There is a widely accepted correlation between skin issues and mental health problems, but did you know the chain of causation goes both ways? Not only can having skin issues result in poor mental health, but having poor mental health can result in skin issues too. Think breakouts from stress, oily skin from anxiety and dull skin from depression… So what does your skin say about your mental health?
Mental Health and Skin
Skin is the largest organ and visible across our whole body, it is therefore a good indicator of our overall health. Not only does skin respond to changes in our physical wellbeing, but it also responds to our mental state as well. For those who suffer with noticeable skin issues, it is not uncommon to suffer physiological distress, low self esteem, social withdrawal and embarrassment, not to mention the physical discomfort as well. All of these negative emotions can further inflame existing skin conditions, and even create new ones, thus the vicious cycle begins again. So what does our skin say about our mental health?
Breakouts from stress
Stress is one of the biggest emotional influences over our skin and body. Not only is our skin one of the first places to show signs of stress, but our hair, nails, immune system and general wellbeing are affected too! When you become stressed there is a chemical response triggered within the body that results in increased sensitivity, increased reactiveness and a slower healing process. This can cause redness, inflamed skin and acne that won’t budge. The effects of stress on skin don’t stop there. Stress also causes your body to produce more cortisol, which signals to your glands to produce more oil, thus triggering breakouts. This is where the notion of ‘stress spots’ comes from. The production of collagen is also slowed, which is essentially skin ageing in a nutshell!
While stress is a part of everyday life for most of us, it is important to handle it in a healthy way and to avoid stressful triggers as much as possible, if not for our health, for the sake of our skin!
Oily skin from anxiety
Anxiety is an innate response to danger that humans have evolved over many many years. When we are exposed to danger, or perceived danger our heart rate increases, breathing quickens and our body is flooded with chemicals and hormones. Inevitably, this affects our skin. Similarly with stress, when we become anxious a chemical response is triggered in our body which causes cortisol to be released. This in turn increases oil production and results in… you guess it, oily skin. Not only this, but our blood flow is restricted when feeling anxious, particularly our faces. This can cause our complexion to look pale and dull.
Anxiety is often the result of an irrational fear and can negatively impact day to day life. To help improve quality of life and your skin, consider treatments such as counseling, exercise, meditation and breathing techniques.
Dull skin from depression
Depression is a condition that can take over a person's emotions and physical wellbeing. The effects of depression on our skin can be physical. For example, if you are frowning often, fine lines and wrinkles are more likely to form around the forehead and eye area. The effects of depression on our skin are chemical as well... When suffering from depression our body releases chemicals that drastically affect sleep. This can result in puffiness, under eye bags and a lifeless or dull complexion.
Please note: If you feel you are suffering from depression, anxiety or high levels of stress, talk to your GP!