Accutane and Depression, What’s the Link?

A type of drug called Accutane is used to treat severe or persistent acne. While using Accutane, however, some people may experience mood swings. One of this medication’s major negative effects for some people is depression. For more information on the connection between Accutane and depression, continue reading.

Accutane, a medication aimed at treating severe or persistent acne, has been associated with mood changes in some individuals. Depression is one significant side effect reported by some users while on Accutane.

Despite numerous hypotheses, medical experts have yet to comprehend the connection between Accutane usage and depression fully. Therefore, conducting further research to unravel this association could prove beneficial in cases where individuals experience depression while on this medication; discontinuation may be necessary.

For deeper insights into the correlation between Accutane and depression, continue reading.

Accutane is an oral medication specifically designed to tackle severe acne, although its precise mechanism of action remains poorly comprehended.

Notably, Accutane is associated with severe adverse effects in specific individuals. Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals, for instance, are advised against using Accutane due to the heightened risk of birth defects. These defects can encompass severe abnormalities in the skull, eyes, ears, mouth, brain, heart, and facial features.

Moreover, Accutane usage can lead to neurological side effects, ranging from mild symptoms like headaches, dizziness, and nervousness to more severe outcomes such as fainting, seizures, and strokes.

Some experts have postulated that the neurological side effects of Accutane might contribute to sporadic reports of depression among its users. Additionally, Accutane can breach the blood-brain barrier, which usually separates the brain from the rest of the body. Studies indicate it could impede nerve function associated with mood-related hormones like serotonin and dopamine.

Initially, scientists inferred that this inhibitory action might cause depression in a small subset of users reporting this side effect. However, current research challenges this perspective, suggesting a more complex relationship.

Does Accutane Cause Depression?

Research findings regarding the connection between Accutane and depression present conflicting perspectives.

For some individuals, depression might surface as a side effect during Accutane use, while others may encounter mood disorders shortly after discontinuing the medication.

Identifiable signs and symptoms of depression encompass:

  • Persistent sad mood,
  • Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, or worthlessness,
  • Diminished interest or pleasure in activities,
  • Decreased energy levels,
  • Difficulty concentrating,
  • Alterations in sleep patterns, and
  • Changes in weight or appetite.

Although uncommon, suicidal thoughts and behaviors can occasionally occur alongside depression linked to Accutane use.

Before commencing Accutane therapy, individuals are required to sign a consent form acknowledging the associated risks. This form signifies their understanding of the potential for significant mood changes and their commitment to report any depressive symptoms to their doctor promptly.

Furthermore, doctors must co-sign this consent form, affirming that they have thoroughly explained the risks associated with this medication.

While Accutane has been associated with the onset of depression, acne itself can contribute to psychological disturbances like self-esteem issues, depression, and anxiety. Paradoxically, while Accutane aims to treat acne, it may also potentially alleviate depressive symptoms, although the drug itself may induce depression in some cases.

Accutane may impact the nervous system, leading to specific symptoms, including the following:

  1. Inhibiting cell division in the hippocampus: This can potentially hinder the proper functioning of cells within this brain region.
  2. Reducing brain metabolism in the orbitofrontal cortex could result in insufficient essential nutrients reaching this brain area, impacting emotional processing as the orbitofrontal cortex is involved in emotional regulation.
  3. Altering serotonin levels and receptor activity in the brain: Serotonin is critical in various bodily functions and can influence an individual’s mood.

However, these hypotheses necessitate further exploration and investigation to thoroughly comprehend the connection between Accutane usage and the development of depression.

An alternative theory proposes that the likelihood of depression while taking Accutane might be associated with a person’s prior history of depression or other non-medication-related factors.

What is Depression?

Depression (also known as Major Depressive Illness or Clinical Depression) is a common but significant mood disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It produces severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to function daily, including sleeping, eating, and working. The signs of depression must last for at least two weeks before a diagnosis may be made.

Depression treatment is required when depressive symptoms are chronic and do not go away since some types of depression are slightly different or may arise in unusual situations.

