Depression and suicidal ideation in dermatology patients with acne, alopecia areata, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis

Br J Dermatol. 1998 Nov;139(5):846-50. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2133.1998.02511.x.


We examined the prevalence of depression (measured by the Carroll Rating Scale for Depression, CRSD), wishes to be dead and acute suicidal ideation among 480 patients with dermatological disorders that may be cosmetically disfiguring, i.e. non-cystic facial acne (n = 72; 5.6% suicidal ideation), alopecia areata (n = 45; 0% suicidal ideation), atopic dermatitis (n = 146; 2.1% suicidal ideation) and psoriasis (79 outpatients, 2.5% suicidal ideation and 138 inpatients, 7.2% suicidal ideation). Analysis of variance revealed that the severely affected psoriasis inpatients (mean +/- SD total body surface area affected: 52 +/- 23.4%) had the highest (P < 0.05) CRSD score, followed by the patients with mild to moderate acne; both scores were in the range for clinical depression (CRSD score > 10). The 5.6-7.2% prevalence of active suicidal ideation among the psoriasis and acne patients was higher than the 2.4-3.3% prevalence reported among general medical patients. Our findings highlight the importance of recognizing psychiatric comorbidity, especially depression, among dermatology patients and indicate that in some instances even clinically mild to moderate disease such as non-cystic facial acne can be associated with significant depression and suicidal ideation.

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / psychology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alopecia / psychology
  • Attitude to Death
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psoriasis / psychology
  • Skin Diseases / psychology*
  • Suicide / psychology*