If you’re taking (or considering taking) sertraline to treat depression, you may have gone down a rabbit hole reading about all the potential side effects.
One that may have caused you a little bit of concern? Risk of hair loss.
While taking antidepressant medications can be incredibly beneficial, we can all admit that hair loss isn’t exactly the most fun experience.
Truth is, hair loss is a sertraline side effect — but it’s very rare.
Keep reading to learn more about sertraline, why it sometimes can lead to hair loss and how you can treat that hair loss if it does happen to you.
In fact, sertraline is one of the most popular antidepressants on the market. Upwards of 30 million prescriptions are written for it every year in the United States.
As with other SSRIs, sertraline is used to treat depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and panic attacks.
Sometimes it is also prescribed as a treatment for premature ejaculation.
Sertraline is considered to be a safe and effective prescription medication. However, just like with any antidepressant (or medication in general), there are some side effects that could happen.
Common adverse effects include nausea, diarrhea, constipation, dry mouth and heartburn.
There are also some more serious side effects that are very rare — including seizures, hives, blood pressure issues, chest pain, muscle pain and difficulty breathing.
If you experience any of these side effects, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Another side effect that some people report is temporary hair loss — which may show up as bald patches or overall hair thinning.
Sertraline-related hair loss is not common, but it can happen. Some case studies have connected antidepressants (including sertraline) with hair loss in a small number of people.
To better understand telogen effluvium, you have to know a bit about how your hair grows.
The hair goes through three growth phases. In the anagen phase, your hair grows. Then there is the catagen stage, when your strands transition from the anagen phase and growth stops.
The final phase is called telogen, which is the resting stage. Sertraline can affect this phase, potentially interrupting it, or (if you’ve been taking the medication for more than 12 weeks) reducing its length.
Before we dive into treatment options, a warning: It’s not a good idea to stop taking sertraline in hopes that it will make your hair grow back.
It’s important to seek medical attention before altering antidepressant dosage in any way. If you suddenly stop, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, like severe mood swings.
Plus, there’s no need to stop sertraline just because of hair loss — since there are many other treatments you can try. Keep reading to learn more about them.
It works by preventing your body from converting testosterone into DHT, which is what causes you to lose hair.
The good news: It really works. In one study it was found that 99.1 percent of men who took finasteride over a ten year period stopped their hair loss from worsening.
Of those men, 91.5 percent of them noticed regrowth.
Finasteride is a tablet that must be taken on a daily basis. You can easily purchase finasteride online after obtaining a consultation with a healthcare professional. (Which you can also do online.)
Then there’s minoxidil, a topical treatment that comes in liquid and foam formulas. Many start with this because the FDA-approved medication doesn’t require a prescription.
It’s believed to work by stimulating hair follicles to enter the anagen (growth) phase.
Minoxidil also increases blood flow to your scalp, which can stimulate hair growth. In fact, a 2019 review of minoxidil found that it improved hair growth in those who suffer from pattern hair loss.
Finasteride and minoxidil work perfectly well on their own, but can be really effective when used together.
One study found that 94.1 percent of men dealing with hair loss showed an improvement in hair growth when taking both medications.
In the study, this was compared to 80.5 percent who saw an improvement using just finasteride and 50 percent who saw an improvement using only minoxidil.
The Hims Hair Power Pack offers you the chance to try both.
Another option to treat hair loss or promote regrowth is to use a shampoo specifically made to thicken hair and stimulate growth.
When a study compared finasteride and saw palmetto to see how they performed in encouraging hair regrowth, finasteride was found to be most effective, but saw palmetto also seemed to help.
Biotin — known as the healthy hair vitamin — is naturally found in foods like eggs, milk and bananas.
If you’re not getting enough naturally in your diet, a biotin supplement could help.
There are so many reasons to quit smoking: The habit wreaks havoc on your health and can lead to very serious (even fatal) health conditions.
On top of that, researchers have found a link between smoking and hair loss.
While smoke is a pollutant that can damage your hair, cigarettes have also been found to damage the DNA of your hair follicles.
Although rare, hair loss could be one of the most unwanted side effects of taking sertraline.
The type of hair loss sertraline could trigger is called telogen effluvium — which is essentially excessive shedding.
Thankfully, there are treatments that can help reverse this type of temporary hair loss and encourage regrowth.
If you are experiencing hair loss of any type, it’s a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional to determine the best treatment options for you.