Sometimes taking medication is unavoidable, especially if you have a major depressive disorder or some other condition that requires you to be on antidepressant medications.
Can Lexapro cause hair loss? Yes, Lexapro can and sometimes does. Is hair loss from antidepressants permanent? Thankfully, in most cases, it is not, and it is possible to get thick hair back after you lose hair because of Lexapro.
What Is Lexapro?
Lexapro is the brand name of escitalopram, which is one of the serotonergic antidepressant medications. As such, it is used to treat mental health conditions and falls in the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) category.
Anxiety and major depressive symptoms are the two conditions it is most commonly prescribed to treat. However, it is also used to treat depression and other mental health conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder.
It is also combined with other antidepressants to treat bipolar disorder. It usually takes between 4 to 8 weeks to start seeing results after you start taking this medication.
SSRIs work by raising the levels of serotonin in the brain and by making it more available to be used. Serotonin is one of the chemicals needed by the brain to function properly.
For depressive episodes, medical professionals will usually have you keep taking it for six months to a year.
A medication of this type is often the first one a doctor will prescribe, as it is considered milder than selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, and atypical antidepressants.
Though it is slightly less likely to cause side effects than other drugs of this type, some of its side effects include:
Worsened mental state
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like this should also not be taken when in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. Doing so can cause health problems and even withdrawal symptoms in the newborn.
You are also told not to consume any alcohol or marijuana with Lexapro. Either of these may increase the likelihood of dizziness or other side effects.
Finally, patients using Lexapro who also take some form of ibuprofen regularly can experience stomach bleeding or ulcers.
How Does Lexapro Cause Hair Loss?
There is no doubt that escitalopram can trigger hair loss in a lot of people. Unfortunately, many antidepressants cause hair loss, with some types being worse than others.
Hair loss associated with antidepressant use is not commonly reported, making it a rare side effect. There was a clinical study done on this by the National Library of Medicine.
In this trial, paroxetine and fluoxetine had the lowest risk of hair loss. Meanwhile, bupropion had the highest risk of hair loss, with escitalopram and others falling somewhere in the middle.
There have been at least three cases where hair loss was because of escitalopram. As of this point, there has been no proof of what the link is between antidepressants and hair loss, but there are speculations.
One of these is that it blocks some nutrients from being digested properly. This causes hair loss from poor nutrition.
Telogen effluvium is a well-known type of hair loss that has two main causes, both of which can be caused by Lexapro. First and most commonly, stress can cause hair loss. This includes both physical and mental stress.
If you have sudden weight gain or any of the other side effects of this new medication, your body will be stressed. This will depend on the severity of the side effect, and you may not see any outward symptoms other than hair loss to indicate this is happening.
Second, changes in hormones can cause induced hair loss by telogen effluvium. Since some of the possible side effects of this drug involve incontinence and other hormonal-regulated things, it is clear Lexapro can affect your hormones.
Unfortunately, antidepressants cause hair loss sometimes by the changes they make when fixing your brain’s chemistry. Your hair follicles regulate their cycle based largely on hormones and brain signals.
So, if these signals change or your hormones are altered in any way, it can cause you to lose hair. Either way, hair loss called telogen effluvium occurs when follicles let go of their hair strands in the telogen phase of your hair growth cycle sooner than they should.
Since the telogen phase is the resting phase, no more hair will grow from the hair follicles until that hair follicle hits the growth part of the cycle again.
However, if the cause of the hair loss is still there (e.g., stress from the medication you are taking), your hair follicles will not leave the resting stage. This can make treating this type of hair loss complicated if you still need to take antidepressants.
What To Do About Hair Loss From Lexapro
Most of the things you can do for this type of hair loss include over-the-counter treatments that anyone can use to help their hair grow back. Since antidepressants cause hair loss mostly because of telogen effluvium, treatments specifically for that are best.
For example, there are vitamins and shampoos that are formulated to help with thinning hair caused by that. Getting those products is a good place to start treating your hair loss.
In fact, one case in the large health claims database (a database for health claims where all side effects are reported) involved a woman having hair loss from an SSRI treatment similar to Lexapro.
She started taking a multivitamin, and within a month, her hair loss stopped, even as she continued treatment for her depressive episodes.
Otherwise, some products used to treat male pattern hair loss can also help your hair grow back. These often prove beneficial for increasing circulation to your scalp and can deal with DHT, which may be worsening your hair loss even if it is not the main cause.
Oils like coconut oil and essential oils can have a therapeutic benefit for your scalp. These can also prevent hair loss that might be caused by hair breakage since they strengthen your hair strands and can provide a protective layer.
In short, a good list to start with for hair loss is:
Take some type of multivitamin or hair loss supplement.
Use shampoo and conditioner products that encourage more hair to grow.
See if there are other hair loss treatments you can use while on Lexapro.
Avoid everything you can that might damage your hair or worsen hair loss.
Take care of your general health and other medical conditions.
You can do everything for your hair you can think of and not see substantial improvement if you are not getting the sleep you need or are weakening your immune system. So take care of yourself.
Talk To Your Doctor
Depending on which depressive symptoms you have, your doctor may be able to switch your prescription to a different antidepressant.
Some people taking escitalopram have successfully been able to switch to duloxetine. Duloxetine may be able to help your mental health without causing hair loss.
Most people notice their hair fall slow down within a week of when they stop taking Lexapro. However, hair regrowth takes longer than that, depending on why it was causing hair thinning.
It is important to avoid stopping Lexapro cold turkey, as this can increase your risk of hair loss. Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome is a medically recognized problem that can lead to flu-like symptoms and other side effects if you stop taking your medication too quickly.
If you are taking Lexapro and other medications don’t work for you, you may need to wait until your mental condition goes into complete remission before you stop taking it.
In the meantime, lowering the dose of your medication may be able to minimize your hair loss. Sometimes, your doctor will increase your medication dosage slowly to see how much works for you.
You may not notice hair loss with a low dose, only to get significant hair loss with a slightly higher one. In this case, you can request to go back down, which your doctor may allow if they understand your self-esteem will be negatively impacted if you experience hair loss.
If you only had a little hair loss, your doctor may tell you to just wait and see if it grows back on its own after stopping Lexapro. If your hair loss was severe or hasn’t come back after several months, they may be able to recommend a treatment.
If you are already suffering from depression, hair loss can feel outright hopeless if it is caused because of your antidepressant medication. Nobody should have to choose between their mental health and their hair growth.
What can make this even harder is that hair loss can cause anxiety and lower your self-esteem, which can make you feel more depressed.
However, since hair loss is an infrequent side effect of Lexapro, you should verify it is because of the antidepressants before you take steps about it.
You may experience hair loss because of thyroid disease, menopause, or some other illness, and each of these will have a different treatment that is best for them.
Did you have hair loss or other adverse effects after starting treatment, whether it was Lexapro or some other SSRI medication? I’d love to know if your hair loss continued after stopping it, or if it grew back after the resting stage ended, and if you found anything that was helpful.