Types of Depression

  • Persistent depressive disorder (also called dysthymia) is a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major Depression along with periods of less severe symptoms. Still, symptoms must last for two years to be considered a persistent depressive disorder.
  • Psychotic Depression: occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false fixed beliefs (delusions) or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations). The psychotic symptoms typically have a depressive “theme,” such as delusions of guilt, poverty, or illness.
  • Bipolar Disorder is different from Depression, but it is included in this list because someone with bipolar disorder experiences episodes of extremely low moods that meet the criteria for major Depression (called “Bipolar Depression”). But a person with bipolar disorder also experiences extreme high – euphoric or irritable – moods called “mania” or a less severe form called “hypomania.”
  • Postpartum Depression is much more serious than the “baby blues” (relatively mild depressive and anxiety symptoms that typically clear within two weeks after delivery) that many women experience after giving birth. Women with postpartum Depression experience full-blown major Depression during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum depression). The feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that accompany postpartum depression may make it difficult for these new mothers to complete daily care activities for themselves and their babies.
  • Seasonal affective disorder is characterized by the onset of Depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. This Depression generally lifts during spring and summer. Winter Depression, typically accompanied by social withdrawal, increased sleep, and weight gain, predictably returns every year in seasonal affective disorder.
  • SAD Seasonal Depression: A form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is triggered by the changing of the seasons; it starts and ends about at the same periods each year. If you have SAD, as the majority of people do, your symptoms begin in the fall and last through the winter, draining your energy and making you cranky. Typically, these symptoms go away in the spring and summer. SAD less frequently results in depression in the spring or early summer and clears up in the fall or winter. SAD treatment options include medications, psychotherapy, and light therapy (phototherapy).

Get Help. Get Better. Get Your Life Back.

Searching for Accredited Dual Diagnosis Mental Health Centers Near You?

Even if therapy failed previously, or are in the middle of a difficult crisis, we stand ready to support you. Our trusted behavioral health specialists will not give up on you. When you feel ready or just want someone to speak to about counseling alternatives to change your life call us. Even if we cannot assist you, we will lead you to wherever you can get support. There is no obligation. Call our hotline today.

FREE 24/7 Dual Diagnosis Mental Health Services Hotline
It might be necessary to discontinue using Accutane if you suffer from depression.
It might be necessary to discontinue using Accutane if you suffer from depression.

What do Studies say About Accutane Depression?

Historically, studies have indicated that between 1% and 11% of individuals taking Accutane may encounter symptoms of depression, such as chronic sadness, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and diminished interest in previously enjoyable activities. Despite statistical indications of a connection, an increasing number of experts challenge the notion that Accutane directly leads to depression. No discernible pattern exists regarding who might be affected, nor is there conclusive evidence that Accutane significantly hampers the effects of serotonin or dopamine.

A 2019 study conducted at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine aimed to assess the risk by scrutinizing the medical records of 38,000 individuals with acne across the United States. Among the 1,087 individuals treated with Accutane, only 3.77% experienced depression. This rate was notably lower than those with acne who did not undergo Accutane treatment (4.81%).

Similar conclusions were drawn from a 2019 review of studies from China, where three out of 20 studies implied a connection between Accutane and depression. In contrast, 17 of the 20 studies suggested that Accutane alleviated symptoms of depression.

How to Use Accutane Safely

Although isotretinoin presents potential side effects, the medication can effectively address severe nodular or cystic acne. Managing this condition not only diminishes the likelihood of scarring but also can enhance one’s self-perception and mood.

While the risk of experiencing depression appears to be minimal, it’s crucial to reach out to your healthcare provider if you or your child develop the following while using isotretinoin:

Changes in mood and behavior Feeling unusually sad, angry, irritable, or aggressive Difficulty concentrating Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm Experiencing hallucinations or delusions Even if these symptoms are not linked directly to isotretinoin, they are significant and warrant immediate attention from a licensed medical professional.

Ryan Zofay forming a circle and hugging friends.

End the Emotional Pain. Get Your Life Back.

Feeling Depressed, Anxious or Struggling with Mental Health Illness? Get Safe Comfortable Mental Health Dual Diagnosis High-Quality Therapy From Counselors That Care. Begin Your Recovery Now.

Hotline (855) 940-6125

Prescribing Accutane For Depression

The impact of Accutane on worsening depression in individuals already diagnosed with the condition remains uncertain. Some researchers indicate that Accutane might not necessarily be the direct cause of depression.

Typically, prescribing Accutane occurs when the severity of acne is profound. Acne’s emotional toll, affecting one’s self-perception and self-worth, can independently contribute to feelings of depression. Moreover, if Accutane doesn’t yield the expected results, it can potentially intensify pre-existing depression in individuals.

Research also highlights that many individuals who reported experiencing depression post-Accutane treatment had pre-existing factors that increased their susceptibility, including substance abuse, bipolar disorder, or a family history of depression.

As a precautionary measure, the FDA recommends consumers be mindful of the potential for depression. Individuals with depression should engage in discussions with their healthcare providers to thoroughly comprehend the potential benefits and risks of treatment, empowering them to make informed decisions.

Is There a Cure For Depression?

