Have you ever looked in the mirror and noticed that your once-thick head of hair is suddenly thinning out? Has anyone asked if you’re okay because they’ve noticed the dark circles rimming your eyes or the seemingly permanent line on your brow?
If so, unfortunately, you aren’t alone. Hair loss—which can be temporary or more permanent due to disorders like alopecia areata. It is as well as heavy fatigue and lack of interest in activities that were once considered enjoyable can all be signs of depression.
While they may seem harmless at first glance, these issues should not be ignored as each symptom could indicate a bigger problem festering beneath it.
In this blog post we explore “is hair loss a sign of depression’ and what steps someone might take if they feel depressed—or even suspect that others close to them do too.
Is Hair Loss a Sign of Depression?
Recent studies have shed light on the undeniable link between hair loss and depression. Research has indicated that patients suffering from alopecia areata (AA), a common form of hair loss, may be more likely to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety than those without this condition. Additionally, individuals who suffer from other forms of hair loss such as pattern baldness and telogen effluvium are also more prone to experiencing mental health issues.
One of the main reasons why individuals with hair loss may be at a higher risk for depression is that it can have a powerful psychological effect on those affected. Individuals who suffer from hair loss often report feeling embarrassed, unattractive, insecure, and ashamed. These feelings can lead to an increase in levels of stress or anxiety, which can also trigger depression.
Furthermore, individuals with hair loss may also experience social isolation due to the stigma associated with it. This can lead to further feelings of loneliness and depression as they feel disconnected from those around them. Additionally, individuals who suffer from hair loss may find it difficult to take part in activities that they once found enjoyable, such as exercising and socializing. This can further contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety.
6 Major Symptoms of Hair Loss and Depression
There are several signs and symptoms of both hair loss and depression that can help individuals determine if they’re suffering from both conditions. Here are the six essential ones.
- Low self-esteem. Individuals with hair loss may feel less confident in their appearance, leading to a decrease in overall self-esteem. Those with depression often also experience feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy.
- Difficulty concentrating. People with depression may find it difficult to focus on tasks or retain information, while those with hair loss may have difficulty recalling memories associated with their former hairstyle.
- Loss of interest in activities. Those with hair loss often lose interest in activities they once enjoyed, as well as feel disconnected from those around them. Those with depression may also find it difficult to participate in activities that used to bring them joy.
- Changes in sleep patterns. People with hair loss often experience insomnia due to feelings of insecurity and anxiety, while those with depression may take longer to fall asleep or wake up earlier than usual.
- Irritability and sadness. Hair loss can cause individuals to become easily irritated or frustrated, while those with depression often experience feelings of hopelessness and despair.
- Social isolation. Individuals with hair loss may avoid social situations due to feeling embarrassed about their appearance, while those with depression may feel disconnected from others and have difficulty connecting with people.
Three Types of Hair Loss
Hair loss is a common condition that can affect people of all ages and genders. While some forms of hair loss are temporary, others can be long-lasting and require medical treatment. It’s important to understand the three main types of hair loss so you can identify the symptoms and seek appropriate treatment if necessary.
1. Alopecia Areata (AA)
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own hair follicles. This can lead to complete or patchy hair loss on the scalp, as well as other areas of the body such as the eyebrows and eyelashes.
Here are a few other related features:
- Typically appears as round or oval bald patches on the scalp
- Hair may spontaneously regrow after a few months but can reoccur
- Can be triggered by emotional stress, hormones, and certain medical conditions
- Treatment options such as minoxidil, topical steroids and immunotherapy may be effective
- May cause depression and anxiety in some individuals due to the drastic change in appearance.
2. Pattern Baldness (Androgenic Alopecia)
Pattern baldness is a common form of hair loss that is caused by genetics and hormones. It usually affects the scalp, but can also occur on other parts of the body as well. It is typically characterized by thinning hair along the top or sides of the head, as well as a receding hairline.
Here are a few other related features:
- Typically results in a receding hairline, thinning of the crown, or bald spot on top of the head
- Mostly caused by genetics and hormones
- Can affect both men and women
- May be treated with minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia)
- Hair loss may cause feelings of low self-esteem and depression.
3. Telogen Effluvium (TE)
Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss caused by stress or trauma to the body, such as childbirth, surgery, medications, or illness. It occurs two to three months after the triggering event and results in diffuse shedding of the scalp hair.
Here are a few other related features:
- Typically manifests 2-3 months after the triggering event
- Causes diffuse shedding of scalp hair and thinning of hair all over the head
- Can be caused by physical or emotional stress, medications, illnesses or surgeries
- Treatments include lifestyle changes to reduce stress and improve diet
- May cause feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.
