Does Depression cause hair loss? (& 5 ways to manage it)

This blog will attempt to concisely answer the question, “does depression cause  hair loss”. It will address the question of what is depression, what normal hair loss is, how depression and hair loss are related, what research has to say about it, and how to deal with it. 

After you’ve enjoyed the Does Depression cause hair loss mentioned below, I would recommend you to take a look at Balding and Depression too.

Does depression cause hair loss?

Yes.. depression can cause hair loss. It doesn’t necessarily have to be sudden, but exposure to depressing and stressful events can lead to hair fall. Although this association between mental health and hair fall does not seem obvious or instantly apparent, it is in fact very significant. A vicious cycle forms where poor mental health impacts hair loss, which perpetuates a poor self- image, and making it an endless cycle. 

Does Depression cause hair loss? (& 5 ways to manage it)

What is depression?

Depression is among the most prominent and leading mental illnesses around the globe. It is a persistent and pervasive feeling of sadness that causes clinically significant distress for a period longer than 2 weeks. Depression, like most mental illnesses, causes distress not only to the sufferer, but also those around him/her. 

Signs of mild depression:

  • Feeling sad or empty
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Irritability or frustration
  • Hopelessness 
  • Changes in sleep and appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of energy
  • Extreme guilt, or low self esteem

Signs of severe depression:

  • Inability to focus or make decisions
  • No energy to undertale even daily activities
  • Suicidal ideation and thoughts
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Physical pains or gastric issues that have no somatic explanations
  • Memory and thinking problems like increased forgetfulness

If you or someone around you is suffering from any such symptoms, or is distressed over the feelings of sadness or frustration that you/ they feel, it is recommended that professional help be sought. 

Normal hair loss:

Some hair loss is normal, and a part of aging. As your hair goes through its cycle of growth, 50-150 hair are lost/ shed daily. Each hair follicle is unique and has a different growth cycle, ensuring that you do not shed all  your hair at the same time. 

When the shedding of this hair is above normal, hair thinning can occur. This can result from the disruption of your hair growth cycle for some reason. 

Hair loss and Depression:

Depression is among the most common mental illnesses. The link between hair loss and depression is such that depression not only causes hair breakage and fall, but also changes the texture of your hair by making it dry and brittle. 

Depression can change or alter your hair growth cycle, making hair loss prominent. Further, certain medications prescribed as a treatment for depression can also have side effects like hair loss. 

Our hair normally goes through a “resting phase.” It happens about every three years and lasts about three months before our hair starts to grow again. During this resting phase, more hairs than usual fall out, and our hair looks thinner. This process is called “telogen effluvium.” It can be brought on quicker by stress, starting earlier and lasting longer in the natural cycle of hair growth and rest.

Three types of hair loss associated with stress of depression include: 

  • Telogen effluvium. In telogen effluvium, high levels of stress push large numbers of hair follicles into a resting phase, disturbing the hair growth cycle. Thus, within a few months, affected hairs might fall out suddenly.
  • Trichotillomania. Trichotillomania is a psychiatric disorder, which is an irresistible urge to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body. This hair pulling can be a way of coping with negative or uncomfortable feelings, such as stress, tension, loneliness, boredom or frustration.
  • Alopecia areata. A variety of factors are thought to cause alopecia areata, possibly including severe stress. With alopecia areata, our own body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles — causing hair loss.

Hair loss may also end up becoming a factor in the symptoms of depression. It may give people suffering from such depression a focal point for the negative feelings they are experiencing. In depression sadness may often be unexplainable, hair loss however becomes a socially acceptable reason for such feelings. 

What research has to say about it?

Psychiatric disturbances, such as acute anxiety and endogenous depression, have been considered possible causes of diffuse hair shedding [1]. 

Compared with the general population, people with hair loss have an increased prevalence of psychiatric disorders, including a major depressive episode, an anxiety disorder, social phobia, or a paranoid disorder [2]. 

Stress and hair loss don’t have to be permanent. If you get your stress under control, your hair might grow back [3]. 

