When I began to get acne at age 10, I started to get anxious and obsessive about my health and body. It flourished into an eating disorder at 14, and then into what it is now. I was recently diagnosed with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and a little bit of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. BDD is a little like OCD. The obsessions with a perceieved flaw is there, which leads to whatever variation of "checking" a person chooses to do. It can be crippling and like OCD, it's treated with therapy and high doses of antidepressants. I can't take antidepressants (as confirmed by my doctor), so I manage it alone.
First off I would like to say I have been self medicating with accutane for about 3 months, I have noticed minor improvements and all the typical side effects
I started on 10mg and am now at 50mg which is more than the recommended dose for my weight, I do not condem or encourage self medication without medical supervision but it would've been impossible or a very lengthy process for me to be put on accutane properly
I have done countless hours of research before and during treatment and as time has gone on I have noticed I have become almost obsessed with reading and further researching the drug, I have got into a habit of picking out and even looking for side effects as well as constantly thinking about the consequences I may experience later on in life
I see that some people have also dedicated their whole life it seems to accutane and its effects, writing articles, post, reports, cases and condsidering accutane has an effect on the brain and people's mental state I wonder if this obsessive thinking/behaviour is infact another side effect ?
I do have a history of mental illness and although I luckily have not experienced any symptoms of depression while on accutane I have definitely noticed changes in my concentration and pattern of thinking, but I feel as if I spend too much time worrying about what it is doing to my body
What does everyone else think? And what are your opinions of accutane and its effects on mental health?
Do you think some of the effects are maybe infact placebo as a result of Internet information and scare stories etc?
Anyway, my point is that I understand what you are going through. I'm on Accutane as well, It sounds like you have anxiety more than anything else. I think that having a condition like acne can really exacerbate that particular disorder. I know this is difficult to do, because I'm STILL learning to do it myself, but try to lessen your worries by researching less. That was a big problem for me too, and at times I'd have to shut off the computer and walk away. You may have to do the same. And if you do it enough, you will find that you worry less. I truly don't think that your obsessive thinking and anxiety is due to Accutane. I've spent hours and hours worrying about side effects for every single medication I've tried. It was a waste of time and an unnecessary stress. If a medication is making you feel unusual or poorly in any way, it's easy enough to stop using it. Accutane is (from what I have seen firsthand) a safe and effective medication. And no one I know has any lasting side effects from taking it.
I can totally relate with you on this as I also spend most of my time planning meals, thinking about what else I can cut out of my diet and stressing about what that little bit of chocolate will do to my skin. I am also trying to overcome my skin picking habit and constant mirror checking. I have probably just channeled these obsessions and stress onto the accutane instead and I guess the first thing I have to do, like many others, is realise its all in my head. Thanks for you're reply and I will now simply try and sit back and let accutane take its course and go with the flow
Body Dysmorphic Disorder is pretty common. And there are a lot of things you can do at home to help alleviate it. Even if you don't have the disorder, you can utilize the same tools that people use who have it. For example, if you check your mirror 20 times a day, try cutting it in half. For myself, I find that trying to focus on the whole picture rather than a single flaw helps. I try standing back and saying "yeah, I have some acne scars I don't like, BUT the whole picture looks fine." For example, when you look at other people, I imagine you see the their whole body rather than say, the tiny mole on their cheek. People with BDD tend to see the flaws as bigger than they actually are. When I look at myself, I sometimes see only that one part of my body I'm stressing about, and I feel like that flaw is the whole me. And that just isn't logical. And I know it.
The obsessions (in my case, are the acne scars) and my compulsions are to check the mirror. And I'll be the first to tell you that those rituals don't help. They make the whole cycle worse. It's important to break the cycle before it spirals out of control. And at least with me, my obsessions change. One day it's acne, then acne scars, then my hair, or whatever. It never stops. So "fixing" the problem doesn't always help. Which is why it's important to cut down on the obsessions and rituals until you aren't compelled to do them anymore. It helped me to do some homework on BDD. Sometimes when I get in a particularly bad mood (and unfortunately, I can't take medications for my disorder), I remind myself that my illness is talking, and that what I see is a skewed perception. And if I have a really difficult time getting away from the mirror, I take a walk outside. My goal right now is to break the rituals, because the more I do them, the more stressed and miserable I am.
I hope things look up for you! Accutane is a wonderful medication for many people. If you ever need someone to talk to, please feel free to get in touch.