Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
So, your healthcare provider is thinking about prescribing you trazodone to help treat some of your symptoms of depression. It makes sense — millions of people use this popular antidepressant every year to help them with theirs. But like all medications, Trazodone comes with a risk of side effects. Is hair loss one of them? Does trazodone cause hair loss?
It may seem like a silly question — the idea that an oral medication for your brain could have an unintended effect on your hair. But it’s not that farfetched.
If you’ve started taking trazodone and are noticing some thinning around your temples or crown, you may be experiencing one of the rarer side effects of trazodone.
But before we dig into that, let’s cover some basics.
Nowadays, trazodone is typically used off-label to treat insomnia and sleep disturbances. A systematic review done in 2017 determined that in low doses, trazodone is an effective way to treat insomnia.
Trazodone comes in tablet form and people who are prescribed it usually start at a lower dose that is adjusted and optimized over time by their healthcare provider.
We’ll talk a little more about some of trazodone’s common side effects shortly, but rght now, we’re wondering about trazodone and hair loss.
Trazodone can lead to hair loss, but it’s a very rare side effect.
Research has shown that trazodone may lead to hair loss only in very rare instances. In fact, this research showed there’s a much higher likelihood of hair loss with other medications used to treat mental illnesses — such as lithium — over trazodone.
If you’re one of the rare people that’s affected by trazodone-induced hair loss, it means you’re dealing with something called telogen effluvium, a type of diffuse hair loss characterized by the excessive, non-scarring shedding of hair.
When your hair grows, it goes through three phases. Essentially, telogen effluvium occurs when something — trauma, stress or even medication — shortens the length of your hair’s telogen phase (or “resting phase”), prompting hair to fall out before it’s supposed to.
While hair loss from trazodone is exceptionally rare, it does come with an array of other side effects that you should be aware of.
Some of the more common side effects of trazodone include:
Weight gain or weight loss
There are a few more serious side effects, too. They include chest pain, a fast heart rate, loss of consciousness, seizures, blood pressure issues, unusual breathing and more. If you notice any of these things, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
If you notice that you’re losing hair and suspect it’s due to trazodone, do not stop taking your medication. If you quit cold turkey, it could cause you to experience withdrawal symptoms.
Instead, contact your healthcare provider.
They’ll be able to help you sort out why you’re losing your hair, and if they determine it is because of trazodone, they’ll work with you to get you off the medication.
Any time you’re thinking about going off of antidepressant medications, you should seek medical advice before you do. You should also never alter the dosage on your own. Again, if you suddenly stop taking your medication or alter your dosage, you may notice withdrawal symptoms.
If you’re actually experiencing telogen effluvium as a side effect of trazodone, there’s good news: telogen effluvium is usually never permanent and typically resolves itself once the thing causing your hair loss is stopped or removed.
The bad news is that it’ll mean having to find a new antidepressant medication.
Once you and your healthcare provider taper you off the medication and find an appropriate alternative, your hair should start to regrow on its own.
That said, if you’d like to help your hair grow back more quickly, there are several things you and your provider can discuss.
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For the type of hair loss that medications can cause, your healthcare provider may suggest minoxidil.
Minoxidil comes as both an oral and topical application. Topical minoxidil has gained approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a hair loss treatment, but oral minoxidil, although popular, hasn’t received its approval yet.
A 2019 review of topical minoxidil found that the medication improved hair growth in those with hair loss.
At the end of the 50 weeks, hair mass (and caliber) had increased by 30 percent in the group that used the saw palmetto. And in a group that used saw palmetto and an oral gelatin cystine supplement saw an increase of 50 percent.
While more research needs to be done, those stats are clearly promising.
Biotin, a B vitamin that is thought to encourage healthy hair in people who are biotin-deficient, is found in foods like eggs, milk and bananas. It is also available in supplement form.
Chances are, you know smoking is bad for your health and can lead to cancer, but researchers have also discovered that there’s a link between smoking and hair loss.
Pollution from smoke can damage strands. In addition to this, smoking can damage the DNA of your hair follicles.
Generic for Rogaine®, this FDA-approved over-the-counter version of topical minoxidil is used for regrowth on the crown of the head.
This is the FDA-approved dynamic duo. When used together, men saw better results in clinical trials compared to using either alone.
If you’re looking for something effective but don’t want too many steps in your routine, this once-a-day pill could be right for you.
Clinically proven to regrow hair in 3-6 months, no pills required.
Trazodone is a medication that can be used to treat major depressive disorder. Perhaps even more commonly, it is used to treat sleep issues.
Common side effects include constipation, weight gain or loss, nausea and more.
A very rare side effect is hair loss — like, really rare. That said, it can occur.
Thankfully, this type of hair loss can be addressed and rectified through medications like minoxidil, supplements and lifestyle changes.
If you’d like to discuss hair loss with a healthcare professional, it may be time to schedule an online consultation.