There is no known direct link between depression and hair loss. However it is possible that factors relating to depression could have an impact on hair growth. Some examples include:
- Poor quality or lack of sleep affecting hormonal balance
- Poor quality diet affecting hair nutrition
- Higher stress levels affecting hormonal balance and hair nutrition through nutrient sapping
- Medication affecting the liver’s capacity to filter toxins and hormones, due to increased work load
Any one of these factors could apply to you if you suffer from depression. If so, take these actions:
Get Seven Hours of Good Quality Sleep Every Night
Go to bed around eight hours before you’ll be waking up. Try to get seven hours of good quality sleep. Research indicates any less than seven hours can increase risk of heart disease and less five hours may double the risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, more than seven hours sleep may also be associated with health problems. See Seven Hours — The Magic Number for Sleep, Mercola.com.
If you suffer from insomnia try taking these steps:
- If possible perform 20 minutes of hard exercise every day
- Don’t eat for at least two hours before you go to bed
- Make sure there are no lights (even small LED standby lights or phone lights) in your bedroom. Make sure your curtains or blinds are shut and no light gets into your room at night. Even a small amount of light decreases melatonin (see Light Exposure May Cut Production of Melatonin, WebMD) and disrupts sleep
Feed Your Brain
Your brain needs something called ‘myelin’ to send electronic signals along neuron pathways. Essential fatty acids feed myelin (hence why oily fish is sometimes referred to as “brain food”).
To feed your brain eat the following every day:
- At least five portions of fresh leafy and brightly coloured vegetables (like baby leaf spinach, peppers and broccoli)
- Consume foods high in B vitamins – see The 10 Foods Highest in B Vitamins
- Use an organic cold pressed EFA whole food supplement
You can learn about about two of the best whole food supplements for improving health here:
Reduce Your Stress Levels
If you think stress is one of the things that is impacting on your depression it’s really important that you follow the first two points (getting seven hours of consistent good quality sleep and feeding your brain). In addition to these steps, try the following methods for reducing stress levels:
Try using a natural supplement to help you stay calm. Three popular herbal stress reduction supplements include:
- Valerian Root
- L Theanine
Try boxing or martial arts
Heavy exercise releases ‘endorphins’, which helps reduce stress hormones. If you think your stress is due to pent up anger, which you rarely release, try a martial art. Bag training and sparing will give you a chance to release aggression and get some intense exercise at the same time.
If you find you get angry often you should have a good think about why that is. What specifically makes you angry? Can you do anything about it? It’s best to resolve problems properly but if you can’t at least use that anger for something positive – whatever you do don’t let your anger out on people.
How to Work Towards Improving Your Liver Health
If you’ve used medication, alcohol or even just comfort eating in an attempt to reduce the impact depression has on your life, it will have no-doubt reduced the health of your liver. The liver processes toxins like alcohol and medication, unhealthy fats and other unhealthy aspects of junk food. All of these put a burden on your liver, which can force it to store built-up matter. This may reduce the efficiency with which your liver is able to deal with inputs.
If the liver’s capacity is reduced it can be forced to recirculate hormones into the bloodstream and send fat to the skin (as sebum). See How the Liver Relates to Hair Loss to learn more.
Get Off the Medication
One of the best things you can do to improve your liver health is reduce the amount of medication you’re taking. If you’re using antidepressants your goal should always be to gradually reduce your use. Antidepressants are a short-term solution to depression. In the long-term you need to find real solutions that solve the underlying problems rather than merely masking them. That might mean using therapy, confronting issues from your past and trying to resolve them and gradually practising psychological techniques to train your mind to respond to stimuli more positively.
It should always be your goal to be medication free, but if it makes things worse medication may be the best solution for your current state of mind.
Conclusion: Does Depression Cause Hair Loss?
My answer to this question is no. I say this because if you are suffering from clinical depression and believe it is the reason for your hair loss you are almost certainly wrong. It is highly unlikely that the depression is a significant cause of your hair loss. Yes the factors discussed above may have an impact on your hair and your physical health, but it is far more likely that DHT, a scalp condition or a hormonal imbalance is the significant cause of your hair loss.
You should make it your priority to think more positively and find real solutions to the root cause(s) of your depression. This will involve changing your life. I can say this with complete confidence because I have suffered from depression and you will not solve it without making a dramatic change to your life. And when you make that change it will make a big difference.