8 Main Effects of Stress on Hair Fall
Stress is an unavoidable part of life and can have a significant impact on our physical and mental health. Stress can manifest itself in many ways, including hair loss.
There are eight main roles that stress plays in hair fall, ranging from hormone production to scalp damage. Understanding the effects of stress on your hair can help you take steps to prevent and manage it.
- Hormonal Imbalances: Stress can cause an increase in cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone, which can disrupt the normal balance of hormones that control hair growth and lead to hair loss.
- Hair Follicle Sensitivity: Stress can weaken the immune system and make it more difficult for hair follicles to resist environmental stresses. This can lead to hair loss.
- Poor Diet: Stress can cause individuals to make poor dietary choices, which can affect the health of the scalp and hair follicles.
- Hair Pulling: Individuals may engage in compulsive behaviors such as trichotillomania, where they pull out their own hair due to stress or anxiety.
- Alopecia Areata: Stress has been linked to this autoimmune condition, which can lead to patchy or total hair loss on the scalp and other body parts.
- Telogen Effluvium: Stress can lead to this type of hair loss, which is characterized by the sudden shedding of scalp hair.
- Androgenic Alopecia: Stress can increase the production or activity of hormones that play a role in male and female pattern baldness.
- Psychological Effects: Stress can result in psychological effects such as anxiety and depression, which can further exacerbate the symptoms of hair loss.
6 Main Effects of Birth Control Pills on Hair Loss
Birth Control Pills (BCP) are a popular form of contraception and can provide many health benefits. However, it is important to note that they can also cause certain side effects, such as hair loss.
There are six main roles that BCPs can play in hair fall, ranging from hormone production to scalp damage. Recognizing the effects of birth control pills on your hair can assist you to take coping strategies.
- Increase in Androgens: Birth control pills can cause an increase of androgens, the male hormones that are associated with male pattern baldness.
- Decrease in Estrogen: Birth control pills can also decrease the amount of estrogen in the body, leading to a disruption of normal hair growth cycles.
- Imbalance of Hormones: Birth control pills can create hormonal imbalances, leading to changes in the normal cycle of hair growth and shedding.
- Genetics: Women with a family history of female pattern baldness have an increased risk of developing hair loss due to birth control pill use.
- Excess Hair Shedding: Birth control pills can lead to excessive shedding of hair, leading to noticeable thinning or bald spots on the scalp.
- Changes in Libido: Some birth control pills may lead to changes in libido and reduced sexual desire, further exacerbating feelings of low self-esteem associated with hair loss.
12 Other Potential Causes of Hair Loss
Hair loss can be a source of distress for many people. While stress, genetics and birth control pills are common causes of hair fall, there are several other potential triggers that could be causing your hair to thin or fall out. Here are twelve other possible underlying causes of hair loss:
- Anaemia: Iron deficiency can lead to excessive shedding of hair.
- Thyroid Problems: Imbalances in thyroid hormones can cause thinning of the hair on the scalp.
- Autoimmune Disorders: Conditions such as lupus, alopecia areata, and lichen planus can lead to patchy or total hair loss.
- High Fever: A fever of over 102°F (38.9°C) can cause temporary shedding of the scalp hair.
- Nutritional Deficiencies: Low levels of certain vitamins and minerals, such as iron, zinc, biotin and vitamin C, can lead to hair loss.
- Ringworm: A fungal infection of the scalp that can cause patchy hair loss.
- Scalp Infections: Bacterial or viral infections of the scalp can lead to diffuse shedding of hair all over the head.
- Hair Styling: Traction alopecia is a type of hair loss caused by constant pulling, tugging and styling of the hair.
- Medications: Certain medications, such as those used for treating depression, anxiety and high blood pressure, may cause hair loss as a side effect.
- Ageing: As we age, the rate of shedding may increase due to changes in our hormones and scalp.
- Cancer Treatments: Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other cancer treatments can cause temporary or permanent hair loss.
- Trichotillomania: This is a compulsive disorder where individuals pull out their own hair due to psychological distress.
6 Major Reasons for Hair Loss in Post-Natal Depression
Postpartum depression is a common condition that affects many women after childbirth. Hair loss can be an additional symptom of this disorder, causing further distress for the mother. Here are some potential causes of hair loss associated with postpartum depression:
- Stress: Postnatal depression is often accompanied by feelings of stress or anxiety, which can lead to telogen effluvium.
- Hormonal Imbalances: Changes in the levels of hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, may cause hair loss.
- Nutritional Deficiencies: Low levels of certain vitamins and minerals, such as iron, zinc, biotin and vitamin C, can lead to hair loss.
- Genetics: Women who have a family history of female pattern baldness are more likely to experience hair loss during postnatal depression.
- Medications: Certain medications used to treat postnatal depression, such as antidepressants, can cause temporary or permanent hair loss.
- Sleep Deprivation: Not getting adequate sleep can lead to the disruption of normal hair growth cycles.
Can Hair Loss From Depression Grow Back?
Yes, hair loss from depression can grow back. With treatment of underlying mental health issues, reduction of stress, and adequate nutrition and sleep, the normal hair growth cycle should return to balance.
However, it is important to note that for some individuals with genetic predispositions or those who have suffered prolonged or severe bouts of depression, there may be permanent or irreversible hair loss. Therefore, it is important to seek professional help if you are experiencing depression and its related symptoms such as hair loss.
10 Complications When to See a Doctor For Hair Loss With Depression
Hair loss is a common symptom of depression and can be a sign that professional help is needed. However, there are certain instances where it is particularly important to see a doctor for hair loss with depression. Here are 10 complications in which medical advice should be sought:
- Rapid, patchy hair loss: If you experience sudden or rapid hair loss all over your scalp, it is important to seek medical advice.
- Severe itching or burning: These symptoms could indicate a skin disorder such as seborrheic dermatitis which can be treated.
- Hair pulling: If an individual has a compulsive disorder such as trichotillomania and is causing harm to their own scalp, professional help should be sought immediately.
- Bald spots or thinning of hair on the scalp: These could indicate traction alopecia due to styling habits and should be evaluated.
- Scaling or flaking of the scalp: These could signal a fungal or bacterial infection, and medical attention is recommended.
- Small, round bald patches: This symptom is associated with alopecia areata which can be treated through immunotherapy.
- Blistering lesions on the scalp: These could be a sign of a serious skin disorder and should be checked by a doctor.
- Inability to regrow hair after chemotherapy or radiation therapy: If you have undergone treatment for cancer, it is important to discuss any permanent hair loss with your doctor.
- Recurring bald patches that don’t respond to treatment: This could be a sign of an underlying autoimmune disorder and should be evaluated by a doctor.
- Negative impact on daily life: If your hair loss is causing you distress and affecting your quality of life, it is important to seek professional advice.
5 Effective Treatments For Depression Due to Hair Loss
Hair loss due to depression can be a difficult situation to cope with and can have a significant impact on quality of life. Fortunately, there are treatments available that can help alleviate symptoms of hair loss as well as improve mental health. Here are 5 treatments for depression due to hair loss:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): A form of psychotherapy that is used to identify and change negative patterns of thinking and behavior.
- Medication: Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and other drugs may be prescribed depending on the individual’s needs.
- Light Therapy: Exposure to bright light for a certain amount of time every day helps reduce symptoms of depression for some people.
- Exercise: Physical activity releases feel-good hormones, reduces stress, and is an effective way to treat mild to moderate depression.
- Nutritional Changes: Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help boost energy levels and improve mood. It is also important to get adequate amounts of sleep and practice stress-reduction techniques such as meditation or yoga.
5 Productive Ways to Finding Support System for Hair Loss Due to Depression
Hair loss due to depression can be a difficult situation to cope with, and it is important to have a support system in place. Finding the right people to talk to can make a big difference when dealing with this condition. Here are 5 ways to find support for hair loss due to depression:
- Online support groups: There are many online communities for people suffering from hair loss due to depression. These can be a great source of comfort and support, as well as practical advice.
- Developing your own support network: Talk to friends and family about your feelings and find people who you can rely on for emotional support.
- Seeking professional help: A mental health professional can provide guidance, advice and treatment for depression-related hair loss.
- Joining local support groups: Attending a group session with others in the same situation can be beneficial. It is also an opportunity to receive feedback and support from peers.
- Seeking social support: Building meaningful relationships with people can help you feel less isolated, as well as provide emotional comfort in tough times.
After diving into the evidence and learning more about the correlation between depression and hair loss, it’s clear that a person’s mental state can have a huge impact on their physical health. While more research is needed to fully understand the mechanics behind this connection, overall it is safe to assume that hair loss – whether temporary or permanent – can signify underlying issues like depression.
It’s important to be aware of the danger signs associated with such a condition, such as a difficulty concentrating, decreased energy levels, and changes in sleeping patterns. If you or someone you know is struggling with any of these signs, seeking professional help from a psychiatrist or psychologist should be your top priority.
Ultimately finding ways to reduce stress and get appropriate support could go a long way towards helping one manage their depression before it leads to hair loss – and possibly other adverse consequences for their overall health.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does depression make your hair fall out?
