Is Mental Health Linked To Hair Loss?

Published: 10 de May de 2022
| Last Updated on 25 de September de 2022 by robertowtb
Dr. Oguz Kayiran
Medical Reviewer

If you have been struggling with your mental health and finding more hair strands than usual when combing, showering, or simply around the house, you may be wondering if one may be related to the other.

While some hair shedding is completely normal (adults shed between 50 and 100 hairs a day according to the American Association of Dermatology ), your mental health can also alter your shedding rate, inhibit new hair growth or cause excessive hair breakage.


By stress, we are not only talking about emotional stress but also physical stress such as going through a traumatic event, a viral infection involving high fever, or a drastic weight loss.

Telogen Effluvium (TE)

Severe stress can sometimes cause what is called Telogen effluvium or excess shedding of the hair. Adult hair follicles are constantly cycling between growing, resting, and shedding phases. Most of the hair is in a growing state, then it gradually transitions into resting and finally shedding. Telogen effluvium happens when more hair strands than usual are pushed into the resting (or telogen) phase resulting in an exaggerated shedding, and that shedding in and of itself can oftentimes cause even more stress to the sufferer.

Telogen effluvium causes a non-scarring, diffuse hair loss. That means that you may notice a loss of hair density, thinning around your hairline, mid-scalp, and crown without any clearly delineated patches or bald spots.

The good news is that, for the most part, Telogen effluvium is reversible once the stressful situation is over or once the stress is under control, although it may take some time and patience to get your hair density back.

Alopecia Areata (AA)

Both stress and stress-induced anxiety have also been found to be linked to Alopecia areata (AA) along with other risk factors such as genetic predisposition. When suffering AA, your immune system attacks the hair follicles causing hair loss in the form of delineated patches or bald spots. This could progress into affecting the whole scalp (Alopecia Totalis or AT) or, in even more extreme cases, it could extend to the whole body (Alopecia Universalis or AU).

Even though there is no known cure for AA, there are some medications that can be prescribed to treat AA to some extent, such as corticosteroids or anti-inflammatory drugs and, even without any treatment or medication, people with only a few patches often experience a sudden and complete recovery.

Other stress-induced hair loss types

Although infrequent, stress can cause hair loss in other ways such as by increasing corticosterone levels which may inhibit hair regrowth, or by creating an urge to pull your hair out (trichotillomania). In cases of severe trichotillomania, hair follicles may be damaged by the repeated pulling action and affect hair regrowth rate, pattern, and quality.


At times, stress, anxiety, and depression can go hand in hand and, in those cases, people suffering from depression may be experiencing the type of hair shedding mentioned above (Telogen Effluvium).

Depression can also influence appetite leading to nutritional deficiencies which could affect both hair growth and structure. If you suspect that may be the case, your healthcare provider should be able to run some tests and determine any deficiencies. Vitamin D, Zinc, Selenium, and Iron are amongst the most common nutrient deficiencies linked to increased hair loss or decreased hair growth.


Anyone who takes antidepressants will tell you that while they can be incredibly beneficial to treat depression and other disorders such as OCD, anxiety, and panic attacks, they come with a lengthy list of side effects.

One of these side effects is excessive shedding in the form of Telogen Effluvium (as explained above). Although rare, some case studies and articles have found a link between antidepressant use and excessive shedding. This drug-induced hair loss usually appears within the first 3 months of usage and tends to be reversible once the medication is discontinued.


Start by reaching out to your healthcare provider to get help managing your mental health and to rule out other hair loss causes. Your provider can also refer you to a psychologist or a psychiatrist, discuss medication or recommend general habits to improve your mental health.

In addition to that, you may want to look into ways of improving your overall psychological well-being. According to mental health professionals, a healthy lifestyle can help minimize the development of mental health disorders. These changes do not need to be drastic; simple things such as a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, spending time outdoors, or getting enough sleep can have huge effects on both your physical and mental health.


While it is never advisable to discontinue or modify any prescription use without consulting your healthcare provider, you can contact them to discuss your options in terms of dosage or alternative drugs to the specific medication you are taking.

Your healthcare provider may switch you to a different medication for a few months to see if the side effect subsides or to rule out any other hair loss causes. They may also prescribe topical FDA-approved hair loss medications (if not contraindicated with your other prescription drugs).

*If you are struggling with depression, talk to your primary care doctor. You can also reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-(800)-273‑TALK (8255) or via Live Online Chat) for a 24/7 helpline. If you feel your situation may be life-threatening, please get immediate help by calling 911.

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