Depression, as a complex mental health condition, does not have a straightforward “cure” in the conventional sense. Instead, the focus is on managing symptoms, improving quality of life, and achieving remission or significantly reducing the impact of depressive symptoms.

Here’s an extensive exploration of depression and its management:

Understanding Depression

Depression is a multifaceted disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, changes in sleep or appetite, fatigue, low self-esteem, and difficulty concentrating. It can range from mild to severe and may be influenced by genetic, environmental, biological, and psychological factors.

Treatment Approaches

  1. Psychotherapy/Counseling: Therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), or Psychodynamic Therapy, helps individuals address negative thought patterns, manage emotions, and develop coping strategies.
  2. Medications: Antidepressants, such as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) or SNRIs (Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors), can help alleviate symptoms. Finding the right medication and dosage may take time.
  3. Lifestyle Changes: Regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and stress reduction techniques can significantly impact mood and overall well-being.
  4. Alternative Therapies: Mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and acupuncture have shown promise in reducing depressive symptoms for some individuals.
  5. Support Groups and Peer Support: Connecting with others experiencing similar challenges can provide valuable support and a sense of community.

Challenges and Considerations

  • Personalized Treatment: Depression varies widely among individuals, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. What works for one person may not work for another.
  • Treatment Duration: Managing depression often involves long-term strategies and ongoing support. Relapse can occur even after successful treatment, requiring continued management.
  • Stigma and Barriers to Care: Stigma surrounding mental health issues and access to quality mental health services can hinder seeking and maintaining treatment.

First-class Facilities & Amenities

World-class High-Quality Mental Health Services & Behavioral Health Substance Abuse Treatment

Rehab Centers Tour

Renowned Mental Health Centers. Serene Private Facilities. Inpatient Rehab Programs Vary.

Mental Health Helpline (855) 940-6125

Proven recovery success experience, backed by a Team w/ History of:


Years of Unified Experience


5-Star Reviews Across Our Centers


Recovery Successes

  • Comprehensive Dual-Diagnosis Treatment
  • Complimentary Family & Alumni Programs
  • Coaching, Recovery & Development Events
  • Comfortable Onsite Medical Detox Center

Accutane Side Effects Of Dosage

Accutane’s prescribed dosage typically spans from 0.5 milligrams (mg) to 1 per kilogram daily. Throughout Accutane treatment, medical professionals might adjust the dosage based on the individual’s body weight and any observed side effects.

This adjustment is due to the possibility that specific side effects could be dosage-related rather than solely attributed to the medication.

An earlier study from 2012 suggested that a higher dose of Accutane does not increase the likelihood of depression. Nevertheless, some side effects, such as lip inflammation and elevated blood fat levels, may exacerbate with escalating doses.

Additional Adverse Effects of Accutane

A necessary caution associated with Accutane usage is the potential risk of congenital malformations in a developing fetus. These abnormalities include facial, ocular, cranial, and auditory system irregularities, cardiac and vascular anomalies, thymus and parathyroid gland irregularities, and reduced IQ scores. If pregnant individuals take Accutane, there might also be instances of spontaneous abortion or premature births.

Furthermore, individuals using Accutane may encounter severe lip inflammation, known as cheilitis, along with elevated levels of triglycerides in their bloodstream.

When to Go to a Doctor

Before prescribing Accutane, physicians will compile a comprehensive medical record, which includes an individual’s prior history of depression, mood disorders, psychosis, and instances of aggression.

Throughout subsequent appointments, doctors will actively monitor for any indications of alterations in mood. Should an individual suspect they are undergoing depressive symptoms, their physician might advise discontinuing the use of Accutane.

Individuals encountering feelings of depression while on the medication should communicate with their physician.

On certain occasions, a relative or caregiver might bring changes in an individual’s mood to their doctor’s attention. Physicians will guide to ensure individuals receive appropriate assistance. Nevertheless, discontinuing Accutane might not necessarily alleviate mood changes such as depression.

Although these are uncommon signs of depression with Accutane, suicidal thoughts and actions might nevertheless occur.
Although these are uncommon signs of depression with Accutane, suicidal thoughts and actions might nevertheless occur.

World-class, Accredited, 5-Star Reviewed, Effective Mental Health Dual Diagnosis Programs. Complete Integrated Inpatient Rehab with Free Post Discharge Therapy Planning.

CALL (855) 940-6125

End the Emotional Pain Rollercoaster. Gain Stability & Happiness Through Recovery Treatment. Start Mental Health Counseling Today. Get Free No-obligation Guidance by Behaviroal Health Specialists Who Understand Mental Health Recovery.

