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Can Depression Cause Hair loss? (causal factors & coping strategies)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question: can depression cause hair loss? 

Changes in nature and the appearance of your hair, ranging from hair loss to hair thinning to a complete change in its look and feel could be signaling health issues. Your hair issues could be due to stress, anxiety, or depression. 

Can depression cause Hair loss?

Yes, depression can cause hair loss as it has been directly linked with depression. Depression leads to changes in the texture of the hair causing it to be dry, brittle, and also leads to the breakage of hair strands. 

The various stages of depression can also disturb the hair’s growth cycle and cause severe hair loss. 

Normal Hair loss

It is imminent to understand that a certain level of hair loss is normal. As your hair goes through the growth cycle of growing, shedding, and resting, and as the shedding of your hair follicles occurs, you will lose between fifty to one fifty strands of hair daily. 

Each hair follicle is unique and has an independent growth cycle. This keeps your hair from shedding altogether at the same time. You need to be concerned only and when your hair shedding is above normal which results in hair thinning and hair loss that disrupts your hair growth cycle.

Hair loss due to stress

The connection between hair loss and stress has been confirmed by research and studies. However, stress-related hair loss is temporary. Mental stress can disrupt the normal growth cycle of your hair which causes it to stop functioning completely. 

Stress forces hair follicles to rest, stopping the growth and leading to excessive shedding of your hair. When you are relieved of the stress the growth cycle gets restored to normal.

Stress has an important part in depression, anxiety as well as other mental health issues. 

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Hair loss due to depression

Depression is presently a common mental health issue around the globe that affects a huge proportion of the world population. Depression and hair loss have been linked directly. Depressive state of mind and body harms the hair growth cycle and lead to excessive hair loss, hair breakage, thinning and even balding. 

Certain antidepressant medications such as Prozac can lead to hair thinning as a side effect. Thinning hair also carries a negative effect on mood. 

The physiological states one undergoes during depression such as low mood, discouragement, lethargy, and low self-esteem contribute to reducing the hair growth phase which then leads to hair loss. 

Hair loss and anxiety

Severe anxiety has been linked with hair loss. Severe anxiety can lead to a condition called trichotillomania in which the individual engages in excessive hair pulling. 

How does depression cause hair loss?

Depression primarily causes hair loss due to the stress and anxiety that accompanies it. When you’re stressed out, your body goes into fight or flight mode and releases hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine in huge amounts to deal with the impending stress. This hormonal change will result in an overall change in your body tissues. It also harms the growth of your hair follicles on your scalp. 

Besides, a large number of studies have revealed that stress that is caused due to depression, social isolation, long-term unemployment, and anxiety attacks speeds up the aging process by shortening the length of every DNA strand which in turn leads to hair loss as well as other chronic diseases. 

Life-changing events that correlate depression and hair loss

When you have to deal with a powerful stressor such as a divorce or illness, or go through life-changing events like childbirth, the body inevitably triggers many of the hair follicles to enter a key phase called telogen which is a resting phase of the hair follicles. This causes the hair to fall out all at once, after a few months. 

Added emotional stress can increase the intensity of the effects, causing an increase in the shedding bouts. 

Telogen effluvium 

During the resting phase of our hair follicles, “telogen”, if more hair falls out than usual and if you find your hair starts to become thin it is indicative of a condition called telogen effluvium. This

condition is brought on more quickly by depression and stress and lasts longer in your natural resting phase of the hair growth cycle.

The number of hair-producing follicles will drop drastically which will lead to dormant hair follicles that result in hair loss.

Alopecia

Alopecia refers to a condition that emerges out of depression and results in hair loss. Depression is automatically related to high levels of stress. Stress prompts the white blood cells to attack the hair follicles, causing alopecia. 

Normal hair loss vs hair loss due to depression

There are certain points of differentiation between normal hair loss and hair loss caused by depression. Some of them are as given below;

  • There will be no hairline recession in hair loss caused due to depression which is not the case with normal hair fall caused due to other reasons.
  • Hair loss caused by depression lasts much longer than normal hair fall.
  • When in depression, the hair growth cycle goes into a shocking state which stunts the growth of the hair follicles abruptly when compared to normal hair loss that mostly takes place gradually. 

Coping Strategies to deal with hair loss due to depression.

There are several ways through which you can manage hair loss resulting from depression. They are as follows:

Consult an appropriate health practitioner/doctor.

