Editor’s note: Rosacea is a highly visible condition associated with social stigma due to a lack of public awareness and misinformation surrounding its cause. Over the past few years, multiple studies have suggested a connection between rosacea and psychiatric disorders. Additionally, many researchers have noted that rosacea negatively impacts patients’ quality of life. It’s important to separate recent studies concerning psychiatric illnesses, which suggest only a potential association with rosacea, from research gauging the impact rosacea has on patients’ quality of life. To determine any cause and effect relationship between psychiatric disorders and rosacea, further study is required.
In a recently published study, Lithuanian researchers found higher rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts in rosacea patients compared to those without the skin disorder.1 The researchers screened 120 rosacea patients and a control group of 497 patients without rosacea at a university hospital over the course of two years. They found 36.7% of rosacea patients experienced anxiety, compared to 14.9% of the control group; 30% of rosacea patients experienced depression, compared to 6.8% of the control group; and 5.8% of rosacea patients dealt with suicidal thoughts, compared to 3.2% of the control group.
A recent Brazilian study also found greater rates of depression and anxiety in rosacea patients.2 The study included 194 rosacea patients and 194 age and sex-matched controls without rosacea. Researchers found that 12.9% of rosacea patients suffered from depression compared to 4.1% of the control group, and 10.8% of rosacea patients dealt with anxiety compared to 2.6% of the control group.
In an earlier study, a Taiwanese research team collected retrospective data from 2000 to 2013 from the National Health Insurance Research Database of Taiwan.3
Over the period studied, 3,152 members of the rosacea group and 11,935 members of the control group without rosacea developed psychiatric disorders, and rosacea patients were more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety, depression, phobic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. Overall, the rosacea patients had a slightly higher rate of psychiatric disorders at 40% compared to a 37.9% rate among the control group. The researchers noted that although the difference was small, it was statistically significant and therefore worthy of further study.
These studies add to a growing body of past research that shows correlations between rosacea and depression. While more research is needed in this area, dermatologists and rosacea patients should take note of the potential impact rosacea has on mental health. Though invisible, the psychological burden of rosacea should not be ignored.
1. Lukaviciute L, Ganceviciene R, Navickas P, et al. Anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation amongst patients with facial dermatoses (acne, rosacea, perioral dermatitis, and folliculitis) in Lithuania. Dermatology 2020;236(4):314-322.
2. Incel Uysal P, Akdogan N, Hayran Y, et al. Rosacea associated with increased risk of generalized anxiety disorder: a case-control study of prevalence and risk of anxiety in patients with rosacea. An Bras Dermatol 2019 Nov-Dec; 94(6): 704–709.
3. Hung CT, Chiang CP, Chung CH, et al. Risk of psychiatric disorders in rosacea: A nationwide, population-based, cohort study in Taiwan. J Dermatol 2019 Feb;46(2):110-116