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A Warning About Antidepressants

antidepressants cysts nodules severe acne sertraline zoloft mirtazapine

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#1 MoonlitRiver

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 06:07 AM

Hello everyone. :)

 

It's a long time since I posted on here because I've been struggling so much with my mental health recently and am only just regaining any short periods of clarity and stability. But I felt that I had to post about my experiences with my skin and antidepressants in case it stops any of you going through the same horrific experience I did.

 

Last Easter I finally admitted that I needed help with my depression and started taking antidepressants for the first time in order to make it through my dissertation and finals at uni. The antidepressant I tried first was Sertraline (Zoloft) and it worked quite well on my mood for a couple of months but this improvement was eventually negated by the fact that a month or so in I started to develop severe nodular-cystic acne. I've had acne of the mild/moderate variety since I was 13, but before taking Sertraline I had never experienced anything like this. We're talking so many deep cysts and nodules that my face looked visibly misshapen and the throbbing pain was so severe that it used to keep me awake at night. I didn't leave my house for three months solid because I looked and felt like such a monster.

 

Needless to say, this event caused my depression to take a turn for the worse again. My GP, not believing me when I said I thought the cystic breakout had been linked to the Sertraline, continued to increase my dose for the next few months. I was on antibiotics and seeing a dermatologist but they wouldn't allow me to take isotretinoin (Accutane) because of the depression and the fact some studies have indicated an increased risk of suicide whilst taking the drug. Personally I think the evidence for that is negligible but perhaps I'll save that for another post.

 

Anyway, my depression continued to get worse and worse, not helped by the fact that my skin was still breaking out in cysts and I was being denied what I thought was the only treatment that would prevent that from happening. I reached the point of being suicidal and stayed that way for months. I couldn't get any help for my mental health because of waiting lists and the dermatologist wouldn't prescribe isotretinoin unless I was under the care of a mental health professional. I was stuck, and increasingly feeling like there was no way out of my situation other than completing suicide.

 

Eventually, my GP admitted that the Sertraline wasn't going to work for me. I was becoming increasingly suicidal with every dose increase (and my skin was getting worse) so she switched me to Venlafaxine (Effexor) over the Christmas holidays.

 

Now, the change wasn't instant, but I could see my skin gradually improving. After a few weeks I got to the point where I no longer broke out in cysts anywhere on my face or body. Sure, I'd get the occasional spot, but never the deep painful stuff and my skin became flat and easy to cover with make-up. I told my GP about the improvements in my skin since changing antidepressant and she looked mildly interested but was clearly still not convinced that my cystic acne had been caused by the Sertraline.

 

Anyway, my mental health continued to deteriorate for the next two months. Several suicide attempts, being kept in a police cell overnight because in the UK the mental health services are so understaffed that they think it's fine to keep people with severe mental health problems locked up like petty criminals to prevent them killing themselves. We kept increasing the dose of Venlafaxine and added in Quetiapine which helped a bit. Neither of these showed any effect on my skin but as my mood was still not adequately improving my GP decided to add Mirtazapine on top.

 

BIG MISTAKE. Suddenly my skin that had been almost clear and completely cyst free for the past two months started breaking out in cysts again! Needless to say I took myself off it pronto and went back to my GP. Finally she believed me that certain antidepressants were clearly having an effect on my skin. I've been off the Mirtazapine a week now and my skin has completely calmed down again. I have nothing active, just the usual hyperpigmentation that is slowly fading over time and I can't feel anything else coming up under the surface like I could when I was on the Mirtazapine. I still have a massive way to go on the mental health front, but on the skin front things are really looking up and I would essentially say I've got clear. Odd spot here and there, but nothing I can't deal with and can't be covered with a bit of make-up.