The physiological states of depression such as low mood, discouragement, low self-esteem and feeling drained can be a factor in reducing the hair growth phase, leading to hair loss. It is also important to note that some antidepressant medications such as Prozac can have side effects that can cause hair loss [4]. 

How to deal with it?

If hair loss is due to psychological reasons, it is often temporary. This means that it can be reversed. 

  • Get professional opinion about cause

Instead of speculating about the causes, it is recommended that you go see a doctor to alienate what the real cause for your hair loss is. Once cause is pointed out, treatment becomes clear and possible. 

  • Try changing your style

Although this hair thinning can be reversed, it may take time. One way to manage hair loss then becomes going to a different stylist, or changing your style from the same stylist, making your thinner hair look fuller. 

  • Remember it is temporary

Hope can be a very significant antidote to depression. Hair fall may in the long term end up perpetuating depression by attacking your sense of self and self esteem. Thus, remembering and focussing on the transient nature of this hair loss, can help take off a little burden/ stress and end up making it a little better. 

  • Seek support

It is important to talk about things, as keeping them inside can sometimes make the situations worse. Talking and sharing may help you feel lighter, and help with dealing with stress. The problems you are facing may end up being more common than you would’ve expected. 

  • Eat right!

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.

A lot of vitamins and minerals can help promote healthy hair growth. Thus eating food naturally rich in such nutrients, as well as adding supplements containing vitamin D3,C and iron and zinc to your diet may end up making your hair become thicker as well as healthier. 

Conclusion

In this blog, we discussed the question, “does depression cause hair loss?” We started by looking at what depression is, what normal hair fall looks like, the link between depression and hair loss, what research has to say about this and ultimately, ways to deal with the same. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): Does depression cause hair loss?

Can stress cause hair loss?

Yes, stress can cause hair loss, however, this hair loss is usually only temporary. 

How can I stop hair from falling due to stress?

Since the hairfall induced by stress is temporary, it can be stopped by reversing the stress. Stress can be controlled by practicing relaxation techniques, getting regular exercise, seeking professional help, learning effective problem solving techniques etc. 

Can mental illness cause baldness?

Several mental illnesses have been associated with hair loss. Some of these are: anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, impulse control disorders, trichotillomania etc. 

Can hair grow back after thinning?

The answer to this question depends on the reason for hair thinning. If the hair thinning or loss is due to genetics, it will not grow back on it’s own. However, if it is stress induced, then it can grow back after the stress levels are reduced. 

How can I thicken my  hair?

Hair can be thickened using thickening products, cutting hair regularly to allow healthy growth, using volumizing products, eating foods and supplements that keep the hair healthy, tc. 

What is the best vitamin for hair loss?

Hair loss vitamins such as biotin, vitamin b3, vitamin c, and minerals like iron and zinc can help by making hair healthy and longer. 

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

[1]. Hadshiew IM, Foitzik K, Arck PC, Paus R. Burden of hair loss: stress and the underestimated psychosocial impact of telogen effluvium and androgenetic alopecia. J Invest Dermatol 2004; 123: 455–7. DOI: 10.1111/j.0022-202X.2004.23237.x. PubMed

[2]. Koo JY, Shellow WV, Hallman CP, Edwards JE. Alopecia areata and increased prevalence of psychiatric disorders. Int J Dermatol 1994; 33: 849–50. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-4362.1994.tb01018.x. PubMed

[3]. Hall-Flavin D.K., (n.d.) Can stress cause hair loss? Mayo Clinic. 

[4]. Marsh P., (2018) Mental Health and hair loss. Harley Street hair clinic. 

[5]. Stranger M., (2018) The link between depression and hair loss. Nutrafol. 

[6]. Komaroff A.L., (n.d.,) Can depression cause hair loss? Opsgenie. 

[7]. Hussain K., Gkini M.A., Oakley A., (2019) Psychological effects of hair loss. DermNet NZ. 

Was this post helpful?