One of the many causes of hair loss in adults is depression – both as a side-effect of taking anti-depressants and as a result of the depression itself. But could the way in which you use your iPhone mark you out as a potential candidate for depression? Scientists in Illinois claim it could.
Futurity.org reported this week how researchers at Northwestern University’s Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies discovered that the more time people spent using their mobile phone, the more likely they were to be depressed. GPS data collected from participants’ smartphones helped to pinpoint depressive tendencies even further.
Lack of mobility plays its part
Scientists already knew that people who spend a lot of time at home and who visit fewer locations than others traditionally show a higher propensity for depression – this proved true among the test subjects. By checking participants’ GPS location data every five minutes a very clear pattern of people’s daily routines emerged.
When a sedentary, home-based lifestyle was coupled with high phone use, it painted a picture of isolation and boredom. The average daily usage for depressed individuals (about 68 minutes) was four times that of a non-depressed user, and indicative of people who tended to withdraw and play games or surf the web on their phone.
As part of the trial, participants completed a questionnaire measuring depression. Known as the PHQ-9, it is designed to ascertain levels of sadness, hopelessness, sleep disturbances and other key factors. By the end of the test, scientists claim their data about phone use and lack of mobility matched up with the findings of the PHQ-9 test almost 90 per cent of the time.
Extrapolating from this, the experts say that the data provided by an iPhone could passively be used to spot people with a heightened propensity for depression, thus helping them to get help early, avoiding depression-linked hair loss in the process. In the not too distant future, people might be able to download an app which alerted their depressive behaviour to a care worker. Or the iPhone itself might become part of the cure, suggesting interesting and sociable things to do when the app spotted people exhibiting depressive behaviour.
Depression and hair loss
There are countless hair loss cases in which depression is thought to have played its part: the body can react badly to stress and fatigue and hair health can be dramatically affected as a result. Depressed people can tend to smoke and drink more, as well as negatively altering their diet, all of which can deplete nutrient intake. This can, in turn, play its part in causing Telogen Effluvium, a temporary hair loss condition which can also spark or worsen androgenetic alopecia in those who are predisposed to hereditary hair loss.
Another way in which depression can lead to hair loss is when it leads to Trichotillomania, a psychological condition which compels people to pull or twist out their own hair. This can lead to hair breakage and bald patches which can result in permanent hair loss.
Sometimes anti-depressant drugs, such as fluoxetine, are the cause of a hair loss condition – usually Telogen Effluvium, which causes thinning hair all over the scalp and tends to last up to 12 months. Figures show that between 12 and 19 per cent of people taking Lithium (a treatment for Bipolar Disorder) experience this type of hair loss.
Depression is a medical condition that should never be taken lightly, and experts advise that a visit to a GP is a good place to start for people who have noticed their moods take a turn for the worse. If hair loss is part of the picture, a visit to a specialist hair loss clinic can help too, as experts can work in conjunction with your medical advisor to formulate a regrowth plan featuring effective hair loss treatments and hair growth boosters.
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 Consultation 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 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.