Hair loss is, without doubt, a very important topic to discuss, and yes, a lot of information is available on it. Tons of information is available about hair loss and its causes. However, only a few have given attention to how our mental state contributes to our hair loss.
Mental health can manifest in several phases, but the most common that relates to hair loss is depression and stress. But for this article, we will focus on depression. This is because depression alone cannot impact our hair outside the supporting impact of the stress and anxiety it comes with.
Depression can lead to hair loss due to the stress and anxiety it might bring. Anxiety and stress cause the body to go into what is known as the “fight or flight reaction,” in which the release of adrenaline and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) hormones is enhanced in response to whatever the body perceives as a threat. As a result of changes in your hormone levels, you may notice an unpleasant effect on the growth patterns of your scalp hair follicles.
If you’ve experienced hair loss as a symptom of depression, you may have contemplated if it’s a symptom of an underlining health problem or just a side effect. We’ll help give clarity to that in this article.
The role stress plays
It’s well established that stress can lead to hair thinning. Three forms of hair loss can be caused by stress:
- Telogen effluvium
- Alopecia areata
The growth of hair follicles is divided into three stages. First is the anagen phase, which is when new hairs emerge. Next is the period of transition, or catagen phase. And lastly, the hair rests during the telogen stage. Hair loss falls under this last phase.
At the Anagen phases, hair follicles get abundant. However, many hair follicles might enter the telogen phase of hair growth as a result of a strong shock or stress. Telogen effluvium is the medical term for this.
As you comb, style, and wash your hair, impacted hair follicles will fall out within three months following the stressful event. Also, a good percentage of depressed men get telogen effluvium due to stress. Stress, surgery, a high temperature, and some medications can also induce anemia.
There is an impulse control problem known as Trichotillomania, in which you have a want to pluck the hair out of your head, eyebrows, eyelashes, and other parts of your body.
Boredom, irritation, loneliness, and stress are just a few of the things that can set it off. As a result, you’re unable to resist the impulse to rip out your own hair because you’re stressed.
Its body assaults your own hair follicles when you have Alopecia areata, which is an immunological disorder. Your body’s immune system malfunctions when you suffer from an autoimmune condition. A variety of symptoms and diseases can result from the body attacking its own tissue.
Alopecia areata is characterized by hair loss in quarter-sized patches, leaving the scalp smooth and barren. Without any therapy, these patches will grow back within three to six months. Occasionally, the hair returns to its original color.
Alopecia areata, an autoimmune illness, can be caused by stress. An autoimmune disease flare-up can also be triggered by stress.
There’s a difference between depression and stress, of course. However, stress can play a role in the development of depression. The stress of unexpected life transitions and long-term difficulties can be exacerbated.
Possible triggers to depression
- Loss of income
- Bereavement of a close family member or friend,
- Work-related stress etc.
Symptoms to look out for
Loos hair caused by depression is often temporary and almost unnoticeable. However, if not treated, it may become more menacing. Look out for the following signs at all times;
- Gradual recession of the hairline
- Bald spot
- Ponytail with fewer hairs than usual
- Hair loss at the eyebrow, beards, and nose
Managing hair loss caused by depression
Fortunately, there are several things you may do to alleviate the psychological impacts of hair loss and thinning. To name a few, here are a few examples:
Visit your doctor
Mental health disorders like stress are known to cause hair loss occasionally, but it is also critical to rule out any physical health conditions that may be causing excessive shedding. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, hair loss can be caused by various factors, including thyroid problems, vitamin deficiencies, sexually transmitted diseases, and psoriasis on the scalp.
Hair growth can be hindered by causes, some of which are discussed above. If any, talk to your doctor about other abnormal symptoms in your body. It may be more than hair loss due to stress or depression. It could be genetic or even as a sign of other underlining ailments.
Consult a professional hairstylist
Many hairstylists specialize in working with customers who want to hide the effects of hair loss. In addition to recommending items that may provide the appearance of a thicker head of hair, a professional stylist may help you conceal thinning or receding hairlines.
Talk to a mental expert
If your self-esteem or self-worth is being negatively affected by hair loss, you may want to consult a mental health professional. Your therapist should be non-judgmental and supportive as you work through your feelings about hair loss. A therapist can also assist you in dealing with stress or worry if it appears to be the cause of your hair loss.
Take note of the follow
Depression as a direct cause of hair loss has yet to be proven by research. That being said, the effects of sadness, stress, and other mental health issues can extend beyond the individual’s immediate well-being. Hair thinning is thought by many specialists to be related to depressive symptoms and emotional stress.
Hair loss caused by stress is usually temporary. Therefore, seeking therapy for depression can help with hair health and development and overall well-being, and better mental health.