 

So basically I wanted to write this really long post to warn others about the potential for certain antidepressants to have the side effect of very severe nodular-cystic acne. This was not listed as a side-effect in any of the leaflets, but as it happened to me with two different antidepressants both my GP and my dermatologist now agree that it can't possibly be a coincidence and that it must have been caused by the drugs. I just wanted to make people aware of my experiences so that if you do find your acne being made considerably worse after starting a new antidepressant you don't allow your doctor to just brush your concerns aside and say that because they haven't heard of it before it can't be the drug causing it. It can, and for me it was, and now that I'm back on just the Venlafaxine and the Quetiapine my skin is back to being completely clear again. So please, don't suffer like I did, speak out and make yourself heard if you suspect your antidepressants are worsening your acne. It could save you an enormous amount of trauma in terms of both your skin and your mental health and that's really not worth it when the problem can so easily be solved by switching to another drug.


Edited by MoonlitRiver, 13 March 2014 - 03:14 AM.

My Current Treatment Plan

 

Morning: Lymecycline
 

Evening: Dianette + Epiduo

Diet: eliminated dairy

 

My Log: http://www.acne.org/messageboard/topic/331567-diary-of-a-three-pronged-attack-my-mission-to-get-clear-skin-and-avoid-roaccutane/#entry3369787 

 

Acne status: essentially clear and just waiting for hyperpigmentation to fade

 

"I would rather learn what it feels like to burn than feel nothing at all." ~ Ron Pope
 


#2 aSADpenguin

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 07:47 AM

I can relate -

 

I was diagnosed with OCD and minor depression about 4 years ago and was prescribed Prozac. The drug broke me out tremendously as well as a slight weight gain.

Not one of my fondest memories...



#3 bubbles55

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 02:02 PM

Absolutely impossible. Psych meds can RARELY cause acneiform eruptions that look like papules, not nodular cystic acne. NO medication is capable of worsening acne except for certain steroids. What you experienced is just a coincidence.

 

I wouldn't try to dissaude people from taking their psychaitric medication either as these meds are the only thing people with serious mental health disorders together.



#4 MoonlitRiver

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 02:57 PM

Absolutely impossible. Psych meds can RARELY cause acneiform eruptions that look like papules, not nodular cystic acne. NO medication is capable of worsening acne except for certain steroids. What you experienced is just a coincidence.

 

I wouldn't try to dissaude people from taking their psychaitric medication either as these meds are the only thing people with serious mental health disorders together.

 

Well both my GP and my dermatologist agreed that the Sertraline and Mirtazapine must have been the cause so seeing as my experience correlates I'm inclined to trust the opinion of the professionals. This post was in no way intended to dissuade people from taking psychiatric medication. I myself have severe mental health problems and am dependent on my antidepressant and antipsychotic. All I'm saying is that if, like me, you find certain ones worsen your acne then it's worth asking your doctor if they can try you on something different. There are hundreds of different psychiatric drugs out there with different side-effects and it's worth finding the one that is right for you physically as well as mentally.


My Current Treatment Plan

 

Morning: Lymecycline
 

Evening: Dianette + Epiduo

Diet: eliminated dairy

 

My Log: http://www.acne.org/messageboard/topic/331567-diary-of-a-three-pronged-attack-my-mission-to-get-clear-skin-and-avoid-roaccutane/#entry3369787 

 

Acne status: essentially clear and just waiting for hyperpigmentation to fade

 

"I would rather learn what it feels like to burn than feel nothing at all." ~ Ron Pope
 


#5 bubbles55

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 11:49 PM

Absolutely impossible. Psych meds can RARELY cause acneiform eruptions that look like papules, not nodular cystic acne. NO medication is capable of worsening acne except for certain steroids. What you experienced is just a coincidence.

 

I wouldn't try to dissaude people from taking their psychaitric medication either as these meds are the only thing people with serious mental health disorders together.

