Anorexia Nervosa is one of the deadliest mental disorders. It is characterized by extremely low body weight relative to height, and either an avoidance of food intake or a cycle of binging/purging. Sufferers may have a distorted view of their own bodies, which leads them to believe they are heavier than they really are. Kidney failure, impaired brain function and complications due to reintroducing nutrition are all potentially fatal side effects of this illness. If you, or one of your loved ones, is struggling with an eating disorder, hair loss may be one of the tell-tale signs of an escalating illness.
What is the Connection Between Anorexia and Hair Loss?
Anorexia can cause hair loss through the loss of vital nutrients to the scalp. The growth phase of hair growth can be disrupted by a direct lack of nutrients, organ under-performance, or gastric issues. The healthy hair growth cycle is disrupted and ceases to grow effectively. It may jump to the end of the follicle lifespan where the hairs shed. In this scenario, the hair is falling out faster than it can grow, causing thinning and bald spots. If you are noticing hair loss and disruption of normal eating patterns in someone you love, do not hesitate to have an uncomfortable conversation. It may save their life.
Can Hair Loss Caused by an Eating Disorder be Overcome?
Recovery from an eating disorder can be very difficult, emotionally. If the illness was triggered by societal pressures and unrealistic beauty ideals, hair loss can be a blow that is hard to overcome. A strong connection with a mental health professional experienced with eating disorders is vital. Recovery may be difficult, but with help, it is attainable. The good news regarding hair loss is that in many cases, once balance has been restored to a patient’s diet, their hair begins to regrow. It may be that full regrowth and volume returns. In some cases, however, so much damage has been done that intervention may be needed. If this is the case for you, a consultation with a hair restoration specialist will be very helpful in determining what recovery is possible. This consultation is free and performed by our Medical Director, Daniel A. Danyo. He is certified through the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgeons and can provide a personalized treatment plan, just for you.
If you are noticing signs of Anorexia in yourself or a loved one, please reach out to the National Eating Disorders Helpline at 800-931-2237.
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