The relationship between stress and acne is more established with acne causing stress, but does stress cause acne? Well, have you ever noticed that you break-out when you are stressed-out? You can get acne from stress as an adult, even well after puberty (when acne usually occurs).
There are some studies looking at whether stress causes acne. Yosipovitch and colleagues (2007) studied psychological stress and acne, and found that there was a positive correlation between stress and severity of acne, especially in males. Chiu and colleagues (2003) found that acne worsened during examinations, showing that stress during exams led to more break-outs.
Stress hormones are also implicated in the development of acne. Corticotropin releasing hormone, or CRH, is released from the hypothalamus after activation from the amygdala, which is triggered by stress. Ganceviciene et al. (2009) found that CRH was abundant in skin that had acne, suggesting a hormonal exacerbation of acne.
More studies are needed, but there are preliminary studies that support the notion that stress can cause acne. If you notice that stress is exacerbating your acne or causing it, you can use relaxation and coping techniques to help reduce your stress. However, if your stress has become chronic and you now have anxiety or depression, then you need treatment for a separate and potentially devastating illness that is anxiety and depression. Once you are able to handle your stress or treat your anxiety/depression, then you may notice that your acne either goes away or your acne responds better to acne treatments.