People with alopecia areata are 30-38% more likely to have a diagnosis of depression than non-sufferers.
The form of hair loss most often occurs in patches on the scalp, but can result in total hair loss on the scalp and body.
Due to the condition’s visibility, the study, by Momentum Data and Pfizer, aimed to find out if people with alopecia areata were more likely to have anxiety and depression.
Using a UK database of 5,435 adults with a new diagnosis of alopecia areata, the study followed the individuals in the two years following diagnosis and compared the results to 21,740 people of the same age and sex without alopecia.
Not only were those with alopecia more likely to have a diagnosis of depression, they were 33% more likely to have anxiety.
Additionally, those with alopecia areata were 56% more likely to have taken time off work and 82% more likely to be unemployed than their counterparts without the condition.
The researchers hope their results will help guide care for people with alopecia with a view to increased psychological support.
The study, 'The associated burden of mental health conditions in alopecia areata: a population-based study in UK primary care', by Macbeth et al, was published in the British Journal of Dermatology.