 

Well both my GP and my dermatologist agreed that the Sertraline and Mirtazapine must have been the cause so seeing as my experience correlates I'm inclined to trust the opinion of the professionals. This post was in no way intended to dissuade people from taking psychiatric medication. I myself have severe mental health problems and am dependent on my antidepressant and antipsychotic. All I'm saying is that if, like me, you find certain ones worsen your acne then it's worth asking your doctor if they can try you on something different. There are hundreds of different psychiatric drugs out there with different side-effects and it's worth finding the one that is right for you physically as well as mentally.

 

That's still really atypical and could have been a coincidence though. But who knows?



#6 paigems

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 10:14 AM

Nothing is impossible. I wouldn't be surprised if some anti depressants affected the skin since they affect the gut.



#7 bubbles55

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 11:55 AM

Nothing is impossible. I wouldn't be surprised if some anti depressants affected the skin since they affect the gut.

 

The leaky gut hypothesis has been disproven by just about every physician on the planet. Also acne is not related to the "gut" in any shape or form. It's a disorder of the pore and that's it.



#8 paigems

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 08:51 PM

Nothing is impossible. I wouldn't be surprised if some anti depressants affected the skin since they affect the gut.

 

The leaky gut hypothesis has been disproven by just about every physician on the planet. Also acne is not related to the "gut" in any shape or form. It's a disorder of the pore and that's it.

 

I wasn't talking about leaky gut. Acne can be related to the gut which is why some people's skin improves from things like digestive enzymes, fiber, and probiotics. There are also many diseases and medications which are known to cause acne which provides evidence against you belief that acne is just a "disorder of the pore."



#9 bubbles55

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 09:38 PM

 

Nothing is impossible. I wouldn't be surprised if some anti depressants affected the skin since they affect the gut.

 

The leaky gut hypothesis has been disproven by just about every physician on the planet. Also acne is not related to the "gut" in any shape or form. It's a disorder of the pore and that's it.

 

I wasn't talking about leaky gut. Acne can be related to the gut which is why some people's skin improves from things like digestive enzymes, fiber, and probiotics. There are also many diseases and medications which are known to cause acne which provides evidence against you belief that acne is just a "disorder of the pore."

 

No. Every cause of acne is the same: too much sebum and pores that clog too easily. It doesn't get anymore exciting as that.

 

and Intestinal dysbosis doesn't even exist. I have studied medicine.



#10 Binga

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 11:47 PM

Look for a derm that will give you accutane. Getting clear is a better anti depressant. 



#11 MoonlitRiver

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 03:07 AM

Look for a derm that will give you accutane. Getting clear is a better anti depressant. 

 

I'm clear now so have no need to find a derm to give me Accutane. :) Unfortunately I have very severe depression that requires antidepressant treatment as well but now I've found one that doesn't break me out that's not a problem.


My Current Treatment Plan

 

Morning: Lymecycline
 

Evening: Dianette + Epiduo

Diet: eliminated dairy

 

My Log: http://www.acne.org/messageboard/topic/331567-diary-of-a-three-pronged-attack-my-mission-to-get-clear-skin-and-avoid-roaccutane/#entry3369787 

 

Acne status: essentially clear and just waiting for hyperpigmentation to fade

 

"I would rather learn what it feels like to burn than feel nothing at all." ~ Ron Pope
 


#12 paigems

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 05:37 PM

 

 

Nothing is impossible. I wouldn't be surprised if some anti depressants affected the skin since they affect the gut.

 

The leaky gut hypothesis has been disproven by just about every physician on the planet. Also acne is not related to the "gut" in any shape or form. It's a disorder of the pore and that's it.

 

I wasn't talking about leaky gut. Acne can be related to the gut which is why some people's skin improves from things like digestive enzymes, fiber, and probiotics. There are also many diseases and medications which are known to cause acne which provides evidence against you belief that acne is just a "disorder of the pore."

 

No. Every cause of acne is the same: too much sebum and pores that clog too easily. It doesn't get anymore exciting as that.

 

and Intestinal dysbosis doesn't even exist. I have studied medicine.

 

No what?

