Dealing with hair loss or thinning?

Chat with our Care Team

Start now

Do Antidepressants like Sertraline Cause Hair Loss?

Knox Beasley, MD

Reviewed by Knox Beasley, MD

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 08/26/2021

Updated 04/04/2024

If you’re taking (or considering taking) sertraline or another antidepressant to treat depression, you may be wondering about the potential side effects, including risk of hair loss.

Can Zoloft cause hair loss? Is SSRI hair loss common? Will an antidepressant kill a hair transplant or induce androgenetic alopecia? There’s a lot of room for fear, but let’s stick to the facts.

Hair loss is a sertraline side effect — but it’s very rare and not connected to things like male pattern baldness. If you’re concerned about the growth cycle of your hair, read on to understand how sertraline and other antidepressants can sometimes lead to hair loss — and what to do about it.

Sertraline, best known under the brand name Zoloft, is one of the most popular antidepressants on the market. Tens of millions of prescriptions are written for it every year in the United States.

According to the US National Library of Medicine, sertraline is part of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of antidepressant medications.

As with other SSRIs, sertraline is used to treat depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and panic disorder.

Sometimes it is also prescribed as a treatment for premature ejaculation, according to the International Journal of Impotence Research.

This is all to say that sertraline can affect more than one part of your body. Sertraline is considered to be a safe and effective prescription medication. But as is true for any antidepressant (or medication in general), there are some potential side effects of sertraline.

Some of these common adverse effects include nausea, diarrhea, constipation, dry mouth and heartburn.

There are also some more serious, rare side effects that may accompany sertraline use, 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.

So, what’s the Zoloft and hair loss connection? Well, one of the rare but possible side effects of this medication is something called drug-induced hair loss, which is a sudden interruption of the growth cycle of your hair that can cause your hair to thin temporarily.

Buy finasteride

more hair... there's a pill for that

Does Zoloft cause hair loss? While it’s rare, it is possible.

Another side effect that some people report while taking a sertraline treatment is temporary hair loss — which may show up as bald patches or overall hair thinning.

The specific type of hair loss that antidepressants like sertraline can trigger is called telogen effluvium, which is a temporary hair loss defined by excessive, non-scarring shedding of hair. Telogen effluvium can be caused by a range of factors like stress, depression, traumatic injury and medications.

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 according to Physiology, Hair. 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 the telogen phase, which is the resting stage.

Telogen effluvium can happen for many reasons. Injuries from a car crash, serious illness, pregnancy and giving birth, depression and stress can all induce telogen effluvium, and so can medications, regardless of what they treat.

The risk of hair loss from antidepressant medication is not restricted to sertraline. In fact, there is quite a list of antidepressants that may cause diffuse hair loss, especially other SNRIs and SSRIs.

These include fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil) and venlafaxine (Effexor XR), according to the Iranian Journal of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Citalopram (Celexa) may also cause hair loss, says The Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychology.

In addition, tricyclic antidepressants and mood stabilizers carry a minimal risk of medicine-induced alopecia, according to the Annals of Clinical Psychiatry.

Patients taking the mood stabilizers lithium, valproate, and carbamazepine may notice an increased degree of hair loss, according to another Annals of Clinical Psychiatry report.

Will you join thousands of happy customers?

4.5 average rating

Before/after images shared by customers who have purchased varying products, including prescription based products. Prescription products require an online consultation with a healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate. These customers’ results have not been independently verified. Individual results will vary. Customers were given free product.

Before we dive into treatment options, a warning: It’s not advised 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 taking your medication, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, like severe mood swings.

It’s also important to remember that hair loss due to telogen effluvium is temporary, and may simply go away as you adjust to a new medication. Of course, you should still seek medical advice if you notice thinning hair, but keep taking antidepressants as directed until specifically advised otherwise.

Besides, you won’t necessarily need to discontinue sertraline if you’re experiencing hair loss; there are many other treatments available to prevent continued hair loss. Keep reading to learn more about them.

Medication

There are a few hair loss medications that may be able to help encourage hair regrowth. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, one popular option is finasteride, a prescription medication commonly used to treat male pattern baldness.

It works by preventing your body from converting testosterone into DHT, a process that can cause hair loss.

Many people have found success with finasteride: 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 is taken daily. 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.

While its exact mechanism of minoxidil is unknown, 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 published in Drug Design, Development and Therapy found that minoxidil improved hair growth in those who suffer from pattern hair loss.

