Alopecia areata (AA) patients face post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in relation to hair loss, according to a study published in Skin Appendage Disorders.
Researchers performed a cross-sectional survey using the National Alopecia Areata Foundation’s (NAAF) email list. Participants were asked to complete the PTSD Checklist for the DSM-5 (PCL-5). The full analysis consisted of 1,449 participants.
The results showed that 33.9% of respondents screened positively for PTSD, with an average score of 48.8 ± 12.3 on the PCL-5 in participants who screened positively. The researchers noted that people with alopecia totalis have the highest average PCL-5 score of 30.1 ± 19.2, followed by participants with alopecia universalis with an average score of 26.0 ± 19.9, and lastly patchy AA with an average score of 24.5 ± 18.3 (p = 0.003). Specifically, the investigators noted that feelings of intrusion and avoidance were the predominant reported symptoms. Notably, PTSD symptoms were significantly higher in respondents who were younger and identified as Black or African American and Hispanic when compared to white and non-Hispanic individuals.
“These findings identify that one in 3 patients with AA in this cohort meet the screening criteria for PTSD specifically relating to their hair loss experience. These results further highlight the mental health comorbidities associated with AA and emphasize that these symptoms may persist even after hair regrowth. Limitations include the nonrandomized NAAF population with most participants being white females. Future studies should confirm these findings in other patient populations. Finally, respondent’s baseline mental health was not assessed; therefore, a causal relationship between AA and PTSD cannot be deduced,” the researchers concluded.