Psychotropic Medication and Drug-Related Alopecia

    May 1991 in “Psychosomatics
    Julia K. Warnock
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    TLDR Some psychiatric medications can cause reversible hair loss.
    The document from 1991 reviews literature on alopecia caused by psychotropic medications, highlighting that such hair loss is typically diffuse, nonscarring, and reversible after stopping the medication. Beta-blockers, particularly propranolol, lithium, and anticonvulsants like carbamazepine and valproic acid, are most commonly associated with hair loss, with up to 17% of patients on lithium experiencing hair thinning. Tricyclic antidepressants, amphetamines, verapamil, phenothiazines, and tranylcypromine are also mentioned as potential causes, though less frequently reported. The document notes the challenge in determining the true incidence of drug-induced alopecia due to underreporting and emphasizes the importance of psychiatrists being aware of this side effect to avoid patient noncompliance. It also references specific studies, such as one involving 1000 patients treated with tranylcypromine for severe agitated depressions, to illustrate the psychiatric benefits of these drugs despite their dermatological side effects.
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