Hair loss due to medication.... Can anyone give me hope?

Discussions about the diffuse thinning experienced by women, usually after menopause
Jenvoy
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2015 11:16 am

Hair loss due to medication.... Can anyone give me hope?

Post by Jenvoy »

I apologize in advance for such a LONG post!

On June 8th I started taking Trazodone as prescribed by my then physician for anxiety and high BP. He prescribed 50mg nightly, but I was very reluctant to take it since I have a 2.5 year old. That night I quartered the pill initially, and woke up with what felt like a severe hangover! I was then told by the same Doctor that I needed to slowly increase and take the full dose or I wouldn't benefit from it. I started off quartering and then only increased to 25mg. I then seen a holistic Doctor who I asked about the trazodone. Again, she told me to increase to the 50mg to see benefits. I think over the course of 3 1/2 weeks I took 25mg. I skipped 3-4 days because my son was sick.

All I can say is that I am glad I did not take the full dose!

In the beginning of July I noticed I had a lot more hair shed. Which isn't all that abnormal for me. I had a full head of thick, coarse, wavy hair. I would often see it on the bathroom floor, or kitchen, etc. So I dismissed it as just being the usual. Then on July 8th I looked in the mirror and saw my hair all knotted (which I've never had an issue with) and tried to untangle with my fingers and saw 6-8 hairs just fall to the ground. I freaked out and finally put 2 in 2 together! I googled trazodone hair loss and encountered several people who have had the same issue!

I had stopped taking the trazodone at that time, and immediately scheduled an appointment with my physician and he felt awful, but told me he didn't think it was due to the trazodone (what?!) and referred me to a dermatologist. The dermatologist took one look at me and thought I was crazy. I clearly have a lot of hair, but nothing near what I had a month prior. I guessed at that point I had lost 15% of my hair. I explained to him that I thought it was due to the trazodone. He then told me that both he and my doctor didn't think that was the case, and thought it was anxiety induced. (ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!) I've been through abuse, major loss, post natal eclampsia, anxiety and stress over the course of 35 years of my life and I've NEVER had hair loss! Even after the birth of my son 2.5 years ago! He then told me to google telogen effluvium, buy some 5% rogaine and it would "eventually taper off."
Gee, thanks for nothing doctor!

Needless to say, I walked out of their furious and frustrated that both of these physicians thought my anxiety was the cause! I researched and found that tricyclic antidepressants only cause 1-2% hair loss in rare cases. When they do it tends to be severe. Great!

After seeing my holistic doctor almost 3 weeks ago, I found out that I tested negative for thyroid issues, celiac, hashimoto's, and everything else looked great...except my ferritin (which was 24), as well as low in Vitamin D. I was within normal range for iron (149). I realize after researching online that both a low ferritin and Vitamin D deficiency can cause hair loss. But if this was the case, wouldn't I have encountered telogen effluvium long ago? I've always had a consistent diet. I rarely eat beef, or red meat. But I'm not a vegetarian. She told me to take 325 mg of ferrous sulfate, along with 2,000mg of Vitamin C, 5,000mg of Vitamin D. I also take 5,000mg of biotin, my daily vitamin, and a B complex vitamin supplement. She told me that it may take a few months for the shedding to stop. Since then I've been eating more red meat, and I even downed 1/2 a can of smoked oysters yesterday. (disgusting, to say the least!) I'm willing to try anything!

I've spent so much time bawling and depressed seeing my once beautiful, thick hair just fall out everywhere. I'm guessing now at this point I have lost 35% of my hair. I have spent a great deal of time trying to find anyone who's experienced the same drug induced telogen effluvium and I've not had very many people respond. I found 2 studies online of similar incidents. One a male who took antidepressants for 1 month, and 1 month later the hair shed stopped. Another a woman who took antidepressants as well, and her hair stopped 6 weeks later. I keep trying to tell myself that this is temporary, and I've already stopped the trigger. But I'm so frightened that my hair won't grow back the same! One lady wrote a review of Desyrel (trazodone) online and said that her hair grew back, but it was weak, thin and wasn't the same.
This has been the worst month 1/2 so far of my entire life! It's almost like a form of torture. I wish I had answers. I suppose I won't know for several more months.

