FROM JOURNAL OF DRUGS IN DERMATOLOGY
The use of psychotropic medications was similar between patients seeking cosmetic dermatology treatment and those presenting with medical dermatologic conditions in a study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology.
A retrospective chart review of 154 adult female patients presenting for cosmetic dermatology and 156 presenting for medical reasons to a suburban dermatology private practice found that 26.8% of the cosmetic group and 22.2% of the medical group reported taking psychotropic medications (P = .09).
The most common medication type was a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant, reported Dr. Heather K. Hamilton, a dermatologist in Chestnut Hill, Mass., at the time of the study, and her associates. An SSRI was used by 23 patients (56.1%) in the cosmetic group and 25 (71.4%) of the general dermatology patients, followed by benzodiazepines, tricyclic antidepressants, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder medications ( J Drugs Dermatol. 2016; 15 9:858-61 ).
The study also found no significant difference between the two groups in self-reported record of a psychiatric disorder, with four such cases in the medical group and six in the cosmetic group (P = .139).
Cosmetic patients presenting for appearance-related dermatologic therapy are often perceived as being more difficult to satisfy than those with dermatologic problems, the authors noted. “While the reasons for this perception are many, some have hypothesized that this may be related to a higher rate of anxiety, mild depression, or body image issues among this patient population,” they wrote.
The authors referred to the high proportion of patients in both groups taking psychotropic medications in the study, a finding that was “even more striking” since the study excluded patients with conditions known to be associated with psychopathology, such as vitiligo, psoriasis, and neurotic excoriations.
“This finding serves as a reminder that we should take full medical histories as mental health may play a role in compliance and satisfaction with treatment,” the authors stated.
They acknowledged that there were limitations of the study, including using psychotropic medication as a marker for mental health problems and the use of self-reported data.
No conflicts of interest were declared. Dr. Hamilton now practices outside of New York.