Mayo Clinic Offers New Genetic Test to Help Manage Treatment fo...

Full story: World of Psychology

Mayo Clinic is offering a new genetic test to help physicians identify patients who are likely to have side effects from drugs commonly used to treat depression.
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1 - 20 of 35 Comments Last updated Jan 30, 2014
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Annette

Riverside, RI

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#1
Jul 26, 2006
 
I am a 46 year young female and I was on Lexapro for only 1-month and have lost 60-70% of my hair. I have bald spots on both sides of my head, on top of my head, the back and underneath. I am now forced to wear a wig! My Doctor and Pharmicist did not know about this side effect. It is devestating, embarrassing, and has made my self-esteem totaly void. This is something that should never have happened if I and my Doctor had been informed about this side effect.
Leper

Dublin, Ireland

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#2
Apr 19, 2007
 

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Most of the anti-depressants on the market now have side-effects which are potentially worse than the ailment they were designed to handle.

The best advice for anyone wanting to go on anti-depressants:

DON'T.

Since: Feb 07

United States

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#3
Apr 19, 2007
 

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nah leper.
that's ridiculous.

95% on SSRIs are ok my brother.
just because you are in the 5% don't take it out on others because of your bitterness and arrogance.

annette, hair loss is not being caused by the lex. it's probably stress. stress and poor diet. and, you being a women your depression could be part of a hormone imbalance which also causes hair loss. lex definitely does not cause hair loss.
DetroitRockCity

Royal Oak, MI

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#4
Apr 19, 2007
 
Sounds like you have stress related alopecia.
Ezin

UK

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#5
Apr 19, 2007
 

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I'm afraid that SSRIs can have hair loss effects. Hairdressers tend to be well aware of them (that's how some people make the initial connection, because their stylist/barber has asked SPECIFICALLY if they are on an SSRI A/D).

Apparently if you've got blond(e) hair, hairdressers report a characteristic green tinge indicating their customer is on an SSRI. A little unnerving that one's hairdressers are more informed than one's doctors, but not unusual in respect with this class of drugs.

Hair loss on this class of drugs is documented, and there are lots of individual reports to back it up.

Not only does it occur on-drug, it can affect people in withdrawal too.

It's clearly listed as an adverse side-effect on the lexapro drug sheet, under skin and appendage disorders - infrequent: alopecia (hair loss).

And it's been known about for well over a decade e.g.

From the Canadian Psychiatric Association:
“Hair Loss Associated with Sertraline Treatment

Dear Editor:

Hair loss is a common adverse event with chemotherapeutic agents. Although not a common side effect, it can also be associated with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants. There have been reports of hair loss associated with fluoxetine (1–3),
fluvoxamine (4), nefazodone (5), paroxetine (6,7) and sertraline (8).
By 1994 Eli Lilly, the manufacturers of fluoxetine, had reported on 725 cases of hair loss. For patients identified by sex, 540 were women and 73 were men (9). In 1998 Solvay Pharma, the manufacturer of
fluvoxamine, reported a hair-loss incidence of 0.02%, and sertraline’s
manufacturer, Pfizer, reported an incidence of 1.0%(10). Wheatley
reports that seven patients experienced hair loss during the first three years of the marketing of paroxetine in the United Kingdom. This included at least four female patients and one male patient (6). Hair loss onset seems to vary from a few days to months and appears to discontinue on cessation of the medication or switching to a different SSRI.

Human hair follicles have two primary cyclical phases: the anagen (growth) and telogen (resting) phase. The telogen phase lasts approximately three months and culminates in the shedding of the hair
shaft. It is thought that most psychotropic medications that cause hair loss affect the telogen phase of the hair cycle (10). However, hair loss with one antidepressant will not necessarily reoccur with a different one, even of the same class (5,8)."

...however, please note the disparity between the above article, and the many individual accounts of people whose hair started falling out when they withdrew from the drugs (but was ok when on them).
Birdie

Québec, Canada

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#6
Apr 20, 2007
 
I read about this too. Hair loss can be a side effect for all sorts of drugs... Good news is that it will grow back. Seems your body adjusts back to normal hair growth/shedding cycle.
Birdie

Québec, Canada

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#7
Apr 20, 2007
 
Sorry -- I meant that your body will probably adjust back to its normal hair growth/shedding cycle once you are off the drug.
Shannon

Exeter, NH

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#8
Jun 2, 2007
 

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Annette-I am experiencing the same thing! I have been on Lexapro for only 3months and I am developing bald spots on both sides of my forehead. I lose a ton of hair in the shower and now have the concrete evidence to switch drugs, thanks to you.
Mae

Madison, NJ

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#9
May 2, 2008
 
My 82 year old mother has been experiencing extreme hair loss and I have been researching the few prescriptions that she takes. I thought it would be thyroid related, but the tests were normal. She is on Lexapro, and from what I am reading here, many women have had clumps of hair falling out. I will make sure she goes off it to see if this is the culprit. I had no idea the antidepressants can cause hair loss.
Christine

Trabuco Canyon, CA

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#10
Jul 25, 2008
 
I'm on Lexapro and everytime I wash my hair I pull out some good size clumps. I think I'm going to try a different medication.
TFischer