On a more positive note...I have noticed less hair shed in my bangs since stopping the medication (or poison) a month ago. I also see some sporadic hair growth near my bang area on the hairline. It had to have been around 200+ a month ago. The floor in the AM doesn't seem to be covered in a tremendous amount of hair as it was weeks prior. Although the shedding continues. I'm estimating 100-150 daily, but I don't count and I have long hair so who knows? I guess I am just hoping that maybe someone here can give me some glimmer of hope?
Last edited by Jenvoy on Thu Aug 13, 2015 3:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Tom Hagerty
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Re: Hair loss due to medication.... Can anyone give me hope?

Post by Tom Hagerty »

I apologize in advance for such a LONG post!
What you have to say could not be expressed in just a few sentences so there is no need for an apology. Your LONG post described in detail your problem and its possible solution. I question the "solution" though and I'll give you my reasons.

Trazodone (Desyrel) is a medication used for depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Of course, like most medications, it also has side effects, one of which is hair shedding - telogen effluvium. Many people think that a certain pill will solve a specific problem and this mind set is reinforced by commercials on TV. What could be more logical - if a person feels depressed he or she takes an antidepressant. But this mentality also extends to nutrition. If a person is low on iron he or she takes an iron pill and a vitamin C pill to aid in its absorption.
She [your holistic doctor] told me to take 325 mg of ferrous sulfate, along with 2,000mg of Vitamin C, 5,000mg of Vitamin D. I also take 5,000mg of biotin, my daily vitamin, and a B complex vitamin supplement.
There is nothing wrong with this recommendation to take iron along with vitamins you may be low on. But my recommendation would be to get iron, vitamin D, and members of the B-complex from real food. Nutritious food, including red meat, will give you a balanced mix of all the vitamins and minerals you need and you will not have to be concerned about getting too much of any single nutrient.

You said you researched antidepressants. Do some research on iron supplements too. You will find that there is evidence that too much iron from supplements is correlated with a higher risk of cancer. Also if you take a specific member of the B-complex like 5000 mg of biotin, this may throw out of balance the other members of the complex.

Now even with my warnings against taking supplements, I take some supplements too. I also tend to believe that crap about the benefits of supplements. Here's what I take I'm sad to admit - sea kelp which is a source of iodine, vitamin D3 since I don't get any vitamin D from the sun, astaxanthin, Norwegian cod liver oil, and brewer's yeast. The two last supplements I consider real foods though. But I would never consider taking an iron supplement.

There is a lot of material in your post. In a way, it's almost your life story, the last chapter of which is not a happy one. But I think future chapters will be happy. Telogen effluvium is not a permanent form of hair loss. You'll get your hair back and I hope you'll get your life back too. And I hope you'll get your life back without having to rely on antidepressants or other medications.
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Jenvoy
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2015 11:16 am

Re: Hair loss due to medication.... Can anyone give me hope?

Post by Jenvoy »

Thank you Tom. I so appreciate the reply! I've looked at older posts here and encountered a few posts with somewhat related issues. It was encouraging to see that one woman in particular had hair shedding similar to mine and then her hair loss seemed to taper off and I'm sure she moved on. When you're "in it" and dealing with telogen effluvium it's devastating. Although, nobody understands when they don't have to go through it. I never in my life thought I'd have to deal with this, and at such a young age.

I'm mad at myself for even filling that prescription and following through with the doctors advice. I was prescribed a low dose of prozac by a psychiatrist 2 years ago, after I had my son and I threw it in the trash. I guess this time I was desperate, and got scared since I am borderline hypertensive coupled with anxiety. Not a great combo.

I have read about too much iron, which makes me reluctant to take it at this point. Although, I understand my ferritin is low; my concern is what if I'm not able to store iron. I have an Iron level of 149, but ferritin of 24? I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it in September...when I go back in and get my ferritin level re-checked. For now, I am taking the supplements I need and I'm also eating healthier, and getting a lot more red meat than I used to eat. Although, it makes me sick to think about...I'm even willing to eat liver. I've read that chicken liver is higher in iron. Is that true? Do you recommend liver as a better meat for iron intake?