Depression can cause a number of physical and psychological symptoms, one of which is hair loss. This is due to the high levels of stress hormones that are released when someone experiences depression. These hormones interfere with the normal function of the hair follicles, leading to hair thinning or shedding.
How do you deal with depression and hair loss?
1. Seek professional help: A mental health professional can provide guidance, advice and treatment for depression-related hair loss.
2. Develop a support system: Talk to friends and family about your feelings and find people who you can rely on for emotional support.
3. Try light therapy: Exposure to bright light for a certain amount of time every day helps reduce symptoms of depression for some people.
4. Exercise: Physical activity releases feel-good hormones, reduces stress, and is an effective way to treat mild to moderate depression.
5. Make dietary changes: Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help boost energy levels and improve mood.
How do I quit losing hair?
1. Seek medical advice: Consult a doctor to determine the underlying cause of hair loss and discuss potential solutions.
2. Try medications: Depending on the cause, doctors may prescribe medications such as minoxidil or finasteride to help regrow hair.
3. Make lifestyle changes: Eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly and reducing stress can help reduce or prevent hair loss.
4. Wear protective hairstyles: Protective styles such as braids, twists, and buns can help protect the ends of your hair from breakage and minimize shedding.
5. Use natural remedies: Some herbs such as rosemary and horsetail have been used to help promote hair growth. Natural oils such as coconut and olive oil can also be used to nourish the scalp and encourage new hair growth.
Should I cut my hair if it’s falling out?
The decision to cut your hair should be based on the amount of hair loss, as well as personal preference. If your hair is thinning only slightly, you may opt to keep it at its current length and style.
However, if the hair loss is more severe or progressing rapidly, you may want to consider cutting it shorter in order to reduce the appearance of thinning.
Trimming your hair frequently can also help keep split ends at bay and prevent further damage. Talk to a stylist for advice on the best style and length for your individual situation.
Which vitamin is for hair fall?
The most important vitamins for healthy hair growth are B vitamins, including biotin (B7), niacin (B3) and pantothenic acid (B5). Additionally, Vitamin A helps to produce sebum which keeps the scalp moisturized and can help reduce hair loss.
Vitamin C is important for collagen production and helps to keep hair follicles healthy. Vitamin E may help reduce oxidative stress which can lead to thinning of the hair, while zinc helps to regulate hormone levels which are important for maintaining healthy hair.
Finally, iron is essential for carrying oxygen throughout the body and helps support the scalp’s healthy blood flow.
Which food is good for hair thickness?
1. Protein: Eating foods with high amounts of protein such as fish, eggs, and legumes is essential for strong, healthy hair.
2. Omega-3 fatty acids: Foods like salmon and other oily fish, walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which can help nourish the scalp and promote hair growth.
3. Iron: Eating foods such as lean red meat, spinach, lentils and almonds can help boost iron levels in the body which is important for healthy hair growth.
4. Vitamin C: Foods like oranges, kiwi fruit, bell peppers and broccoli are packed with vitamin C which helps the body absorb iron and promote healthy hair growth.
5. Zinc: Foods such as oysters, crab, lobster and pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, a mineral that is important for keeping hair strong and healthy.
What foods moisturize hair?
1. Avocados: Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats and vitamins A, D, E, and K which help to nourish the scalp and strands of hair for a deep conditioning treatment.
2. Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is an incredibly versatile oil that can easily be used as a natural conditioner to moisturize dry, brittle hair.
3. Mayonnaise: Mayonnaise is made with a combination of egg yolks, oil and vinegar which makes it an excellent deep conditioning treatment for the hair.
4. Yogurt: The fatty acids in yoghurt help seal in moisture and keep strands soft and silky.
5. Honey: The naturally occurring enzymes in honey help to draw moisture into the hair strands and keep them hydrated.
6. Olive Oil: Olive oil is an excellent choice for moisturizing dry, damaged hair as it helps to seal in moisture and protect from breakage.
7. Aloe Vera: Aloe vera is a natural moisturizer that helps to hydrate and nourish the scalp while providing protection from the sun’s UV rays.
8. Eggs: The combination of fatty acids and protein in egg yolks helps to condition and nourish the hair follicles.
Juliano Vilaverde Schmitt (June 2012). Hair loss perception and symptoms of depression in female outpatients attending a general dermatology clinic. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22714757/
Y. Rajoo ( July 3, 2019). The relationship between physical activity levels and symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress in individuals with alopecia Areata. https://bmcpsychology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40359-019-0324-x
Rim Sellami (July-August, 2014). The Relationship Between Alopecia Areata and Alexithymia, Anxiety and Depression: A Case-Control Study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103292/