Finasteride and minoxidil work well on their own, but they can be especially effective when used together.

One study published by Dermatologic Therapy 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.

Hair Loss Shampoo

Another option to treat cases of hair loss or promote regrowth is to use a shampoo specifically made to thicken hair and stimulate growth.

It’s possible to purchase hair thickening shampoo made with saw palmetto, which is a natural ingredient thought to reduce hair loss.

When an International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology 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

Biotin — known as the healthy hair vitamin — is naturally found in foods like eggs, milk and bananas, according to the US National Library of Medicine.

If you’re not getting enough naturally in your diet, a biotin supplement could help. We offer a biotin gummy that includes additional vitamins shown to support healthy hair.

Stop Smoking

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 from Dermatology 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.

Hair loss treatments, delivered

Although rare, hair loss is a potential side effect of taking an antidepressant.

The type of hair loss sertraline and other antidepressants can 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.

17 Sources

  1. Sertraline. Medline Plus. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a697048.html
  2. Number of sertraline hydrochloride prescriptions in the U.S. from 2004 to 2018. Statista. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/781658/sertraline-hydrochloride-prescriptions-number-in-the-us/
  3. Arafa, M., Shamloul, R., (2006, March 23). Efficacy of sertraline hydrochloride in treatment of premature ejaculation: a placebo-controlled study using a validated questionnaire. International Journal of Impotence Research, 18: 534-538. Retrieved from
  4. https://www.nature.com/articles/3901469
  5. O’Bryan, E., Albanese, R., (2004). A Case Report of Fluoxetine- and Venlafaxine-Induced Hair Loss. The Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 6(4): 181. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC514846/
  6. Asghar, F., Shamim, N., Farooque, U., et al., (2020, May). Telogen Effluvium: A Review of the Literature. Cureus, 12(5): e8320. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7320655/
  7. Hoover, E., Alhajj, M., Flores, J., (2020, July 27). Physiology, Hair. StarPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499948/
  8. Finasteride (2018). Medline Plus. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a698016.html
  9. Yanagisawa, M., et al. (2019, January). Long-term (10-year) efficacy of finasteride in 523 Japanese men with androgenetic alopecia. Clinical Research and Trials. 5, 1-5. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/337105943_Long-term_10-year_efficacy_of_finasteride_in_523_Japanese_men_with_androgenetic_alopecia
  10. Badri, T., Nessel, T.A. & Kumar, D.D. (2020, May 4). Minoxidil. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/
  11. Suchonwanit, P., Thammarucha, S. & Leerunyakul, K. (2019). Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a review. Drug Design, Development and Therapy. 13, 2777–2786. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6691938/
  12. Hu, R., et al. (2015, June 2). Combined treatment with oral finasteride and topical minoxidil in male androgenetic alopecia: a randomized and comparative study in Chinese patients. Dermatologic Therapy. 28 (5), 303-308. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/dth.12246
  13. Rossi, A., Mari, E., Scarno, M., et al. (2012, October). Comparative Effectiveness and Finasteride Vs Serenoa Repens in Male Androgenetic Alopecia: A Two-Year Study. International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, Volume 25, Issue 4, pages 1167-1173. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/039463201202500435
  14. Biotin (2020). Medline Plus. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/313.html
  15. Ablon, G. (2015). A 3-Month, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study Evaluating the Ability of an Extra-Strength Marine Protein Supplement to Promote Hair Growth and Decrease Shedding in Women with Self-Perceived Thinning Hair. Dermatology Research and Practice. Retrieved from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/drp/2015/841570/
  16. Khan, Q., Fabian, C., (2010, March). How I Treat Vitamin D Deficiency. Journal of Oncology Practice, 6(2):97-101. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835491/
  17. Trueb, R., (2003). Association between smoking and hair loss: another opportunity for health education against smoking? National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12673073/
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Knox Beasley, MD

Dr. Knox Beasley is a board certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss. He completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and subsequently attended medical school at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. 

Dr. Beasley first began doing telemedicine during his dermatology residency in 2013 with the military, helping to diagnose dermatologic conditions in soldiers all over the world. 

Dr. Beasley is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Originally from Nashville, TN, Dr. Beasley currently lives in North Carolina and enjoys spending time outdoors (with sunscreen of course) with his wife and two children in his spare time. 

Education

Training

Certifications

Publications

Read more