I've read quite a few postings on other sites, of others who have also had hair loss from trazodone. They had higher doses and took the pill for a longer extent of time. At this point I don't even know if the dosage and time on the drug has anything to do with the amount of hair you shed, as well as how long the telogen effluvium will occur. I would assume it would, but I've also read that it depends on the person's sensitivity to the medication. It would surely make me feel a lot better knowing how long this will last, if I'll get my hair back. I guess I won't know that answer for sometime. Seeing as telogen effluvium could last anywhere from the least being 2 months to 6 months or even a year? Another thing I forgot to add which is equally as important. I also found out my adrenals were low (48). I'm taking a supplement for that as well that my doctor recommended. That too can have an effect on hair, correct?
Tom Hagerty
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Re: Hair loss due to medication.... Can anyone give me hope?

Post by Tom Hagerty »

I also found out my adrenals were low (48).


The adrenal glands, the pituitary glands, and the hypothalamus all work together. They produce hormones that are crucial in the control of many of your body systems. If you have adrenal insufficiency, this could cause an imbalance in how these glands function together. Are you going to take dexamethasone for the condition? I'm sure you are going to do some research on this drug of which I know nothing about.

A few days ago I saw Dr. David Perlmutter's presentation on Public TV. I think you would find what he says relevant to your problems. His nutritional solutions make complete sense to me. Read through the information on his website. You might even get one of his books at the public library. His ideas about how a certain kind of diet can alter your mood might appeal to you. And, by the way, the kind of diet he advocates is a selection of tasty foods, not some weird assortment of stuff you wouldn't even feed a dog.

I like liver a few times a month and when I go to the Golden Corral Buffet I always get a plate of chicken livers. They taste good with almost anything. The iron in meat is absorbed better than the iron in green vegetables.

Everybody with telogen effluvium wants some kind of time frame for recovery. I wish I could tell you that in 72 days you would see the reemergence of thick, healthy hair. Of course you know that time frames, even though comforting, are not realistic when it comes to hair problems. Just eat nutritious foods, think happy thoughts, and listen to fantastic music ☺ - you may be surprised one morning when you look into the mirror.
Jenvoy
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2015 11:16 am

Re: Hair loss due to medication.... Can anyone give me hope?

Post by Jenvoy »

Thank you Tom! I am looking into the adrenal issue and will ask my doctor about dexamethasone. It's frustrating that I could have treated all of this long ago, if only more primary care physicians in western medicine ran all of these tests instead of plying patients with unneeded drugs.

I have a question regarding hair re-growth during telogen effluvium. It does appear that I have a lot of hair growth near my hairline (might be the an area I was loosing hair 1st 2 months ago.) I do see a little sporadic hair growth on top, where I was and continue to loose hair the most. Just tiny hairs here and there. I realize it will be many months before I can completely cover the areas I have lost the most. Can hair re-growth like this be a positive sign that perhaps the telogen effluvium would be slowly resolving itself? Or perhaps it's just a positive sign that since I continue to shed more hair, hair re-growth is happening as well. Or perhaps I should just be grateful that hair is re-growing at all!

I apologize, you probably get this question over and over. I'm sure the latter is probably more the common answer. ;)
Tom Hagerty
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Re: Hair loss due to medication.... Can anyone give me hope?

Post by Tom Hagerty »

Just tiny hairs here and there.
Recovery from TE takes many forms. Sometimes terminal (thick, pigmented) hairs replace the shed hairs and the former hair loss sufferer can breath easily again. But then sometimes vellus (thin, short, and lightly pigmented) hairs replace the shed hairs. This is a sign that you are in the process of recovery; the recovery might be slower though. Vellus hairs do not change into terminal hairs. They have to fall out first and in the next growing stage of the hair cycle they may be replaced by terminal hairs. It's a complex process just like a love affair - many stages.
Or perhaps I should just be grateful that hair is re-growing at all!
Your hair is growing back but like most of us you'll have more challenges in life - ups and downs. Be grateful for the ups knowing full well that another down might be just around the corner. This is summer though so forget about the potential for downs in the distant future.
Jenvoy
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2015 11:16 am

Re: Hair loss due to medication.... Can anyone give me hope?

