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Study Results Could Help Depression-Related Hair Loss

A new study at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, has found a link between depression and inflammation, which could open the door to new treatment for people with certain types of hair loss.

Researchers found evidence that a distinct type of depression is influenced by persistent inflammation and have suggested that a different way of treating it might be with anti-inflammatory drugs rather than anti-depressants.

Stubborn symptoms of depression


Emory researchers discovered high inflammation
is linked to a “failure to communicate” between two parts of the brain: the ventral striatum (VS, vertical cross section) and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC, horizontal)

Reporting on the findings, futurity.org explains this data “indicates that persistent inflammation affects the brain in ways that are connected with stubborn symptoms of depression, such as anhedonia – the inability to experience pleasure.”

The reason this may be of importance to hair loss experts is because the hair loss condition Telogen Effluvium (and an associated, on-going condition known as Chronic Telogen Effluvium or Diffuse Hair Loss) is often associated with stress and depression.

Inflammation is an underlying cause in some cases of hair loss,” says Belgravia senior hair loss specialist, Leonora Doclis. “Additionally certain generally temporary hair loss conditions can be triggered by stress and depression but the medication for treating these disorders can often cause further shedding or prolong these conditions as a side-effect which can be highly distressing for those affected.”

“If, by treating depression through the use of anti-inflammatories, any associated causes of thinning hair could be minimised or even prevented, this would be a huge help. Especially given these types of clients have enough to deal with without having to worry about their hair as well – even though regrowth treatment is available, it is important to deal with the underlying cause so as not to provoke something of a vicious cycle.”

Anti-inflammatory drugs for hair loss?

pseudopelade scarring alopecia

Pseudopelade is a form of scarring alopecia which is said to look like ‘footprints in the snow’

Leonora also explained how the study may be a jumping off point for new hair loss research for other conditions.

These findings are also exciting as they may provide insights for researchers investigating how certain conditions are treated,” she notes. “Particularly the more severe Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis which currently have limited and unreliable treatment options but have been linked with depression in clinical trials.”

The link between inflammation and hair loss cannot be understated: there is even a condition named Folliculitis which is essentially an inflammation of the hair follicles. Another condition, Pseudopelade (also known as Alopecia Cicatrisata) causes inflammation in the upper hair follicle, whilst Scarring Alopecia can be triggered by a range of medical conditions including Lupus, and generally leads to permanent hair loss also due to inflammation.

Throwing new light onto the effects of inflammation, the Georgia study not only opens new discourse into ideas about blocking inflammation as a way to treat some patients with depression, it also raises the question that anti-inflammatory drugs may be worth investigating as a possible course of treatment for some of these hair loss conditions.

Furthermore, whilst Alopecia Areata is often linked to sudden shock or trauma rather than depression, this news may warrant studies into links between the two given that inflammation of the hair follicles is common in cases of Alopecia Areata.

At present, patchy hair loss from Alopecia Areata can be treated at Belgravia using high strength minoxidil, as can Telogen Effluvium – although it is worth pointing out that hair lost to the latter usually grows back on its own in up to twelve months. Treatment programmes, however, can help to accelerate this process.

Belgravia CentreThe 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.

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