Many women these days use tanning beds to darken their skin for special events, like prom or weddings. However, tanning addiction has also become a big problem as well. Frequent use of indoor tanning beds or sunbathing in the natural sun can lead to dangerous consequences, such as skin cancer. A new study indicates that frequent tanning may be linked to mood disorders and substance abuse problems as well.
In a recent study, Catherine E. Mosher, Ph.D. at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and Sharon Danoff-Burg, Ph.D. at the University of Albany, State University of New York examined the link between mood disorders, substance abuse, and frequent indoor tanning. They recruited a total of 421 college students to participate in the study in 2006.
The researchers modified two questionnaires that are typically utilized in assessing substance use disorders or alcohol use to assess college students for an addiction to indoor tanning. Students also completed assessments for substance use, anxiety, and depression.
The researchers discovered that 229 of the college students utilized indoor tanning. It was reported that on average, students tanned 23 times a year, which is more than once every two weeks. Additionally, a significant number of students who utilized indoor tanning met criteria for tanning addiction. More specifically, 39.3% (90 students) of the students met criteria for tanning addiction with the use of one questionnaire and 30.6% (70 more students) of the students met the criteria for tanning addiction with the use of the other questionnaire. Between the use of the two questionnaires, a total of 160 college students met the criteria for tanning addiction.
Furthermore, college students who met the criteria for tanning addiction were more likely to report using substances, such as marijuana and alcohol than students who did not meet criteria. They were also more likely to report anxiety than students who did not meet criteria for a tanning addiction.
The researchers hypothesize that there may be a link between substance use, mood disorders, and tanning addiction. However, they admit that more research needs to be done in order to determine if these findings can be replicated.
Tanning addiction is becoming an increasingly big problem in today’s society. According to Wikipedia, although tanning addiction has not yet been officially recognized by the community of medical and mental health professionals, someone who is addicted to tanning might show one or more symptoms. These symptoms may include feeling intense anxiety if one misses a tanning session, frustration about the color of one’s skin, and holding competitions with one’s peers in order to determine who can get the darkest tan.
If you think someone you love might have a problem with tanning addiction, you should encourage him or her to talk to a mental health professional about it. Remind your loved one that even if there are no visible negative consequences of his or her behavior at this time, frequent tanning can lead to skin cancer later in life.
Psych Central: Depression, Anxiety Underlie Frequent Indoor Tanning:
Wikipedia: Tanning Addiction: