Can depression cause hair loss

Can depression cause hair loss? Unveiling The Hidden Impact

Writen By: Faiza Saifur
Reviewed By: Huma Khan
Publish Date: August 30, 2023

So, you are wondering whether your hair loss is a sign of depression, or is your hair loss causing your depression?”

When we have conversations about ‘can depression cause hair loss?’, there might be a real connection between depression and hair loss. In this article, we will investigate this idea to see if there is any truth to it.

Why It’s important to consider: can depression cause hair loss? Feeling extremely sad is known as depression. The process of losing hair isn’t only about impressions; it can affect how we view ourselves. It’s important to explore whether there could be a connection between feeling sad and losing hair.

We aim to dive deeper into whether the state of feeling sad (depression) could genuinely lead to hair loss. We’re not relying on beliefs; rather, we will count on genuine scientific knowledge to come to an end. By doing this, you will gain insights into whether a genuine connection exists between feeling low and experiencing hair loss.

Understanding Depression. 

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest in or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed. It goes beyond the occasional blues, often manifesting in a cluster of hidden symptoms that can include:

  • Overwhelming feelings of sadness or emptiness
  • Changes in sleep patterns, whether insomnia or excessive sleep
  • Changes in appetite or weight.
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or hopelessness.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
  • Profound sadness and irritability can make even the simplest tasks feel insurmountable.
  • Concentration becomes a challenge, and memory often falters, affecting daily life and work.
  • The desire to isolate oneself can strain relationships and hinder social interactions.
  • Activities once enjoyed no longer hold appeal, further deepening the emotional void.

Depression is a global concern that knows no boundaries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression worldwide. It’s a leading cause of disability, affecting people’s ability to work, study, and engage in day-to-day activities. This statistic shows the importance of understanding and addressing the condition, especially when exploring potential links between depression and hair loss.

The Science Behind Hair Loss

By gaining insight into how hair growth works, understanding the different types of hair loss, and the things that can make your hair healthy or not, we can uncover the question “Can depression cause hair loss?”. As we go deeper, we’ll learn more about how depression and hair loss might be related and how knowing this can help us find ways to cope better. 

Hair Grows in Cycles.

Think of hair like a plant, it grows in cycles. There are different phases:

Growing Phase (Anagen): This is when new hair forms and starts to grow.

Transitional Phase (Catagen): Hair growth takes a break, and the hair prepares for a new cycle.

Resting Phase (Telogen): Old hair sheds to make space for new growth.

Different Kinds of Hair Loss

Hair loss isn’t the same for everyone. It comes in different types, each with its own characteristics:

Androgenetic Alopecia: This is when hair slowly thins over time due to family genes.

Telogen Effluvium: Sudden stress, surgery, or weight loss can cause temporary hair shedding.

Alopecia Areata: Your immune system can attack your hair, leading to patchy hair loss.

Traction Alopecia: Hair can be lost if you often pull it tightly through hairstyles.

What Affects Hair Health?

Many things can influence the health of your hair:

  • Genes: The traits passed down from your family can affect your hair’s strength.
  • Hormones: Chemicals in your body, like DHT, can make your hair thin.
  • Lifestyle Choices: How you eat, how stressed you are, and if you smoke can all affect your hair.
  • Health Conditions: Problems like thyroid issues can also make your hair less healthy.
  • Medications: Some medicines might lead to hair loss as a side effect.

The Link between Depression and Hair loss

Scientists have been  researching about “ can depression cause hair loss?”. Recent researches has started to shed light on how these two things might be linked. By looking at what researchers have discovered, we can get a better idea of how depression might affect our hair.

There are a few ways this could happen:

Stress Hormones and Hair Loss

Stress is a big part of depression, and it turns out stress can influence our hair. There’s a hormone called cortisol that goes up when we’re stressed. High levels of cortisol might mess with the hair growth cycle, leading to more hair falling out.

Inflammation’s Effect on Hair Follicles

When we’re depressed, our bodies might become more inflamed. Inflammation can affect the hair follicles, the tiny pockets where hair grows. If these follicles get inflamed, hair might not grow as well, leading to hair thinning.

Disrupted Hair Growth Cycle from Depression

Depression can also mess up the usual hair growth cycle. Remember, there are phases where hair grows, rests, and sheds. Depression might disrupt this cycle, leading to more hair staying in the resting phase and eventually falling out.

Can depression cause hair loss?

Experts believe that depression might be connected to hair loss, and they’ve found some signs that could support this idea. In 2012, a study looked at 157 women of different ages who were getting help for skin problems. The researchers wanted to see if there was a link between depression and losing hair.

