Depression and anxiety are hair killers! They affect our physical and psychological state, and often manifest themselves in hair loss. A significant loss of hair, often times, is directly related to overwork, stress, lack of sleep, a marriage breakup, drugs and poor health.
But it is your hair. You can take steps to overcome these hair killers but you must understand the impact that hair loss is having on you and take steps to mitigate it. It is up to you to either save your hair or embrace the loss and become beautifully bald!
Psychological states of depression, such as low mood and self-esteem, being pessimistic, feeling drained of energy, being continually discouraged, and believing life is futile, can result in the rapid death of hair.
Anxiety and hair loss have a complex relationship. If you’re living in constant fear of losing your hair, you may actually be contributing to your own hair loss. This fear can create such anxiety and stress that your hair literally falls out.
Anxiety Hair Loss Conditions
The key issue combining anxiety and hair loss is stress. Anxiety can create long-term and persistent stress, which places a person under continual severe mental and physical duress.
Anxiety/Stress Conditions That Lead To Hair Loss
- Telogen effluvium – This condition is a common cause of temporary hair loss. More hairs than normal prepare to fall out. Anxiety/stress can direct the follicles into a resting phase, and they don’t produce new hair strands. Over time, hair falls out more easily, even if you’re just washing, combing or brushing as you usually do. Also, this condition can be caused by poor nutrition and changes in hormone levels.
- Trichotillomania – This condition becomes real as a person literally pulls out his hair when anxious, stressed or tense. This psychological condition materializes when a person deals with negative emotions by pulling out hair from his scalp, face and other parts of the body. Hair pulling can be a way of dealing with negative or uncomfortable feelings, such as stress, tension, loneliness, boredom or frustration. It’s most commonly seen in teenage girls.
- Alopecia areata – When your body’s immune system attacks your hair follicles, it can provoke your hair to fall out. It can cause the hair to thin or create bald spots as well. Hair can regrow over time, but possibly fall out again. Genetics may play a role, but there is no exact conclusion. It might be time to think about shaving your head.
Doctors say it’s highly likely that persons with mild hair loss caused by anxiety are suffering from telogen effluvium. If anxiety and stress are brought under control, then your hair can rebound.
Depression And Hair Loss
Depression places a great deal of strain on the body as well as on the mind, and many people experience, aches, pains and extreme fatigue. Some of these mental health conditions can cause thinning or unhealthy hair that forms a cycle of self-esteem damage, from which it is difficult to come back.
Depression And Negative Effects On Mood
- People with thinning hair may feel less physical attractive.
- They believe they are less sexually attractive.
- Some experience damage to their self-esteem.
- They think the body’s aging process marches on with no alternative.
For low mood to cross the threshold into depression, sufferers must experience it for several weeks. Also, they may feel tired and fed-up, are pessimistic about the future, and in some cases experience thoughts of death or suicide.
Can depression cause hair loss? Sure! Hair loss can be a factor in these symptoms. It can give some people suffering from depression, a focus for their negative feelings. They believe hair loss is the heart of the problem.
Anti-depressants And Hair Loss
Most people diagnosed with clinical depression are prescribed a combination of medication and therapy. Unfortunately, some of these medicines cause hair loss. It’s common for patients taking Prozac to experience hair loss. Also, a small percentage of people taking Lithium, prescribed as treatment for Bipolar Disorder, experience hair loss.
Depression Causes Lifestyle Changes
Those suffering from depression often unknowingly change their diets. They eat more unhealthy foods or lose their appetites entirely. This deprives the body, and hair in particular, of essential nutrients needed to stay healthy. Not only do you lose or gain weight, but hair can thin dramatically or fall out.
Anxiety Attacks And Hair Loss
Can anxiety cause hair loss? You had better believe it! An anxiety attack is an intense fear that includes strong symptoms, such as palpitations, pounding and racing heart, sweating, trembling and feeling that one’s life is out of control. When these anxiety or panic attacks occur often, hair loss quite regularly follows.
What Do Anxiety Attack Symptoms Feel Like
- A feeling of overwhelming fear
- Feeling that you’re going crazy or losing control
- Heart palpitations
- Believing you are in great danger
- Thinking you might pass out
- An urgency to escape
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pressure or pain
- Turning pale
- Feeling detached from reality
- Weak in the knees
- Burning skin
- Hot and cold flashes
- Numbness and tingling sensations
- Feeling Shaky
- A surge of doom and gloom
Hair loss can follow an escalation of anxiety sensations and symptoms. Thinning or balding will range in intensity with different individuals, but many have the same fears brought on by anxiety. Approximately one-third of individuals who struggle with anxiety, experience hair loss, thinning and balding.
