Is Depression Causing Thinning Hair and a Receding Hairline?'

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Name: Mark

Question: I’ve been depressed for 3 years. Not on antidepressants. And my hair is thinning. I’m 52. Used to have very thick full head of hair. It’s thinning and receding now. Can it be reversed? Or am I going to lose more. How can it stop. And get thicker. Please help me figure this out. Thank you.

Answer: Hi, Mark. There are likely to be two or three issues that could be contributing to your hair loss.

In order to provide you with an accurate diagnosis and prognosis regarding your hair thinning we would ideally need more information. Knowing when you first started to notice signs of hair loss and whereabouts on the scalp the hair fall affected, as well as whether it was gradual, sudden or if it started suddenly then began to gradually thin, is particularly useful. As it is, and working off the information provided, we would consider the following to be the most likely scenario.

Male Hair Loss in Later Life Thinning Hair QuestionIf you have been depressed for the past three years, it is more than reasonable to assume that this has had a negative impact on your hair. Depression can place a strain on the body. This, in turn, can have a drying effect, which often makes the hair appear thinner and duller than normal. Furthermore, this stress can cause hair loss in the form of a temporary condition known as Telogen Effluvium.

Depression often has additional effects on a person's lifestyle which can also cause thinning hair from the same condition. These include smoking, regularly drinking too much alcohol and eating either eat too much or too little, which can lead to added complications due to nutritional imbalances.

In cases of Telogen Effluvium, although the shedding does not present until around three months after it has been triggered, when it does it can seem sudden. It causes diffuse hair fall from all over the scalp, resulting in a drop in hair density of up to 50-70 per cent.  This hair loss condition will usually clear up of its own accord within six months of the underlying cause being dealt with, though treatment can often help to speed this process along.

Where the shedding still takes the same form but goes on for more than six months, it is known as Chronic Telogen Effluvium or 'Diffuse Hair Loss'. This is a more intense, prolonged version - as the name suggests - and, again, it will generally clear up naturally once the reason for the hairloss has been addressed. Treatment is also available to help spur on regrowth and can be very effective when used as directed.

The location of your hair loss leads us to suspect that Male Pattern Baldness is also a factor. Although this is a genetic condition, its onset can be sparked - or the rate of shedding for existing male hair loss, accelerated - by a bout of Telogen Effluvium. The fact you mention a receding hairline is key here as this pattern of hair loss is associated with MPB, but not with Telogen Effluvium. Male pattern hair loss causes thinning hair around the top of the scalp and hairline only so it is likely the depression, or a related issue, caused a form of temporary shedding which then triggered the onset of, or sped up hereditary hair loss. It is also possible for both conditions to be in effect simultaneously.

Another factor worth noting is that our hair naturally becomes thinner with age. This would explain a reduction in overall hair volume, but would not account for a receding hairline.

In order to provide a confirmed diagnosis of your condition and recommendations for suitable hair loss treatments- it is worth noting that specialists do not tend to recommend patients with a history of depression - medicated or not - take the DHT-blocker, finasteride 1mg - where appropriate, it would be best to have a personal consultation with a hair specialist.

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