Recently I received several emails from HairBoutique.com visitors asking how depression might be linked to hair loss or other hair concerns such as slowed growth, change in texture or other factors.
Good question. Can depression cause hair loss? Or does hair loss occur as a side effect to the drugs that may be prescribed for treating depression? Which comes first depression or hair loss?
Before I answer these questions it's important to provide an overview of what depression is.
What Is Depression
According to Wikipedia a person suffering a major depressive mood usually experiences a pervasive low mood or lost of interest or pleasure in favored activities. Depression has been equated to that of chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
Depression can have physical causes, psychological causes or a combination of both.
As a general rule depressed people may be preoccupied with, or repeatedly mull over thoughts of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt or regret and have feelings of helplessness or hopelessness.
Symptoms Of Depression
Other symptoms may include poor concentration and memory, withdrawal from social situations, reduced sex drive and thoughts of death or suicide. Insomnia is common as is hypersomnia or oversleeping. Appetite may decrease with resulting weight loss but on the flip side there can be increased appetite and weight gain.
Physical symptoms might include fatigue, headaches or digestive problems. Family and friends may perceive the depressed person as agitated or slowed down. Older people may be more forgetful. In severe cases depression may show up as delusions or hallucinations.
Physical & Psychological Causes Of Depression
Experts link the causes of depression to both physical and psychological causes. In some cases doctors believe depression is related to a specific physical cause such as an overactive hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis known as the HPA axis.
There are also some indications that estrogen can play a part in depressive disorders especially after puberty, after giving birth and after menopause.
Premenstrual and postpartum periods of low estrogen levels are also linked to possible physical depression. At this point estrogen is still being researched as a possible factor and/or treatment.
Deficiencies in Essential Dietary Nutrients
Some naturopathic physicans believe that deficiencies in certain essential dietary nutrients, specifically vitamin B12 and folic acid have been associated with depression. Other missing nutrients related to depression include copper and magnesium as well as Vitamin A.
Although it is not always clear cut which factors cause depression, psychological causes are linked to various aspects of personality and its development. Psychological depression is often linked with adverse lifetime events and lifetime stress. Recent research emphasizes the importance of alterations in responses to stress in the etiology of depression.
For older adults, the factors are often health problems, changes in relationships with a spouse or adult children due to the transition to a care-giving or care-needing role, the death of a significant other, or a change in the availability or quality of social relationships with older friends because of their own health-related life changes.
Depression Related Hair Loss
Is there a link between depression and hair loss?
Without even looking at the medications which are prescribed for depression and the possibility of hair loss related side effects, it's clear to see that both physical and psychological forms of depression could possibly be linked to hair loss and/or other hair changes even without prescribed depression medications.
Depression Related Weight Loss & Hair Loss
If someone who is depressed has lost interest in food and have suddenly started losing weight, they may be inadvertently triggering a type of hair loss known as Telogen Effluvium which may result from not taking in enough daily calories to sustain healthy hair maintenance and growth.
Telogen Effluvium is a recognized form of hair loss which often occurs when people cut back on daily required calories and is often found in those with eating disorders such as anorexia or related food restriction plans. Telogen Effluvium is considered a temporary hair loss issue but definitely is linked to loss of appetite or food restricting, which can be a key symptom with depression.
Improper Sleep, Hormonal Balance, Thyroid Issues & Dehydration
Other known factors that contribute to sudden hair loss include lack of proper sleep, hormonal imbalances, thyroid related challenges and dehydration.
If someone suffering from either type of depression (physical or psychological) has chronic insomnia or is deficient in some of the B vitamins, specifically B12, they will most likely notice hair related changed ranging from sudden loss to dryness or changes in manageability.
Copper, magnesium and Vitamin A are well-known nutrients necessary for healthy and optimal hair growth and maintenance. When they are deficient in the body, the hair may react by thinning, falling out or other related symptoms.
In fact, the HairTopia healthy hair system of nutrients was specifically designed to include B vitamins, copper, magnesium and Vitamin A because of their known importance to the development, growth and maintenance of healthy hair for all ages, races and sex. In fact, the HairTopia Total System specifically contains copper due to its importance in maintaining strong strands.
Regardless whether depression is physical or psychologically triggered, if any of the common physical symptoms listed above are manifested there is a strong possibility that hair loss or hair challenges may arise as a side symptom of the disease.
Of course depression should always be treated by the proper medial experts who can evaluate your symptoms and recommend appropriate courses of action.
Do depression medications cause hair loss? Can losing hair cause depression? Those are both very good questions that I will address in future articles or blogs.
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