Can Depression Cause Hair Thinning?

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In this blog, we will answer the question “Can Depression Cause Hair Thinning?” and also explore the role of depression in hair loss, the role of stress, when to seek support, and answer frequently asked questions. 

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Can Depression Cause Hair Thinning?

Well, to answer it straight away, yes depression can definitely cause hair thinning but in order to better understand how depression causes hair thinning, one needs to understand depression and then explore the role of depression in hair thinning. 

What is Depression?

Depression can cause a plethora of symptoms, along with feeling persistently sad, losing interest in things you normally enjoy and feeling overwhelmed, and having difficulty in coping. One of the less obvious symptoms of depression is hair thinning and hair loss. 

When you feel depressed, your body may respond by growing and shedding hair at a slower rate than normal. This is known as telogen effluvium, which is a type of hair loss that occurs when your hair is in the telogen or resting phase.

Some people may only notice their hair has become thinner over time, while others may notice a sudden or gradual increase in hair loss. Hair loss and thinning can be caused by many different factors, such as genetics, medical conditions, and stress. But hair loss caused by depression is often reversible.

What happens when you are depressed?

When you’re depressed, your body produces less testosterone, which causes thinning hair in men and women. In women, hair loss can also result from increased androgens, which are the male sex hormones. This type of hair loss is also known as male-pattern baldness and is caused by genetics and hormones.

If you’re suffering depression symptoms and you’ve seen considerable hair loss, you might be wondering if it’s just another indicator or byproduct of depression.

While there is no proof that sadness causes hair fall directly, it may have a contribution in thinning hair in a more indirect manner. A sudden or considerable surge in hair loss, on the other hand, can easily add to an already stressful situation or aggravate an already depressed mood.

Role of Depression in hair thinning and hair loss

Some data suggests that some depressive symptoms may be connected to hair loss, according to experts.

In a 2012 research, 157 women of all ages seeking medical treatment at a health care facility investigated probable correlations with loss of hair and depressive symptoms.

The researchers wanted to know more about:

  • current prescription drugs undergirding medical problems related to hair loss depression symptoms 
  • undergirding medical problems related to hair loss depression symptoms 

Hair loss was reported by 54 percent of the women surveyed. Although 29% of the women experienced two or more symptoms, 38% of the women who experienced hair loss had at least two distinct depression symptoms:

A persistently depressed or gloomy mood reduced interest in and pleasure of routine activities, as well as weariness and poor energy in everyday life. Female individuals in their twenties and thirties were also more likely to have depression and hair loss symptoms, according to the researchers.

Nevertheless, the study did not find that depression was the cause of hair loss. In addition, the researchers did not rule out all medical reasons for hair loss. Nonetheless, the findings revealed that mood disturbances, such as despair, might be connected to hair loss.

The role of stress in hair loss

Hair loss is a well-known side effect of stress. In reality, stress has been linked to three forms of hair loss:

Telogen effluvium 

Alopecia areata, often known as trichotillomania, is a hair-pulling condition.

Of course, depression and stress are not the same thing. However, stress might play a role in depression. Unexpected, unwelcome life changes, as well as persistent life issues, can add to your stress levels.

The following are examples of possible triggers:

  • employment loss due to divorce
  • a loved one’s death, work-related stress, or personal or family issues
  • health problems that are persistent or significant

Emotional discomfort can deepen and eventually lead to depression if you find it extremely difficult to manage and adapt to these pressures.

Women who experienced hair loss were also more prone to have not only depression and anxiety, but also relationship difficulties, which are typically a substantial cause of stress, according to the study’s findings.

A few days/weeks after giving birth, many women notice a surge in hair loss. As per the American Academy of Dermatology, hair loss is fairly prevalent after delivery. Within a few months to a year, your hair can most probably resume its normal growth pace.

Regardless of how happy or enthusiastic you seem to be about your newborn delivery is a potentially distressing event. If you’ve observed signs of postnatal depression, you may question if depression plays a role in hair loss.

A psychotherapist can give care and assistance if you explore suitable therapies, whether you’re dealing with typical strain as you adjust to the arrival of a newborn or postpartum depression.

Antidepressants might play a role, too. According to current studies, some antidepressants may increase your risk of hair loss.

A major research published in 2018, looked at data from 1,025,140 new antidepressant users over the course of eight years. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and bupropion, a novel form of antidepressant classified as a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor, were among the medications prescribed (NDRI).

Bupropion (Wellbutrin, Aplenzin) was linked to the greatest risk of hair loss, while paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva) was linked to the least. 

Sertraline (Zoloft) was administered more frequently than other antidepressants, according to one research. This conclusion is noteworthy since a number of case studies have discovered evidence that this antidepressant too can cause hair loss, especially studies from 2016, 2015 and 2005

In a case study published in 2013, fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline, and paroxetine were all linked to hair loss.

Researchers point out that hair loss isn’t always a typical adverse effect of antidepressants. Even so, it’s a consideration worth investigating, especially if you’ve checked out all other possibilities.

Other potential causes of hair thinning

Hair loss can be caused by a variety of factors.