South Vienna, OH

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#11
Aug 4, 2008
 
Yes indeed SSRI class drugs DO cause hair loss. My mail order pharmacy changed my generic Paxil, and my hair is falling out in clumps. I hate to whip a dead horse, but talk to your doctor before you just "stop" taking your SSRI. If you are losing hair, your body is VERY sensitive, you will need to WEAN yourself off meds. And, you can have your doc refer you to a dermatologist who specializes in hair loss. You may be able to buy a topical "something" to stop the loss while your body adjusts off the meds.
Dana K

Merrick, NY

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#12
Aug 5, 2008
 
Unfortunately hair loss is just one of many side effects of SSRI. It sound ridiculous perhaps, but this is not the scariest side effect Lexarpo.
http://www.depression.medgrip.com
Nancy Clark

Brookville, PA

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#14
Jan 11, 2009
 
Have been going crazy trying to figure out why my head has painful sores and is thin! Have been on lex for 3 years now. Thought maybe it was shingles i had from the past. Finally had a culture done, it was not shingles. So now am going to a dermotologist soon. Now I am wondering if yet another change in hormones, hair dye and lexapro? Anyone have head sores that come and go all the time? Am afraid to ween off the lex, as I colapsed at work 3 years ago, they said I had very little serotonin levels and put me on lex. It helped and it didn't, the side affects are always there. Feel like my stomach is on fire, my scalp hurts and burns, stiff joints and my neck hurts and burns.
sara b

Pittsburgh, PA

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#15
Feb 3, 2009
 
I was on lexapro for two years. I noticed during that time a lot of hair in the shower and on the bathroom floor. It wasn't until close to the two year mark of taking the lexapro that my hair felt super thin. At that point I started weaning off of the medication which was a nightmare and took months. I've been off of the lexapro for four months now and am still waiting for my hair to grow back. I've lost approximately 50% of it and have bald spots on both sides of my head behind my temples. If I would have known about this side effect I would have never taken lexapro. Its a shame too because I felt great on it. It really worked wonders for me. Has anyone had experience with losing hair on lexapro and then growing it back after discontinuation? I'm just wondering how long it will take to start growing back.
diane

Trumbull, CT

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#16
Apr 9, 2009
 
I was on lex for about 6 weeks and my hair has been falling out alot when i take a shower i can see my hands full of hair after i shampoo. Also the hair on the top of my head is breaking off. Lex was working well but after my hair thinning it was causing me more anxiety and i switched.
Roger

Panama City, Panama

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#17
Sep 30, 2009
 
I've been on lexapro for 2 years and my hair is falling like rain. I feel great with lexapro and when I tried to get off it to regain my hair, my depression started to grow again. So in order to avoid my depression coming back again my Doc recomended me starting propecia (finasteride 1mg) in addition to lexapro. Has anyone tried this or anyone knows if this works?
kat

Asheville, NC

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#18
Nov 30, 2009
 
I have been on Lexapro for 5 months. I have been noticing a brush full of hairs every time I brush my hair. The amount seems to be continually increasing so I am currently weaning myself off the Lexapro. I am down to 1/4 of a 10 mg pill daily. My hair is so thin now that I will have to cut it short. I sure hope it grows back after the Lexapro is out of my system! I liked the drug a lot , although I slept in every morning and stayed up until 3 every night! But no anxiety .....that was until the hairloss started! Oh and I gained 10 lbs. I sure would like to blame that on the Lexapro as well.
Pascal

United States

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#19
Jan 24, 2010
 
There have been well documented, double-blind studies (check Med Line) that directly relate initial and increased depressive symptoms, in some patients, occuring with administration of Propecia (finasteride),("Roger's " post above). Many physicians are unaware of these studies.
kat

Asheville, NC

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#20
Feb 15, 2010
 
Nancy Clark wrote:
Have been going crazy trying to figure out why my head has painful sores and is thin! Have been on lex for 3 years now. Thought maybe it was shingles i had from the past. Finally had a culture done, it was not shingles. So now am going to a dermotologist soon. Now I am wondering if yet another change in hormones, hair dye and lexapro? Anyone have head sores that come and go all the time? Am afraid to ween off the lex, as I colapsed at work 3 years ago, they said I had very little serotonin levels and put me on lex. It helped and it didn't, the side affects are always there. Feel like my stomach is on fire, my scalp hurts and burns, stiff joints and my neck hurts and burns.
to Nancy: I too had painful head/scalp sores. But when my hair started falling out at the root I started researching. I quickly determined that I needed to discontinue Lexapro and started weaning my self off....3/4 tablet for a week 1/2 for the next week and so on. The scalp condition healed almost immediately but 3 months later my hair is still falling out. Dont know if it was a result of the scalp condition that Lexapro caused or a different result of Lexapro. But I definately fell Lexapro is the culprit and I never had such a reaction with any other ssri. Now I will stay away from all of them as long as I am able too! Good Luck to all trying to quit, kat
Jen

Auckland, New Zealand

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#22
Aug 4, 2011
 
I am in the same position as you. Dr diagnosed me with shingles. Have been treating it for months with no success. Only just put 2 and 2 together and thought of my anti-depressent. Had spots on my head some like blisters others like white pimple. Head felt like it was on fire, Itchy and extremely sensitive. Patches have continued to fall out from the top, sides and back. It got so bad i had to shave my long hair off. Patches still aren't filling in but can see a slight growth of very fine hair so I am hopeful.

This is not good enough and needs to be explained as a side effect

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