Clinical depression places a lot of strain on the body, as well as the mind, with many people experiencing aches, pains, and fatigue.
One lesser-known side effect of depression can sometimes be hair loss, and there are broadly two possible reasons for this: 1) the hair loss is caused by the anti-depressant medication that has been prescribed for the individual; or 2) the disruption to the person’s lifestyle combined with the change in their hormone levels triggers a form of stress-related hair loss.
Anti-depressants and hair loss
Most people who are diagnosed with clinical depression are prescribed a combination of medication and talking therapies. Unfortunately, some of these medications can cause hair loss in a small number of people who take them.
Recent studies have suggested that small numbers of people who take anti-depressants could experience a type of hair loss that causes a temporary condition called Telogen Effluvium. This condition can last up to 12 months and most commonly occurs in patients taking Fluoxetine (also known as Prozac), although tricyclic anti-depressants can also, although rarely, cause TE too. Figures reveal that around 12%-19% of those taking Lithium, which is usually prescribed as treatment for Bipolar Disorder, could experience this type of shedding too, which presents as diffuse thinning across the whole scalp.
If you are experiencing depression, we recommend asking your GP or mental health practitioner to discuss the potential side effects of any medication they are considering prescribing for you. If you do experience any hair loss during your course of treatment, this is most likely to be temporary and the hair will regrow when you have completed the course of anti-depressants. At this point, it is a good idea to make an appointment with a hair loss expert, who can assess the condition of your hair and advise on any treatment needed to restore it to full health.
Depression and hair loss
Hair loss is also a possibility for those who are experiencing depression but who are not taking anti-depressants. The body can react negatively to the symptoms of depression such as stress and fatigue, impacting hair health and triggering one of the stress-related hair loss conditions such as Telogen Effluvium, or Alopecia Areata where the depression is a result of a sudden incident or trauma.
Some people with anxiety disorders can develop Trichotillomania, a psychological condition where the individual tugs at and pulls out their own hair, causing bald patches. Left untreated, this condition can cause irreversible scarring and permanent hair loss.
Those suffering from depression may change their diet, eating more unhealthy foods or losing their appetite – this could deprive the body (and hair) of essential nutrients to stay healthy. Weight loss or gain can also impact hair health.
If you are experiencing hair loss after a period of depression, it’s always a good idea to consult a hair loss specialist to repair any damage and give the hair its best chance of natural re-growth.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our online diagnostic form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our hair loss success stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 0800 077 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.