Among the most common ones to think about are:

  • The course of aging
  • The course of ageing hormonal imbalances associated to pregnancy or menopause 
  • hardship or trauma, including sickness and hospitalization
  • inherited premature baldness, which can afflict persons of any gender
  • certain medicines
  • slimming down
  • a lack of nutrients
  • hairstyles with a lot of volume

Hair loss can be caused by thyroid diseases such as hypothyroidism. Your thyroid releases lesser hormones than it used to if you have hypothyroidism.

This can cause symptoms similar to those seen in depression, such as:

  • difficulty absorbing or remembering information
  •  energy loss
  •  weight gain

In brief, while both a thyroid disorder and depression are conceivable, hypothyroidism can induce hair loss and symptoms that are usually associated with depression. 

When to see a doctor for your hair thinning?

It’s always a good idea to consult a dermatologist or other healthcare expert if you’re concerned about hair loss.

Hair loss can occur for a variety of causes, even if you are depressed. You can keep losing hair if you don’t get the correct therapy.

Because considerable hair loss can generate stress and lead to a depressed mood, it’s possible that hair loss is fueling melancholy rather than the other way around.

If you detect any of the following, it’s recommended to contact a professional:

  • bloating or weight fluctuations
  • memory problems and mental exhaustion
  • issues with sleep
  • irritation, anxiety, or restlessness
  • dry or thin skin fragile nails or hair muscular weakness
  • Inflamed or scaly skin areas, especially on the scalp
  • lumps of hair on the bedding or in your sink, hairbrush, or comb bald spots hair loss all over your body

Finding support for your concerns

But on the other hand, if you have persistent hair loss or loss that you can’t link to a medical problem, it might be a sign of a mental health problem.

Engaging with a mental health expert is a useful next step if you suspect your hair loss is linked to psychological health disorders like depression, stress, or worry.

A therapist can help you with:

  • explain healthy coping methods for depression provide assistance in acknowledging and dealing with emotional pain
  • provide advice on self-care techniques that can assist to alleviate symptoms
  • In certain situations, your therapist may also be able to assist you in identifying and treating particular problems related to hair loss.

Consider the following scenario

Because you don’t have the stamina to eat normal meals, you’ve seen some weight loss.

An unanticipated (and troublingly long) breakup sparked your emotions of depression.

Worries about seeking work after you’ve lost your job might make you feel nervous and helpless.

Any type of excessive or continuing chronic stress might lead to depression. Hair loss caused by mental health issues, on the other hand, will usually improve with the correct sort of assistance.

It’s advisable to contact a mental health professional as soon as possible if you:

Have recurring cravings to rip out your hair, lashes, and eyebrows have seen alterations in your partnerships or day-to-day performance, struggle to participate in self-care chores or everyday duties and obligations

Are you already receiving treatment for depression? If the symptoms start to improve, your hair loss might be due to something else completely. Regardless, it’s essential to discuss significant hair loss to your counselor or healthcare provider so that you may discuss other treatment options.

If you’re using an SSRI that’s been associated with hair loss, you might want to try a smaller concentration or switching to a different medicine. Simply follow the directions on your prescription unless your physician or psychotherapist instructs you differently.

Conclusion

We discussed various aspects of hair thinning and hair loss, role of depression in hair loss, potential causes of hair thinning, when to see a medical professional, and how to find support for your concerns. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Can Depression Cause Hair Thinning?

Will my hair grow back once it has thinned due to stress?

Hair loss and stress may not need to be permanent. Your hair may grow back if you get your stress under control. Consult your doctor if you observe abrupt or uneven hair loss, or greater hair loss than normal when combing or washing your hair.

How do you deal with depression-related hair loss?

Hair loss-related anxiety and despair can be managed with cognitive behavioral therapy and support groups, as well as antidepressant medication [9]. Psychological treatment for hair loss is vital, but the ideal strategy is unknown and will vary from patient to patient.

Is it possible for thin hair to grow back thick?

Hair follicles must be able to create new hair in any situation. If this is the case, normal hair growth and thickness may be restored.” Again, getting thicker, fuller hair is achievable, but it is dependent on the individual’s hair follicles, genetics, and overall health, all of which differ from person to person.

Is serotonin deficiency linked to hair loss?

Many drugs, including certain popular psychotropic and serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors, can cause hair loss, notably diffuse scalp alopecia, which is a highly painful side effect (SSRIs).

What medications for depression cause hair loss?

Mood stabilizers and antidepressants

Hair loss is a side effect of certain antidepressant and mood stabilizers drugs. Sertraline and paroxetine hydrochloride (Paxil) are two drugs that may induce this (Zoloft)

Is it true that anti-anxiety medicine does not result in hair loss?

All other antidepressants showed a lower risk of hair loss than bupropion (an atypical antidepressant), with fluoxetine (brand name Prozac) and paroxetine (brand name Paxil) having the lowest risk. When compared to Wellbutrin, fluvoxamine (brand name Luvox) had the greatest risk.

References

https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/can-depression-cause-hair-loss#takeaway
https://www.forhims.com/blog/the-psychological-impact-of-male-hair-loss

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