Mental Health Services
As a psychotherapist, I know the importance of the role that anxiety and depression play in the healing of specific skin issues. Your well-being depends greatly upon your mental health and physical health. Mental health is the ability to cope with life stressors without allowing them to prevent you from accomplishing goals and making positive contributions to society. The benefits of good mental health cannot be overstated. Life's challenges can be easier to overcome when mental and emotional well-being are intact.
Signs of mental health problems can be: mood swings, a reduction of energy levels, isolation, feelings of despair, anger, guilt, or indulging in alcohol or drug abuse.
A positive self-image correlates with a healthy mental state. As an esthetician with a master’s degree in social work focusing on cognitive-behavioral and motivational therapy, I see many clients who feel depressed and self-conscious about their skin issues. There is a strong connection between the skin, mind and body. The nervous system is closely connected to the skin, and the skin is acutely sensitive to the emotional state. The skin blushes when we are embarrassed, and it glows when we are happy (Skin Deep, Ted A. Grossbart, PhD and Carl Sherman, PhD). Think of the glow in the face of a mother-to-be. Also, anger and depression can cause changes in the skin. Let’s take acne for example: when a teenager is teased by peers for having acne, the teen’s mood is sadness. The behavior is staying home or isolation from their friends and because of the worry and stress, the acne becomes more aggravated and chronic skin picking becomes an issue that promotes a vicious cycle, impacting the person’s life.
Biologically, the severity of acne can be greatly influence by stress. An acne breakout can follow a stressful event, such as cramming for finals, problems at work, family, or financial crisis. Under stress, the body suffers at its’ weakest link. That link may be a site that has been previously injured, or an organ that is genetically vulnerable (Acne Rx, James E. Fulton Jr. MD..PhD). For instance, a person with high blood pressure under stress is more vulnerable to a heath attack or stroke. The same can go for someone with a skin disease such as psoriasis or acne. In the case of acne, the stress hormone, cortisol is the main hormone that affects physical and emotional functioning.
Stress activates the adrenal glands to produce extra cortisol that causes flare-ups in acne prone skin. In essence, stress in not a friend of acne.
Acne is not the only skin issue that mental health impacts. Other concerns can be eczema, psoriasis, scars, burns, cancer, aging, etc. It is important that a person seek counseling if they unable to cope. A therapist can assist the person to talk though their worry and explore options, while helping to build self-esteem and feel more empowered.