Skin Disease and Depression
A large Australian study has confirmed that stress and depression can be etiologic factors in skin disease (Arch Dermatol;145:896-902). Using data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health, researchers tested their hypothesis that psychological factors can precipitate or exacerbate skin disease. Women between the ages of 22 and 27 at baseline in 1996 were surveyed about physical and mental health symptoms then and on three follow-up occasions: 9,688 women in 2000, 9,081 women in 2003, and 8,910 women in 2006. As part of these surveys, women were asked how often they had experienced skin problems in the previous year. The prevalence of skin problems was 24.2 percent, 23.9 percent, and 24.3 percent on the 2000, 2003, and 2006 surveys, respectively.
Overall, 6,630 women answered the question about skin problems on all three surveys, with eight percent reporting skin problems on all three occasions, 12.1 percent reporting problems on two occasions, and 23.9 percent reporting problems only once. In the generalized estimating equation models, a significant association was observed between depression symptoms and stress, but not anxiety, and skin problems. Specifically, patients' odds of having skin problems increased by a factor of 1.427 for every one-unit increase in the mean stress score and by a factor of 1.016 for every one-unit increase in depression score.