Depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation during isotretinoin treatment: a 12-week follow-up study of male Finnish military conscripts

Authors

  • LMH Rehn,

    Corresponding author
    1. Helsinki City Health Center, Department of Psychiatry, Helsinki, Finland
    2. Finnish Defence Forces, Centre for Military Medicine, Lahti, Finland
    Search for more papers by this author
  • E Meririnne,

    1. Finnish Defence Forces, Centre for Military Medicine, Lahti, Finland
    2. National Institute for Health and Welfare, Department of Alcohol, Drugs and Addiction, Helsinki, Finland
    Search for more papers by this author
  • J Höök-Nikanne,

    1. Lohja Hospital, Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, Department of Dermatology and Allergology, Lohja, Finland
    Search for more papers by this author
  • E Isometsä,

    1. National Institute for Health and Welfare, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Helsinki, Finland
    2. Department of Psychiatry, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland
    Search for more papers by this author
  • M Henriksson

    1. Finnish Defence Forces, Centre for Military Medicine, Lahti, Finland
    2. National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health, Helsinki, Finland
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Conflicts of interest
    None declared.

Correspondence: LMH Rehn. E-mail: laura.rehn@hel.fi

Abstract

Objective  To investigate the putative association between isotretinoin treatment and depressive symptoms or suicidal ideation among Finnish male military conscripts.

Methods  Consecutive acne patients were enrolled into an uncontrolled, prospective 12-week follow-up study conducted at the Central Military Hospital, Helsinki, Finland. Of the 135 patients prescribed isotretinoin, 126 (93.3%) completed the follow-up. Depression and suicidal ideation were investigated with the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) at baseline, weeks 4–6, and weeks 10–12.

Results  BDI mean score was low at baseline and declined further significantly (p < 0.001) during the follow-up from 3.0 (SD 3.948) to 1.8 (SD 3.783) among patients on isotretinoin. Moreover, the proportion of patients with clinically significant depressive symptoms (BDI ≥ 10) declined non-significantly from 7.1 % to 3.2 %. Suicidal ideation was reported by 17 (13.5 %) patients at baseline and 9 (7.1%) patients at the end of the follow-up (NS). During the follow-up, one non-depressed patient attempted suicide while intoxicated by alcohol.

Conclusion  On group level, isotretinoin seems not to be typically associated with treatment-emergent depression or suicidal ideation among young men. However, the possibility that individual patients may be susceptible for mood effects of isotretinoin as a rare idiosyncratic reaction can not be excluded.

Ancillary