Depression and Hair Loss

The link between physical and mental health is one that’s often been discussed by the medical community over the years. The overwhelming consensus is that mental health can impact your physical well being, and vice versa.

But is there a link between depression and less well-studied physical manifestations, such as hair loss?

This article will explore the possibility that depression can cause hair loss and, if so, why that might be. I’ll then outline the most common signs and symptoms of depression, as well as the steps you can take to treat both the mental and physical aspects of the condition.

Can Depression Cause Hair Loss?

There are a lot of unexpected physical changes that accompany depression, but is hair loss one of them? It’s definitely possible.

Hair loss is a catch-all term that covers an array of conditions with symptoms such as thinning, hairline recession, and balding. The most common type of hair loss is Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA) – a genetic condition – but many other forms exist.

Interestingly, the many forms of hair loss often share one thing – inflammation.

As the hair follicle is affected – whether by a genetic predisposition, an injury, or an autoimmune attack – it becomes inflamed. When left untreated, this eventually develops into miniaturization which is a process that causes lack of blood flow and poor hair growth.


Antidepressants and Hair Loss

Another way in which depression may trigger hair loss is via antidepressants.

Antidepressants are prescription medications that work to bring the brain’s chemistry back into balance. There are quite a few different types of antidepressants, and these are grouped by which chemicals they affect.

The short list of antidepressant types includes:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)

As with any medication, antidepressants can have side effects including hair loss.

Is It Possible to Regrow Lost Hair?

If depression or antidepressants has led to an increase in shedding of telogen hairs, you may be wondering if regrowth is possible.

The good news is, yes, regrowing your hair loss caused by depression or medication is entirely possible.

Telogen effluvium – the most common type of hair loss associated with depression – is a temporary condition. It will often occur until the underlying cause – such as stress, illness, or even depression – has been properly treated.

You should remember, though, that the hair will not regrow overnight.

It can take a few months from when you begin seeking treatment for depression before you see a positive change in your hair. But it’s important to stay consistent, both for the sake of your mental health and your hairline.

How to Tell If You’re Depressed

The only way to be diagnosed with depression is by visiting with a psychiatrist. However, before you decide to take the next steps you may be wondering whether you’re even a ‘candidate’ for depression. The fact is, depression affects millions of people worldwide. It does not discriminate based on age, gender, or race and it can have debilitating effects if not properly treated.

But first, what are the signs of depression that you should be aware of?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the most common signs include a persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood, feelings of hopelessness, irritability, and loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities. You may notice that it has become difficult for you to concentrate or make decisions, and you may also have difficulty sleeping and/or oversleeping. Depression can also often be accompanied by physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive problems, loss of appetite, and decreased energy.

You Are Not Alone

In the throes of a depressive episode, it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But the truth is that you’re not alone, and there are ways to treat and manage your condition.

There is evidence to suggest that depression can trigger hair loss. However, there is also reason to believe that treating the underlying mental condition can then result in healthy regrowth of your previously lost hair.

Remember that the key is to take care of yourself physically and mentally. This will require hard work, but with the help of your doctors and loved ones, you can take back control of your life.

About Brandon Ross MD