Increased use of mental health services related to Isotretinoin treatment: A 5-year analysis

Tal Friedman, Yonit Wohl, Haim Y. Knobler, Gadi Lubin, Sarah Brenner, Yehezkel Levi, Yoram Barak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The association between exposure to Isotretinoin, the development of depression and suicide attempts is controversial. Objective: To retrospectively assess pattern of utilization of mental health services in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) during a 5-year period for all subjects exposed to Isotretinoin in comparison to a control group consisting of army conscripts suffering from psoriasis. All subjects were young adults (18 to 21 years old) in compulsory military service. Method: Exposure to Isotretinoin mandates reporting and marking as a coded medical profile in the IDFs' computerized medical record of each conscript and soldier. Medical data, tracked by military medical profiles, were summarized from medical records of all subjects treated by Isotretinion during the years 1999-2003 and for the control group for the same period. Use of mental health services was the a-priori defined primary outcome measure. Results: During the study period 1419 subjects were exposed to Isotretinoin and 1102 suffered from psoriasis. Utilization of mental health services was highest for the index group wherein 17.2% (245/1419) of subjects were evaluated or treated compared to 12.5% in the control group (psoriasis). The inter-group differences were statistically significant; Chi-square = 15.9 (df = 2), p = 0.0003. Conclusions: We suggest that psychiatric evaluation be regularly undertaken prior to initiation of Isotretinion treatment in young adults at risk, as well as providing follow-up visits during and at completion of treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-416
Number of pages4
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2006


  • Acne
  • Isotretinoin
  • Mental health services
  • Psoriasis


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