The Link Between Mental Health & Hair Loss

There are many different causes of hair loss. Genetic factors and predisposition, deficiencies in various minerals or vitamins, skin problems, other hair growth disorders, diet, hormone issues, internal disease, drug use, childbirth, cosmetic factors, chemotherapy, and stress and depression are some of the many varied ways one can experience hair loss.

 

Of course, not only can stress and depression be a source of hair loss, but hair loss itself can be a source of your stress and depression. While most hair loss due to stress can be recovered once the stressors are removed… you can see how easy it is to get stuck in a downward cycle.

Can Your Mental Health Affect Your Hair?

There are several types of hair loss associated with high levels of stress. When significant stress levels push hair follicles into a resting phase, it is called telogen effluvium.

 

There is a condition called trichotillomania where people react to uncomfortable feelings like stress, loneliness, frustration, and tension by pulling at their hair. This can be pulling hair from the scalp, eyebrows, or other areas of the body – enough to create bald patches. Trichotillomania is temporary to start but, if it continues over a prolonged period of time, hair follicles can be damaged.

 

One possible cause of alopecia areata is severe stress. Alopecia areata is a condition where the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles.

Does Hair Loss Affect Mental Health?

Experiencing sudden hair loss can certainly affect a person’s mental health. Losing hair can be tied to self-esteem and lead to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness, and depression.

 

It can be difficult to adjust to the changes our body goes through… and it can be a challenge to maintain one’s emotional wellness. Physical appearance changes (such as hair loss) can even contribute to bodily dysmorphic disorder – which is when one's appearance causes intense shame, anxiety, and/or emotional stress.

Can Depression Mess With Your Hair?

The stress associated with depression can disrupt the normal hair growth cycle – though the exact reasons why are not well understood – and lead to an increase in shedding. Additionally, individuals with depression and hair loss may neglect self-care practices (such as proper nutrition and hair care) which can indirectly impact the health of their hair. Depression hair loss may be counteracted through therapy, medication, or removing stressors.

Can Stress and Anxiety Damage Your Hair?

In addition to trichotillomania, other conditions like anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and bipolar disorder may also experience hair loss. Unfortunately, even the treatments for some of these conditions can impact hair health and may lead to hair loss. Medications that include beta-blockers, certain antidepressants, and some mood stabilizers.

 

Related to anxiety and hair loss, a recent Harvard study discovered that stress activates the sympathetic nervous system which depletes the melanocyte cells that regenerate hair pigment. This can lead to premature hair graying.

How Female Hair Loss Affects Mental Health?

Women face more societal pressure than men to look a certain way – especially with their hair. Therefore, emotional causes of hair loss will tend to have a more negative effect on them.

 

Hair has a cultural emphasis for women as a symbol of femininity and its loss may increase feelings of self-consciousness and lower self-esteem. As a result, women experiencing mental health related hair loss may be grappling with body image issues and emotional distress.

Contact the Experts At HairMD

As experts in hair restoration for more than 30 years, we have performed tens of thousands of hair restoration procedures. Once the reason for the hair loss has been identified, a specifically targeted treatment plan can be developed – completely customized for your specific case. Request a consultation today.

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