Before coming to any kind of conclusions, it is important to rule out any physical health issues that might be contributing to hair loss or over shedding of your hair. So it is best to opt for consulting a doctor before moving on with any other alternatives.

Problems related to the thyroid gland, nutrient deficiency, certain sexually transmitted diseases, and psoriasis of the scalp are all factors that could lead to hair loss and other hair problems.

Hair loss is oftentimes, multifactorial. 

Sufficient care for the body

It is very essential to take good care of your body physically as well as mentally. Make sure to get ample exercise of the right kind, that suits your body needs and intake of necessary nutrients. This in turn helps in lowering the level of lethargy and energy drain caused by depression and also helps in lowering the amount of stress you have to deal with. 

Manage to eat a well-balanced diet and get enough rest possible.

Controlling the intake of antidepressants

Certain medications that are prescribed for the treatment of depression could be a contributor to your hair loss. One such medicine is Prozac. Consult your concerned doctor and see if that is the case to take further action. This happens due to the hormonal changes the medications caused in the body that affects the hair growth cycle.

In such situations, you can plan on controlling the dosage level or stopping the consumption of the particular medication altogether, to manage hair loss. 

General check-up

Routine checkups with your doctor will reveal any kind of hindrances or issues that may be present in your body which could be responsible for your depression and can help you manage your hair loss.

Stress management

If you are excessively stressed out or on the edge most of the time, it could lead to a state of depression over time. This in turn which causes hair loss will last longer and will be more adverse due to the presence of excessive stress in your body. Managing your stress level, is thus, important to put a bar on your hair loss problem. 

Consciously choosing to give your body rest through proper sleep and mental health aid, if needed will drastically reduce the amount of stress you need to undergo, over time, and restore the normal growth cycle of your hair follicles. 

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question: can depression cause hair loss? We analyzed the relationship between hair loss and depression, stress anxiety, followed by an examination of the causal factors behind hair loss due to depression, telogen effluvium, alopecia, and effective coping strategies to deal with the same. 

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

FAQs: can depression cause hair loss?

Is hair loss a symptom of depression?

Yes. hair loss could turn out to be a symptom of depression. This is because some individuals who suffer from depression might begin to develop signs of depression as symptoms of anxiety and stress start to show up more evidently and pronounced. 

Another related reason could be due to the lack of key nutrients needed for hair growth that gets affected due to severe stress levels in your body.

Can stress cause hair loss?

Yes. stress can lead to hair loss. There exists three types of hair loss that are associated with high-stress levels. They are telogen effluvium, trichotillomania, and alopecia areata. 

How do you stop hair fall from stress?

The one best way out to stop hair fall from stress is through ample exercise. This is simply because exercise releases good chemicals in the body that help in managing stress. A healthy body and a healthy mind are prerequisites for healthy hair. 

Can hair grow back after thinning?

The regrowth of hair after thinning depends upon the reasons for thinning. If the reasons are genetics, the chances of your hair growing back on its own are very less. On the other hand, if it’s due to less care or other related reasons you need to take action to see results.

How much hair falling out is normal?

In a day, it’s normal to shed between 50 to 100 strands of hair. If in case, the body sheds out more hair than this amount, that is when you might be suffering from excessive shedding of hair. The medical term for this condition is called telogen effluvium.

How do I know if I am losing too much hair?

You can know if you are losing too much hair by carrying out a pull test at home. In a small clean area, run your hands through dry hair. If more than three strands of hair come out in your hand then you might be suffering from telogen or anagen effluvium. 

Can hair loss be a sign of something serious?

Not always. Usually, hair loss is temporary and your hair locks will be restored. However, in certain cases, hair loss can be a sign of something more serious that could be due to changes happening inside your body or adverse health conditions. Hypothyroidism is one such condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones and that which leads to hair loss. 

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References

https://wimpoleclinic.com/blog/can-depression-cause-hair-loss/
https://www.hshairclinic.co.uk/news/mental-health-and-hair-loss

https://www.quora.com/Does-depression-lead-to-hair-fall

https://nutrafol.com/blog/depression-related-hair-loss/

https://www.practo.com/consult/hair-loss-due-to-depression-can-depression-cause-hair-loss/q

https://www.hrc4hair.com/blog/hair-loss-and-depression.html#:~:text=Depression%20is%20a%20common%20mental,cycle%20and%20cause%20hair%20loss.

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