Department of Clinical Psychology, Keresforth Centre, Barnsley S70 6RS, UK., Department of Dermatology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, S10 2JF, UK
The degree and manner to which isotretinoin affects the mental health of acne patients has not been extensively researched, despite reports of possible associations between isotretinoin and depression. In this study, 33 patients with acne were prescribed a standard 16-week treatment regime with isotretinoin. At the initiation of isotretinoin treatment, week 8 review and termination of treatment, patients completed validated measures of depression, hopelessness and self-rated dermatological severity and were also assessed dermatologically using an acne grading protocol. When the first phase of isotretinoin treatment (week 1 to week 8) was compared to the second phase (week 9 to week 16), patients reported significant improvements in the cognitive-affective features of depression during the first phase of treatment, but not during the second phase. Corresponding improvements in the somatic symptoms of depression and hopelessness were not found. The implications of the research are discussed in relation to methodological design issues in this area.