Isotretinoin not a risk factor for depression

A study of more than 38,000 patients has found the treatment for severe acne, isotretinoin (e.g. Roaccutane, Oratane) is not an independent risk factor for depression in adult acne patients.

The proposed link between isotretinoin and mood disorders, such as depression, has attracted much debate over the years.

This large-scale US study assessed medical records for patients aged 18-65 who were diagnosed with acne over a 17 year period (January 2001 – December 2017).  

Of the 36,929 patients who were not taking isotretinoin, 1,775 developed depression (4.81%). In comparison, 41 of the 1,087 patients (3.77%) who were taking isotretinoin developed depression.

According to dermatologist Dr Bethanee Schlosser, Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, no studies to date have established a causal relationship between isotretinoin and depression.

“These results showed no significant difference in frequency of depression between acne patients treated with isotretinoin and those who receive other types of therapy,” she added.

In contrast to this, the link between acne and mood disorders is well known and supported by many studies.

All About Acne strongly encourages anyone who feels acne is affecting their enjoyment of life to discuss this with their GP.

The good news about having acne in 2019 is that there is a range of effective treatments available for this very common skin condition, and for depression.

This research was presented at the 2019 American Academy of Dermatology meeting and is unpublished:

The All About Acne team – the authors of this site – are a group of medically-trained skin experts from across Australia who have an interest in acne management. Our experienced team of leading dermatologists guarantees the information on this website is independent and based on the highest quality research available.

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