Post by Jenvoy »

Another question...
Does the shedding gradually taper off or will it resolve abruptly once telogen effluvium starts to resolve? I was tired of my hair just falling out all over the place, so I run my fingers through it in the AM to see how much I'm still shedding. I'm guessing (since I do not count hair anymore!) that I'm loosing 150 or so daily. I'm quite sure I was loosing 150-250 the weeks after I stopped trazodone back in early July. I see a lot of regrowth throughout my scalp and at my hairline, which I'm happy about. But my hair is gradually thinning which is still upsetting to see.

I read that medication induced telogen effluvium will resolve "spontaneously" but I've read that it can taper off. Which occurs with drug induced telogen effluvium? Perhaps it's different for each individual?
Tom Hagerty
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Re: Hair loss due to medication.... Can anyone give me hope?

Post by Tom Hagerty »

Perhaps it's different for each individual?
That's the key concept. The timeline for recovery is variable. In other words, no one really know how long your recovery will take. But I do know that a healthy style of life can speed up the recovery process. And by a healthy life style I mean a nutritious diet, proper exercise, not too much psychological stress.

My guess is that in six months you'll forget all about your problem with TE and be able to get on with your life - sunny uplands forever.
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Jenvoy
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Re: Hair loss due to medication.... Can anyone give me hope?

Post by Jenvoy »

Great picture! Thanks Tom! I'd love to be able to come back here in another couple of months and post a positive recovery update. I haven't seen many on this forum.
Jenvoy
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2015 11:16 am

Re: Hair loss due to medication.... Can anyone give me hope?

Post by Jenvoy »

Tom Hagerty wrote:
Perhaps it's different for each individual?
That's the key concept. The timeline for recovery is variable. In other words, no one really knows how long your recovery will take. But I do know that a healthy style of life can speed up the recovery process. And by a healthy life style I mean a nutritious diet, proper exercise, not too much psychological stress.

My guess is that in six months you'll forget all about your problem with TE and be able to get on with your life - sunny uplands forever.
Hi Tom,
Still shedding unfortunately. :cry: Good news is my ferritin is up to 42 from 24. I've been eating red meat once a week, and I FINALLY caved and made some chicken liver last night for dinner. Eating that, I felt like a contender on Fear factor. Anyways, I was curious how frequently you'd suggest eating something like chicken liver, and or red meat? I don't want to overdo it, but at the same time I'd like my ferritin to get up to at least 60-70 and continue to steadily increase so my hair stops shedding. I realize this will take many months, but I want to make sure I'm not overloading on red meat and chicken livers. I'm also making sure I'm eating enough greens to help boost the Iron intake.

Another question (or 2...or 3!)...I noticed one shorter hair that was shed a moment ago. Is this some sort of indicator of something I should be concerned about? I'm assuming since I am diffuse hair loss all over, this is just apart of the acute TE shedding. It will be 3 months on Thursday. I've made it this far without loosing my mind. I'm sure I'll endure another 3 until this stops. My fear is it continuing on after the 6 months and turns into chronic TE due to my low ferritin. What is a good Iron level and Ferritin to start with? Would you say 170 Iron and 70 Ferritin?

I'm also confused that having iron deficiency this entire time (since I didn't consume a lot of beef to begin with) how this is the main reason behind my hair loss. Wouldn't this have occurred before the trazone? I would think after giving birth to my son and loosing so much blood, not eating much beef or red meat, only a lot of chicken at that time. I'm quite sure my ferritin and iron levels were severely low. I had post partum TE and my shedding stopped at a normal time frame and my hair grew back thick and beautifully. Maybe the trazodone was the trigger to this TE, or maybe this is still due to the trazodone? Just curious as to what your thoughts are. I'm more curious than worried. I realize at some point this will all stop. I also want to make sure I avoid any triggers in the future! I can't imagine enduring this kind of TE again! Oy!

Thanks Tom!
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