Can Seasonal Affective Disorder Trigger Hair Loss?

The holiday season – while filled with feelings of merriment and delight – is difficult for many. Approximately 5 percent of the population experiences Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) just before the holidays and after the New Year.¹ Symptoms of SAD typically appear in late fall to early winter – right around Christmastime – and persist until the warmer days of spring materialize. Unfortunately, individuals suffering from SAD experience major depression that disturbs their emotional wellbeing and physical health.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms

Seasonal depression is not a one-size-fits-all emotional response. Consider the following common symptoms of SAD, courtesy of the Mayo Clinic²:

  • Irritability
  • Low energy and lethargy
  • Heavy feeling in arms or legs
  • Lack of interest in preferred activities
  • Changes in appetite resulting in weight gain
  • Confusion, mental fog or difficulty concentrating
  • Oversleeping
  • Agitation and mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty socializing

Seasonal depression does not typically worsen to the point of thoughts or suicide, but SAD severity is case-by-case – particularly for individuals with existing emotional conditions like long-term anxiety or depression. If you have thoughts of suicide or self-harm, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 immediately.

SAD, Hair Loss and LLLT

SAD occurs due to reduced levels of sunlight during winter that affect the amount of serotonin transmitted to the brain. In addition, melatonin from the pineal gland increases in the dark. With shorter days and darker weather, melatonin levels increase during the winter, causing feelings of fatigue and sleepiness. This disrupts your brain’s biological clock body that is intended to trigger energy during the day and drowsiness at night. Because SAD manipulates your internal chemistry and healthy hormone balance, you could be at a higher risk of thinning or excess hair shedding from November through February. Not only does SAD trigger hair loss, but thinning and shedding from SAD exacerbates feelings of despair, worry and self-consciousness. Individuals with seasonal affective disorder may suffer from telogen effluvium or trichotillomania. Unlike telogen effluvium, which is your body’s automatic response to trauma, trichotillomania is a condition where patients actively pull hair out as a physical response to emotional strain. In both cases, visiting a mental health practitioner is highly recommended. Fortunately, low-level laser therapy with Capillus® is available for patients with seasonal affective disorder and hair loss, whether suffering from telogen effluvium or trichotillomania. SAD patients with temporary thinning or shedding can benefit from laser therapy for hair loss since treatment is non-invasive. Additionally, Capillus’ FDA-approval allows for peace of mind for those worried about side effects and safety. To counteract hair loss from seasonal affective disorder, contact Capillus at 844-280-4680.

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