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Updated 20 July 2014

Acne and social development

If you suffer from acne, you may find that the psychological effects are far worse than the physical effects.

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If you suffer from acne, you may find that the psychological effects are far worse than the physical effects.

As acne usually affects teens who are in a stage when they explore relationships and become more aware of their physical appearance, acne can be particularly embarrassing and painful.

Sexuality, body image, popularity and identity are extremely important to teens. Friends play a huge role in social growth and change and many find that there is a lot of pressure on them to conform and fit in.

Physical appearance and attractiveness are unfortunately highly linked with peer status. Acne sufferers may lack self confidence to go out and form relationships. As a result, sufferers tend to withdraw from school and social activities and therefore tend to miss out on important opportunities where social skills can be developed. In many cases, this leads to "delayed adolescence" and under-developed social skills.

Acne may cause embarrassment, frustration and anger, and damaged self esteem. Depression and anxiety are common among acne sufferers and in some cases, social anxiety disorder can develop.

If this is the case, it is important to see a psychologist or psychiatrist to treat psychological problems and prevent social difficulties later in life. Treatment may include antidepressant medication and counselling.

Where to go for help
Contact the Depression and Anxiety Support Group at (011) 783 1474 for a list of support groups in your area.
The Mental Health Information Centre will be able to give you information on depression, anxiety and other psychiatric conditions. Contact them at (021) 938 9229.

(Ilse Pauw, Health24)

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