We Level Up Depression Treatment

At We Level Up MentalHealth Treatment Center, we offer a comprehensive range of services tailored to address depression and support individuals on their journey towards mental wellness. Our approach encompasses various therapeutic modalities and personalized care to meet the diverse needs of each individual seeking assistance.

  1. Individualized Therapy Sessions: Our center provides one-on-one therapy sessions facilitated by experienced mental health professionals. These sessions aim to explore and address the root causes of depression, equip individuals with coping strategies, and foster personal growth and healing.
  2. Group Therapy and Support: We believe in the power of community and offer group therapy sessions where individuals can connect, share experiences, and find solidarity among peers facing similar challenges. These supportive environments foster empathy, understanding, and shared coping mechanisms.
  3. Evidence-Based Treatments: Our center emphasizes evidence-based treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). These therapeutic approaches have shown efficacy in managing and alleviating symptoms of depression.
  4. Holistic Wellness Programs: We incorporate holistic approaches to mental health, including yoga, meditation, art therapy, and mindfulness practices. These activities aim to promote relaxation, stress reduction, and emotional regulation, contributing to overall well-being.
  5. Psychiatric Services: We offer psychiatric evaluations and medication management for individuals who might benefit from pharmacological interventions as part of their depression treatment plan. Our team of psychiatrists collaborates closely with therapists to ensure comprehensive care.
  6. Aftercare and Continued Support: Our commitment extends beyond treatment completion. We provide aftercare programs and ongoing support to help individuals transition back into their daily lives equipped with tools to sustain mental wellness.

Experience Transformative Recovery at the We Level Up Treatment Center.

See our authentic success stories. Get inspired. Get the help you deserve.

We Level Up Treatment Centers for Drug Alcohol Rehab Detox Behavioral Mental Health Dual Diagnosis Therapy We Level Up Treatment Centers for Drug Alcohol Rehab Detox Behavioral Mental Health Dual Diagnosis Therapy We Level Up Treatment Centers for Drug Alcohol Rehab Detox Behavioral Mental Health Dual Diagnosis Therapy
Hotline (855) 940-6125
Voluntarily testimonials from the We Level Up Treatment Center network vary. Not intended as a guaranteed treatment or outcome as each person's journey is unique.

Start a New Life

Begin with a free call to a behavioral health treatment advisor. Learn more about our dual-diagnosis programs. The We Level Up treatment center network delivers recovery programs that vary by each treatment facility. Call to learn more.

  • Personalized Care
  • Caring Accountable Staff
  • World-class Amenities
  • Licensed & Accredited
  • Renowned w/ 5-Star Reviews

We’ll Call You

Clinical Depression Symptoms and Signs

Search We Level Up FL Accutane and Depression, What’s the Link? Resources
  1. National Institute of Mental Health – ‘Depression’ ( Accutane and Depression, side effects of accutane depression-related articles.
  2. Roche Laboratories. Accutane (isotretinoin) capsules. Accutane and Depression, Accutane side effects depression-related articles.
  3. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Study indicates isotretinoin is not an independent risk factor for depression. Accutane and Depression-related articles
  4. Ludot M, Mouchabac S, Ferreri F. Inter-relationships between isotretinoin treatment and psychiatric disorders: depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, psychosis, and suicide risksWorld J Psychiatry. 2015;5(2):222-7. doi:10.5498/wjp.v5.i2.222 Accutane and Depression-related articles
  5. Borovaya A, Olisova O, Ruzicka T, Sárdy M. Does isotretinoin therapy of acne cure or cause depression?Int J Dermatol. 2013;52(9):1040-52. doi:10.1111/ijd.12169 Accutane and Depression-related articles
  6. Li C, Chen J, Wang W, Ai M, Zhang Q, Kuang L. Use of isotretinoin and risk of depression in patients with acne: a systematic review and meta-analysisBMJ Open. 2019 Jan 21;9(1):e021549. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-021549 Accutane and Depression, Accutane side effects depression-related articles
  7. ACCUTANE® (isotretinoin capsules). (n.d.). Accutane and Depression, side effects of Accutane depression, side effects of Accutane depression-related articles
  8. Label: Accutane – isotretinoin capsule, gelatin coated [Fact sheet]. (2022). Accutane and Depression, side effects of Accutane depression-related articles
  9. Li, C., et al. (2019). Use of isotretinoin and risk of depression in patients with acne: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Accutane and Depression-related articles
  10. Rademaker, M. (2012). Isotretinoin: dose, duration, and relapse. What do 30 years of usage tell us?. Accutane and Depression, side effects of accutane depression-related articles
  11. Tan, A. U., et al. (2017). A review of diagnosis and treatment of acne in adult female patients. Accutane and Depression, side effects of Accutane depression-related articles