Common Anxiety Related Hair Loss Descriptions
- My hair is thinning
- I’ve noticed that my hair is falling out in clumps
- I’m getting bald spots
- My hair is rapidly thinning and falling out
- I think I’m going bald
- I’m losing hair on my head and on other parts of my body
- There’s a lot more hair in my brush
- I believe my anxiety is making me bald
- I’m pulling out clumps of hair at a time
Simple Tips To Help Stop And Prevent Anxiety Attacks
The escalation of fear about having another anxiety attack is often the catalyst that brings on more attacks. Here’s some recommendations to help calm sufferers and assist them in preventing anxiety attacks that lead to hair loss.
- Relax your body as much as you can.
- Calm yourself down. This will bring an end to the anxiety attack in time.
- Go for a walk. Leisure walking often will cut back the anxiety.
- In and of themselves, anxiety attacks aren’t harmful. They are merely strong reactions to chronic stress, fear and worry.
- Remember, these attacks always end. The faster you calm yourself, the quicker they’ll end.
- Reduce stress, increase rest and give your body time to calm down.
- The more relaxed you are, the less likely of a repeat attack.
- Stop scaring yourself with worry. Worry is the number one cause of anxiety attacks.
- Keep your stress in a normal range to prevent more involuntary attacks.
- Reduce your sensitivity and reactivity to imagined dangers.
Millennials Are Losing Their Hair Earlier
Stress, Diet And Improper Hair Treatment Are Culprits
Although losing hair generally is associated with older Americans, an increasing number of millennials are experiencing hair loss, and accompanying anxiety and depression.
Dr. Andrea Hui, a San Francisco dermatologist, said both men and women as young as 18 have been coming to her for help in combating hair loss. Here are some of the common causes:
There is a growing popularity in vegetarian and vegan diets among millennials which contributes to their hair loss.
Research conducted at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas last year indicated that severely reduced protein consumption as well as deficiencies in zinc, vitamin D and other nutrients can cause hair loss and balding.
Dr. Doris Day, MD, of Day Dermatology & Aesthetics, believes that “stress is a significant factor causing millennial hair loss. Stress can interrupt the hair growth process by moving hairs out of the growth phase prematurely.”
The lifecycle of hair is hair growth followed by a brief period when it stops growing and the final phase when it falls out. This is a continuing process on the head. It’s normal for a person to shed between 50 and 100 hairs every day.
Millennials, in a recent study, said they feel isolated or lonely due to stress, and they have fewer close friends with which to relax, discuss personal matters or call on for help. They also appear to have more difficulty coping with everyday problems.
Millennials are constantly using IPhones and IPads to access the latest hair styling fads. This huge focus placed on appearance and continual exposure to celebrities and their hair styles, has created some rough hair experiments.
Stress caused by vigorous over-styling and questionable hair coloring puts the hair under constant strain, and can negatively affect the hair follicles to the point that these hairs may never grow back.
Overcoming Anxiety And Depression When Losing Your Hair
Potential Ways To Cope
Maybe you’re stuck in a job you hate. Or, you’re overwhelmed by emotional events, such as a divorce, death in the family, or a wayward child who is now a juvenile delinquent. These catastrophic life-enduring events can easily cause severe anxiety and depression. And, that’s when you notice substantial hair loss, a bonus you can do without. Following are tips to counteract anxiety and depression and hopefully trigger hair improvement.
- Learn and practice relaxation techniques regularly, such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga.
- Get regular exercise, which helps to manage anxiety and its effects.
- Spend time with positive people. Don’t isolate yourself, which makes anxiety and depression worse.
- Eat a healthy diet and take multivitamins and other supplements as prescribed by your doctor.
- Treat your hair with care when washing, drying and styling.
- Think about if you would look bald. Try it for a period of time before you stabilize your hair and it grows back.
Hair loss can come on suddenly due to severe anxiety and depression, but there are ways to address preventable types of hair loss.
- Avoid compulsively rubbing, twisting and pulling your hair.
- Using a wide-toothed comb that can reduce the risk of pulling hair out. Gently wash and brush.
- Protect your hair from sunlight and other sources of ultraviolet light.
- Stop smoking. Recent studies have indicated an association between smoking and baldness in men.
- Avoid tight hairstyles, such as braids, buns and ponytails.
- Stop using medications and supplements that can cause hair loss. Ask your doctor if there are alternatives to medications he is prescribing.
- If you are undergoing chemotherapy, ask your doctor about using a cooling cap, which can reduce hair loss.
