Good hair gives us a good feeling – everyone knows that. And yet, few people consider the relationship between mental health and hair. Many mental health conditions can cause thinning or unhealthy hair, forming a cycle of damage to self-esteem that may seem difficult to escape. This four-part blog series focuses on four mental health conditions as they impact your hair, and what can be done to help.
Can depression cause hair loss?
As last week’s blog discussed, clinical stress can cause hair loss in one of three ways. Clinical stress can also lead to depression. But can depression cause hair loss directly?
Some anti-depressant medication, such as Prozac, can cause thinning hair as a side-effect. Thinning hair also frequently has a negative effect on mood. People with thinning hair may experience damage to their self-esteem; feel less physically attractive or less sexually desirable; or feel confronted by the body’s ageing process, over which they may feel they have little control. All this can contribute to low mood, anxiety, and worry.
However, for low mood to cross the clinical threshold into depression, a number of criteria need to be met. Sufferers must have experienced low mood consistently for a period of at least two weeks; they may feel tired and fed-up, be pessimistic about the future, and in some cases experience thoughts of death or suicide.
Hair loss can be a factor in these symptoms – it can give people suffering from clinical depression a ‘focus’ for their negative feelings. People suffering from depression are in emotional pain but frequently feel powerless to change the way they feel. They may even deny these feelings or feel guilty about them; as if, especially when hair loss is the cause, they ‘shouldn’t’ feel bad.
Facing up to the loss
But the only way to improve low mood caused by hair loss is to confront it – pardon the pun – head-on. Any loss or change can traumatic, and acknowledging this is the first step to psychological recovery.
Recovery is possible
You may find it helpful to speak to a professional counsellor about your feelings, or alternatively try Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, a skills-based therapy which can develop psychological coping mechanisms and improve self-esteem.
As for hair loss, this too can be treated proactively. Whether hair loss is caused by depression, or contributing to it, a specialist hair clinic in combination with emotional support can quickly put your head in a better place.
If you’re affected by hair loss and low mood, contact The Wimpole Clinic to set up a consultation. We will diagnose your hair loss, and talk through your options.
Depression is a serious mental health condition which requires treatment. For information and support, visit //www.mind.org.uk/.
Next week, we look at the mythology of hair, starting with Samson; the Biblical figure who lost his strength when he lost his hair