It's time we start seeing skin in a different light. Needless to say, I'm sure we've looked at our skin from almost every angle; some days we love it, some days we hate it, some days it flares up more than normal, and some days it looks absolutely luminous.
No matter what skincare routine you follow, there's something I want to make crystal clear: the condition of your skin affects your mental well-being.
In the past, skin conditions have ravaged my self-esteem. My battle with rosacea made it difficult to be out in public, look at myself in the mirror, and feel like my highest self. When we perceive ourselves as flawed through skin issues such as acne, aging, rosacea, hyperpigmentation, etc., we need to realize that this outlook manifests itself within our minds - and can decrease our overall health. Remember, being at dis-ease will only bring about disease.
The Link Between Skin Issues and Depression
Depression - known as major depressive disorder -is the term given to a mental condition that causes a "persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest". Depression affects how you feel, think, and behave, and can lead to a variety of emotional issues.
Studies have found a link between acne and depression and for good reason:
"This is explained by the face being a powerful tool for social communication between humans, as it devotes visual attention."
Humans are social creatures. When we interact with others, we are essentially expressing ourselves both physically and emotionally.
I'm no stranger to depression. Around 2009 I was nearly homeless and drinking heavily. I was prescribed antidepressants and Xanax for my anxiety, but we all know alcohol is such a dangerous gamble to play when taking those medications.
Through this period in my life, I struggled. I had maybe fifty dollars in my bank account, was struggling to pay rent, had no help from family, and my mother was going through a divorce at the time and was in and out of rehab. And then to add on top of all of this, I had severe acne.
Looking in the mirror during harsh times, sometimes you just want to look for a level of comfort in your own eyes. But what I saw was flawed, ugly, and almost confirmed that I deserved to be in that situation. My skin was so reflective of the choked up, chaotic quality of my own life. I knew something had to be done.
When skin issues like acne, rosacea, psoriasis, etc. arise, it casts a shadow of insecurity and low self-esteem through these simple interactions. It detracts from the experience and triggers something within us emotionally - the feeling that we are "inferior", "ugly", "undesirable", or worse.
According to MayoClinic, depression takes many forms and results in some harsh symptoms:
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
You might be saying to yourself, "all of this can stem from simple acne? Mere skin issues?"
Of course it can. Because the mind is a powerful force. The mind determines our reality. The thoughts we feed ourselves daily determine the trajectory of our lives.
The Link Between Skin Issues and Suicide
Not only can skin issues contribute to anxiety and depression, but can lead to something much worse.
According to other studies:
"Suicide is not rare among patients with dermatologic conditions. [A] study reported that 7 of 16 cases of completed suicide among dermatology patients were due to acne. The average age of the 7 acne patients who completed suicide was 20.4 years. Dermatologists need to be aware of the mental health of adolescent acne patients."
Though it may be hard to conceptualize these difficult topics, it's so important to understand the mental health implications that skin issues can pose.
It's not just about having clear skin, it's also about accepting others, paying attention to the way you talk to yourself in the mirror, and listening to the way other people might refer to themselves. After all, positivity is a seed that can only blossom goodness. It's time we shine some light onto these topics and maintain awareness for those, including yourself, that may be struggling.
The Link Between Mental Health and Energy
Some experts describe mental energy as a mood state where you feel productive, motivated, and prepared to get things done. A lack of mental energy, then, might mean you don’t feel capable of much at all. Even when you aren’t physically tired, your thoughts might manifest tiredness within you, which leads to lethargy, low motivation, and lack of action. This is also how depression affects energy; it almost entirely depletes it.
Think of it this way: how we view ourselves is directly affecting our energy levels. It's that simple.
Looking in the mirror each morning and saying "I'm so happy with the way I look" compared to looking in the mirror and saying "I hate my acne so much" are two entirely different energy levels.
It seems like common sense, but it's easy to become derailed from such a simple concept. For those struggling with skin issues, it's okay to remind yourself it's not your fault if you feel like the days inch by with more blandness or low-energy. How you're viewing yourself can directly be affecting your mood, your actions, and your results.
Awareness Brings Abundance
Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts. The average person has about 60,000 thoughts that run through the mind per day. That's a lot of lines of dialogues, a lot of mental pictures, and a lot of mental energy.
It's imperative that you do not underestimate the effect skin can have on your thoughts.
If you have less than perfect skin, pay attention to the thoughts you direct towards yourself. Are you noticing that you feel less beautiful? Are you noticing that you'd rather be shut in than out and about? Are you feeling hopeless? Frustrated?
Mental health begins to improve with one, key thing: awareness. Watching our thoughts as they filter through brings us a sense of control and power. After all, as shown in nature, the simple act of observation can directly affect the physical world.
Your mental well-being is your temple. Just as stress can raise cortisol levels, advance aging, and wreak havoc internally, so can insecurities and low-self esteem that stem from our skin issues and conditions.
Remember, you are not alone. If you're feeling some of these emotions, it's important to stay aware. If you feel like you need help, talk to friends or get professional aid.
Mental health is serious and it's high time we start spreading the word on how skin affects mental health. It's not all about vanity, it's not all about trying to look beautiful or "perfect".
It's about maintaining a level of confidence and self-esteem that allow us to manifest our highest energy, feel socially accepted, and encourage us to be active in the world. The way we look runs more than skin-deep. It affects how we think, feel, and behave.
Thank you Amber Babies for tuning into yet another blog post! Feel free to leave comments and questions and don't forget to visit me on IG, @ginamberx, where I go over remarkably effective skincare tips, trends, and topics!