Women’s Hair Loss Can Cause Anxiety And Depression
It May Be More Than Just A Bad Hair Day
Let’s face it. In mixed company, the subject of women’s hair loss rarely is discussed. But, it’s out there, big time. And, it can manifest itself in severe anxiety and depression for the ladies.
An article in Women’s Health pointed out a wide variety of issues that are causing women’s hair to thin and fall out, and ways to counteract it.
- Lack of Nutrients – Hair thrives on a diet that’s rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Your hair will feel real damaging effects without these nutrients.
- Vitamin C – It aids in the synthesis of collagen, a structural fiber that hair follicles need for growth. Your hair can become dry and brittle without the proper amount of collagen.
- Protein – It powers growth in hair cells, but an absence of proper amounts of protein will result in less new hair growth.
- Iron – It helps red-blood cells to carry oxygen. Once your iron levels are low, you can become anemic, and your cells struggle to function, causing the loss of hair.
- Zinc – It’s important for tissue growth and repair. Zinc keeps oil glands around the hair follicles in good working order. However, if Zinc intake is low, you will experience slow hair growth and dandruff in addition to hair loss.
Begin eating foods that contain these vital nutrients in order to keep your hair from starving. Vitamin C can be found in ample supply in oranges, mangos, cauliflower and tomatoes. Good sources of protein include meats, eggs, fish, yogurt and beans.
Whole-grain cereals and dark green, leafy vegetables are a great source of iron. And, zinc-rich foods include nuts, chickpeas and sweet potatoes.
- Crash Diets and Weight Loss – All of these marvelous diets that are being advertised can cause severe hair loss. They’re a shock to the system and often result in extensive hair problems. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are also major factors. Make sure that you haven’t cut out some of these nutrients (listed above) if you decide to spend your time and energy on a crash diet.
- Over-styling – Vigorous over-styling and hair coloring on a regular basis, creates hair fall out that you hoped you’d never see. And, gradual hair fall out can be caused by hairstyles that pull your hair too tight. Your hair is put under constant strain from braids, cornrows, pig tails and weaves, as well as hot-oil treatments and chemical relaxers. Hair under constant strain can affect the hair follicles to a point that much of the hair will never grow back.Scalp massages help with hair regrowth. Olive oil, castor oil and unrefined coconut oil make for terrific massage agents.
- Medications – Certain medications are toxic to hair follicles, and lead to the disruption of the normal hair cycle. The most common hair-loss inducing medications are anti-coagulants (blood thinners) and blood pressure drugs. And, exceptionally large doses of Vitamin A create hair loss.Talk to your doctor about prescribing a different medicine or lowering your current dosage. An alternative treatment plan may also aid in minimizing the problem.
- Hair Pulling – Trichotillomania is a mental problem that causes women to compulsively pull out their hair from the scalp, eyebrows and other portions of the body. Unfortunately, it’s most frequently seen in women. Repeated pulling of the hair can severely damage hair follicles, resulting in bald patches and near permanent hair loss. A treatment is called habit reversal training that enables a woman to substitute other behavior, such as fist clenching for the urge to pull hair.
- Aging – Once a woman reaches 40, her hair isn’t as bouncy and full anymore. The body begins to lose the ability to quickly renew and regenerate cells. The results are thinning hair, hair loss and greying.Menopause created hormonal changes. There’s a decrease in estrogen and progesterone. At the same time, it increases the production of androgen, a group of male hormones, which shrink hair follicles, and create hair loss.Eating a balanced diet of lean protein, vitamins and minerals will help. Also consider using moisturizing products that contain Argan oil or hazelnut oil to nourish the hair.
Conclusion – Overcoming Anxiety And Depression When Losing Your Hair Are Achievable Goals
The combination of good self-help information (in this blog) and working with an experienced anxiety therapist are the most effective ways of addressing anxiety disorders. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed, the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior, can return again and again. And, your hair can continue to fall out.
Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety’s underlying factors is paramount, if problematic anxiety is to be conquered. Anxiety attacks can be powerful and overwhelming, but there’s self-help available (in this article) and professional therapists are ready to help.
Continual anxiety can lead to severe stress, which in many cases culminates in depression. When you are constantly depressed; feeling tired and fed-up, pessimistic about the future and possibly experiencing thoughts of death or suicide, you’ve reached bottom. And, your hair is falling out, which makes you feel even worse.
The first step to psychological recovery is getting help from a medical doctor. Find the courage to seek help from a medical expert. Again, identifying the underlying factors is the beginning. Then, the dark cloud of depression can dissipate. And, you can also focus on winning back your hair. We’ve outlined many ways (in this blog).