Hair loss perception and symptoms of depression in female outpatients attending a general dermatology clinic

An Bras Dermatol. 2012 May-Jun;87(3):412-7. doi: 10.1590/s0365-05962012000300010.


Background: Hair loss is a common complaint among women and may be associated with psychological disturbances.

Objectives: This study investigated dermatology patients with respect to the prevalence of complaints of hair loss and the association between these complaints and symptoms of depression.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted with female outpatients over 20 years of age with no hair-related disorders. Patients were asked about hair loss and were evaluated with respect to symptoms of depression. The following variables were also analyzed: age, dermatological diagnosis, comorbidities, medications, family history of alopecia, hair length, the number of hairs extracted in the hair pull test and the presence of hair thinning or seborrheic dermatitis. Data were compared by bivariate analysis and multiple logistic regressions between groups of women with and without hair loss.

Results: Of the 157 women interviewed, 54% reported hair loss and 29% reported at least two key symptoms of depression. The median (IQD) age of the women was 51 (20) years. Complaints of hair loss were associated with the presence of symptoms of depression even following adjustment for the other covariates (p=0.02; OR=2.79; 95%CI: 1.18-6.61). Statistically significant differences were also found between the patients with and without hair loss with respect to: age (p=0.03), family history of alopecia (p<0.01), hair length (p=0.01), number of hairs extracted in the hair pull test (p=0.02), hair thinning (p<0.01), seborrheic dermatitis (p<0.01) and problems with personal relationships (p=0.04).

Discussion: Hair-related disorders are a common topic of interest in this population. The significant association found between this complaint and symptoms of depression indicates a relationship between the perception of hair loss and the psychological well being of the women evaluated.

Conclusion: Complaints of hair loss were common and were associated with a greater prevalence of symptoms of depression among adult female outpatients at a public dermatology clinic.

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Concept