 

Intestinal DISBIOSIS does exist. I just wrote a paper for my physiology class on gut flora, and there are tons of professional journal articles out there about intestinal dysbiosis. Even my doctors who have also "studied medicine" acknowledge its existence.


Edited by paigems, 15 March 2014 - 10:39 PM.


#13 TripleN

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 12:09 AM

When I started on Cipralex, I broke out quite badly. I still swear up and down that it was my body getting used to the medication because the breakouts stopped after the effects started to take place which took about 6 weeks. 



#14 ZhenZhu

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Posted 23 July 2014 - 02:40 AM

Similar experience on Wellbutrin.  DEEP acne. I had few scars before, but now, still draining, still recovering. It's interesting that acne isn't listed as a side effect in the clinical studies and psychiatrists hate "anomalies" that their drug bible doesn't affirm, but the reviews everywhere

 

My psychiatrist pretty much ditched me because I came in with emotional issues surrounding acne, and became worse off for the worse reasons.  

 

I feel your pain, I feel one wrong word and I'll be hospitalized again, forced drugs, unable to tend to my skin...


  • Clear Skin and Anxiety Maintenance Routine:
  • Supplements: Shi wei Bei Du Tang (powder by Sun Ten) and the Zhen Zhu An Chuang Pan (tablets by Guang Ci Tang)  both for acne+ other Chinese mood stabilizers. 
  •  20,000IU+ of Vitamin D/day (+ antioxidants and multi with minerals)
  • Diet: Ultra Meal and Orac Energy Greens shakes- no meat, coffee,  dairy, gluten or alcohol
  • Topical: crysanthemum and MSM baths and cleansing with Proactiv Deep and Kavi Coral on Konjac sponge to exfoliate, and Jason Aloe and Tea Tree and Hyaluronic Acid to heal and hydrate. 
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#15 gkitten25

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Posted 23 July 2014 - 08:47 AM

I'm sorry to hear that. I have been on Setraline for about six months and it has made such a difference to my life, I feel normal again.  I'm only on 10mg and I also take birth control and have used differin now for a year to control my acne.  I haven't found sertraline to have made my acne worse, although my acne was gone by time I took setraline, I still had some hyperpigmentation and shallow scarring and I actually found once I started to feel better mentally my hyperpigmentation and redness started to clear up a lot quicker and I felt much less stressed, my skin has just got better each month and I can live my life again.  I think it is about finding what is right for you, trial and error. x


Current Routine

 

AM: 

Cleanse: Boots No 7 Cream Cleanser for Normal/Dry Skin ( removing with some warm water and a tissue) or Priori Gentle AHA Cleanser (every few days)

Moisturise: Aveene light moisturising lotion (oil free) spf 20

Topicals:  Vitage protect and perfect serum, after I moisturise now that it's coming into fall and winter

 

PM

Cleanse: Boots No 7 Cream Cleanser for Normal/Dry Skin (remove with some warm water and a tissue or a damp warm wash cloth for days when I'm wearing a lot of make up) or Priori AHA Gentle Cleanser. Sometimes I will double cleanse with my cream cleanse then aha milk cleanser maybe twice a week

Moisturise: E45 cream or liz earl gentle moisturiser

Topicals: Differn 0.1% before or after moisturiser

 

Bliss aha mask once a week/every two weeks

 

Oral medication: Dianette BCP now Cilest

Supplements: Altrient B multi B vitamin lipo soluble gel formula, mix one a day with water

 

Current make up: Charlotte Tilbury light wonder foundation in fair 3, NARS creamy concealer, Dollish CC cream for days when I don't want to wear foundation and Jane Iredale mineral powder to finish.  For some colour I use tea to tan By Terry, it's water base tint to give me some colour and various cream and powder blushes (love my blushes) currently loving Charlotte Tilbury beach sticks, lovely cream blush and bronze highlighters.

Tools: Sigma F80 Kabuki for foundation or Real Techniques beauty blender and pretty much every other real techniques for the rest of my make up

 





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