Depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation and acne: a study of male Finnish conscripts


*Corresponding author, LMH Rehn, Helsinki City Health Center, Department of Psychiatry, Helsinki, Finland, tel. +358 93 104 9950; fax +358 93 104 9968; E-mail:


Objective  To investigate the association among acne, depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation in Finnish male military conscripts.

Methods  Consecutive 165 acne patients and 150 patients with mild knee symptoms for comparison were enrolled in the study conducted in the Central Military Hospital, Helsinki, Finland. They filled out the following questionnaires: General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test and Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. The Leeds acne grading scale was used to estimate the severity of acne.

Results  Sixteen (9.7%) acne patients and 20 (13.3%) comparison patients had at least moderate level of depressive symptoms (BDI score  10; P > 0.05, between groups). Suicidal ideation (BDI suicidal item score  1) was reported by 24 (14.5%) acne patients and 16 (10.7%) comparison patients (P > 0.05, between groups). When comparing the mild facial acne patients (Leeds score 0–3) with those with moderate-severe facial acne (Leeds score  4), there were no statistical differences in depressive symptoms (9.5% vs. 10.0%) or suicidal ideation (13.7% vs. 15.7%). No linear relationship was observed between the BDI and facial Leeds scores (P > 0.05). Risk factors for suicidal ideation among the acne patients were depression and alcohol risk use.

Conclusion  Young male patients with acne do not suffer more depressive symptoms or suicidal ideation than patients with mild knee symptoms, and the severity of acne is not associated with the presence of depressive symptoms. The risk factors for suicidal ideation among acne patients seem to be similar to those found in the general population.