They asked the women questions about things like hair type, color, how they take care of their hair, and if they were depressed. Out of all the women, 54 percent said they were experiencing hair loss. Now, here’s the interesting part: 29 percent of the women had at least two signs of depression. And 38 percent of those experiencing hair loss also had symptoms of depression:

1. Feeling sad a lot

2. Not enjoying things like they used to.

3. Feeling tired and lacking energy

The study also found that younger women, in their 20s and 30s, were more likely to have both depression and hair loss.

But the study didn’t prove that depression causes hair loss for sure. The researchers didn’t rule out other reasons for hair loss. Still, the results make us think that depression might be related to losing hair. Even though we’re not exactly sure how they’re connected, this study shows there could be something interesting going on between our emotions and our hair.

Can stress cause hair loss?

The impact of stress on our hair is significant. Stress is known to cause hair to become thin, and it’s even connected to three types of hair loss: telogen effluvium, trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder), and alopecia areata.

While depression and stress aren’t the same, stress can contribute to depression. Big changes in life or ongoing challenges can lead to stress. These could include things like going through a divorce, losing a job, someone you love passing away, troubles at work, problems in relationships or with family, or dealing with serious health issues.

The study we mentioned earlier also found that women who talked about losing hair were more likely to experience not just depression signs but also problems in relationships, something that often brings stress.

Many expectant mothers who go through prenatal depression, experience frequent hair loss. New moms and stay-at-home moms also notice more hair falling out a few weeks or months after having a baby. This is very common, says the American Academy of Dermatology. Your hair should go back to normal growth within several months to a year.

Even if you’re overjoyed with your new baby, having a baby can be stressful. If you’re wondering if depression has anything to do with hair loss after having a baby, especially if you’re dealing with postpartum depression, a therapist can help you. They can offer support and suggest treatments that might be useful as you handle the changes that come with having a new baby.

Can antidepressants cause hair loss?

Recent research points out that certain antidepressants might also be linked to hair loss. In a study from 2018, researchers looked at data from 8 years and about 1,025,140 new users of various antidepressants. These medications included selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and bupropion—a newer type called a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI).

Among these, bupropion (Wellbutrin, Aplenzin) was linked to a higher risk of hair loss. On the other hand, paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva) seemed to have the lowest risk.

The study also pointed out that sertraline (Zoloft) was prescribed more often than other antidepressants. This is interesting because some smaller studies have shown that this antidepressant might also lead to hair loss.

A case study also mentioned that fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline, and paroxetine have been linked with hair loss.

Now, it’s important to know that hair loss isn’t usually a common side effect of depression medications. But it’s something to think about, especially when other causes of hair loss have been ruled out.

Seek Professional Help.

If you’re grappling with depression and hair loss, remember that you don’t have to navigate this journey alone. Consulting experts can provide valuable insights, customized advice, and a compassionate understanding of your unique situation. Reach out for help; it’s a courageous step towards better health.

Several professionals play crucial roles in addressing the challenges of hair loss and depression:

Dermatologists: These doctors specialize in skin, hair, and nail health. They can diagnose the type of hair loss you’re experiencing, offer treatments, and guide you on maintaining hair health.

Psychotherapists: Therapists, including psychologists and counselors, offer emotional support and tools to cope with depression. Their guidance can help you navigate the emotional aspects of hair loss and its impact on your mental well-being.

Psychiatrists: These medical doctors specialize in mental health. If your depression is severe, they can prescribe medications and provide comprehensive treatment plans to manage your emotional health.

Available Treatments.

Depression Treatments: Psychiatrists might prescribe antidepressant medications or recommend psychotherapy, which involves talking through your feelings and developing coping strategies.

Hair Loss Treatments: Dermatologists can offer various treatments based on the type of hair loss you’re experiencing. These treatments might include medications, topical solutions, or other interventions to promote hair growth.

By engaging with these professionals and their expertise, you’re setting the stage for a holistic approach to addressing both your mental well-being and hair health. Remember that everyone’s journey is unique, and the guidance of experts can help you make informed decisions that best suit your individual needs. 

Self-Care Tips for Hair Health.

Taking proactive steps to care for your hair can go a long way toward managing hair loss and promoting overall hair health. In this section, we’ll delve into lifestyle choices and self-care practices tailored specifically to maintaining vibrant and resilient hair.

Embrace Hair-Friendly Lifestyle Choices

The choices you make in your daily life can significantly impact the health of your hair. Incorporating hair-friendly habits can help nurture your locks and potentially minimize hair loss.

Reducing stress is key to maintaining strong, beautiful hair:

  • Engage in relaxation exercises like deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation to alleviate stress, promoting a healthy environment for hair growth.
  • Physical activity boosts blood circulation, ensuring your hair follicles receive essential nutrients for growth.

