Can Antidepressants Cause Skin Issues?

Maintaining your mental health and well-being is a vital aspect of everyday life in a world suffocated by toxic social media trends, societal expectations, and the current political climate. It can be incredibly difficult to balance physical and mental health, especially if you experience mental illness. Thankfully, society has become more accepting of those who seek out the necessary help and resources to get better. As a result, it is safe to say that society has finally made strides in overcoming the stigma surrounding antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication, easing the way for people to receive the additional support they need without shame and uncertainty.


Antidepressants can improve your mental health, although they can cause you to experience certain side effects, just as any other medication. Aside from such common physical side effects as nausea, dizziness, loss of appetite, and headaches, antidepressants have also been linked to various skin issues. Here's what you need to know if you are contending with skin-related side effects while taking antidepressants.

Dry skin

There are certain types of antidepressants, such as tricyclic or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressants, that can leave your skin dry. Some antidepressants lead to a phenomenon referred to as an anticholinergic effect, according to Harvard Health. These medications block the neurotransmitter acetylcholine from binding to the receptor in nerve cells which can, for instance, prevent the production of saliva in the mouth, resulting in dryness. Dry mouth can be uncomfortable, but it can also cause other negative side effects such as bad breath and tooth decay. The other areas typically that are linked to anticholinergic side-effects include the lips, nose, and skin, per the Mayo Clinic.


Dryness can often come and go when taking antidepressants, and it may go away as your body adjusts to a new medication. In many cases, however, the dryness persists which can be uncomfortable or even lead to other health complications. To combat dryness in the mouth, you can get into the habit of frequently sipping cold water or using oral rinses that are specifically designed to treat dry mouth. For dry lips and skin, use hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and lock in the moisture with an occlusive or emollient to prevent moisture loss.

Sensitivity and redness

Antidepressants are also associated with skin sensitivity and broken capillaries. Broken capillaries can increase redness, and it can make your skin prone to hyperpigmentation and flushing (via Qyral). Broken facial capillaries can be concerning, especially if you have rosacea or a weakened skin barrier. If you take SSRIs, then you should avoid other medications which may interact with your antidepressant, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs or aspirin. Taking SSRIs at the same time as these drugs can increase the risk of broken capillaries.


Although rare, some antidepressants can also cause bruising. SSRIs and serotonin noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) may interfere with your body's ability to produce adequate blood clots, and this can cause bruises to form as the blood pools underneath the surface of the skin, per Psych Central. If you already have sensitive skin or if you bruise easily, then you may want to avoid SSRIs and SNRIs to decrease the risk of damage to the skin.


Another common skin-related side effect that people often report is acne. While antidepressants can cause dryness and sensitivity, they may also trigger the opposite effect. In fact, certain antidepressants, such as those containing lithium, can increase sweat production which causes excessive sweating and even night sweats (via Victoria Health). Increased sweating can lead to acne breakouts across the body, particularly on the face and forehead. If you also experience increased skin sensitivity and inflammation, then you might also be more at risk of developing hyperpigmentation following breakouts.


Increased acne and hyperpigmentation do not occur in all individuals who take antidepressant medication. On the flip side, antidepressants can actually improve acne. Stress can be a major trigger for breakouts, so antidepressants can reduce acne by regulating symptoms of stress and anxiety. If you do experience acne, however, it can sometimes be a temporary side effect. In many cases, by continuing with treatment and implementing sustainable self-care habits that include a solid skincare routine, healthy diet, and adequate exercise, your skin may clear up on its own over time.

While it is undeniable that antidepressant medications can cause adverse skin-related side effects, the benefits of taking antidepressants often outweigh the disadvantages. That being said, if you notice severe side effects in your skin after starting antidepressants — and they are taking a serious toll on your physical and mental health — be sure to consult a health professional to discuss other medication options or address ways to treat skin issues.