Background: The relationship between psychiatric disorders and alopecia areata has not been well studied. Although previous reports have been unable to correlate psychiatric illness with hair loss, a recent study determined that 74% of patients with alopecia areata (AA) under evaluation had one or more lifetime psychiatric diagnoses.
Methods: Two hundred and ninety-four community-based patients with alopecia areata responded to a detailed questionnaire distributed by Help Alopecia International Research, Inc. The prevalence of psychiatric disorders was determined using diagnostic criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IIIR).
Results: Major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, and paranoid disorder were all present in patients with alopecia areata at rates significantly higher than in the general population.
Conclusions: Alopecia areata patients are at a higher risk of developing psychiatric comorbidity during their clinical course.