Your diet and hair care routine play a vital role in hair health:

  • Fuel your body with foods rich in vitamins and minerals crucial for hair growth, such as biotin, vitamin E, and iron.
  • Use mild, sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners to protect your hair from damage. 
  • Avoid excessive heat styling and opt for protective hairstyles to minimize stress on your hair.

Misconceptions about hair loss

To understand how depression might affect hair loss, we need to clear up some misunderstandings. Some people think that hair loss is only about genes, but it’s more complex; stress, health, and how we live also play a role. And don’t believe that hair loss means you’re weak; it’s a natural process tied to many things. 

Also, know that hair loss isn’t simple; it’s influenced by many factors. Family history, hormones, feeling stressed, health issues, medicines, and how we live all work together to affect our hair. By getting rid of these wrong ideas and knowing that hair loss is complicated, we can better understand it and find ways to manage it.

Coping strategies for managing stress and depression to reduce hair loss.

Practice Stress Management Techniques:

Deep breathing exercises, meditation, and mindfulness can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.

Progressive muscle relaxation can help release tension in the body.

Regular Exercise:

Engaging in regular physical activity can boost your mood and reduce stress.

Exercise promotes blood circulation, which may be beneficial for hair health.

Healthy Diet:

Eat a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

Foods containing vitamins and minerals like Biotin, Vitamin D, and Omega-3 fatty acids are considered good for hair health.

Adequate Sleep:

Prioritize a consistent sleep schedule to improve your overall well-being.

Lack of sleep can exacerbate stress and depression.

Social Support:

Stay connected with friends, family, or support groups to combat feelings of isolation.

Talking about your feelings with someone you trust can help alleviate emotional burden.

Engage in Activities You Enjoy:

Doing things you love can boost your mood and provide a sense of purpose.

Hobbies and interests can be a healthy distraction from stress.

Limit Alcohol and Caffeine:

Excessive alcohol and caffeine intake can worsen anxiety and disrupt sleep.

Mind-Body Practices:

Practices like yoga and tai chi combine physical movement with mental relaxation, which can help manage stress.

Set Realistic Goals:

Break down tasks into smaller, manageable steps to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. 

Seek Professional Help:

If you’re struggling with depression, it’s important to consult a mental health professional.

Therapy, counseling, or medication might be recommended based on your situation.

FAQs

Can hair loss be a sign of a mental health issue like depression?

Hair loss itself is not a direct sign of depression, but it can sometimes be linked to emotional distress caused by mental health issues like depression.

Can hair loss worsen if my depression goes untreated?

Untreated depression can potentially contribute to stress, which might indirectly impact hair health. Seeking treatment for depression can have positive effects on overall well-being, including hair health.

Is there a connection between hair loss and anxiety?

Anxiety, like depression, can lead to stress and emotional distress, which might influence hair loss. Managing anxiety through therapeutic methods can indirectly promote healthier hair.

Can hair loss affect self-esteem during depression?

Yes, hair loss can contribute to lower self-esteem, which can exacerbate the emotional challenges associated with depression. Addressing both the emotional and physical aspects is important for overall well-being.

Are there specific vitamins or supplements that can help with hair loss due to stress or depression?

Certain vitamins and supplements, like biotin and vitamin D, can support hair health, but they are not a replacement for addressing stress or depression directly. Consult a healthcare professional before starting any supplements.

Is hair loss a common symptom of major depressive disorder?

While hair loss isn’t a universally common symptom of major depressive disorder, it can be associated with the stress and emotional distress often linked to depression.

Can therapy help with both depression and hair loss?

Therapy can certainly help manage the emotional impact of both depression and hair loss. Therapists can provide coping strategies for emotional well-being and stress reduction, which can indirectly support hair health.

How long does it take for hair to grow back after stress-related hair loss?

Hair typically starts to regrow within a few months once the stress is managed. However, the exact timeline can vary based on individual factors.

Can certain hair care products worsen hair loss in people with depression?

Harsh hair care products and excessive heat styling can potentially worsen hair health for anyone, including those dealing with depression. Using mild, gentle products is advisable for overall hair care.

Wrapping up!

While research hasn’t definitively answered the question Can depression cause hair loss?, it’s important to note that depression, stress, and other mental health issues can still have significant effects on overall health. Many experts suggest that emotional distress and mood symptoms could potentially contribute to hair thinning.

It’s worth mentioning that hair loss due to stress is usually not a permanent condition. Seeking help and support for managing depression could not only have positive effects on your overall well-being but might also promote healthier hair growth.

In conclusion, while the exact relationship between depression and hair loss remains an area of ongoing study, addressing emotional well-being and seeking appropriate support can lead to benefits that extend beyond just hair health.