Health

What is the link between thoughts of suicide and hair loss?

What is the link between thoughts of suicide and hair loss? pixabay Images

Young men using Propecia may have a better risk of psychological side effects.
Researchers in Boston found that reports of those negative drug side effects among men ages 45 or younger rose significantly after 2012.
The results of the new study mirror the findings of a smaller 2015 study employing a different adverse drug event database.
Young men using the hair loss drug finasteride, sold under brand-name Propecia, could also be at higher risk of experincing depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, a replacement study suggests.

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that reports of those negative drug side effects among men ages 45 or younger rose significantly after 2012.

Data for the study came from a World Health Organization database of drug safety reports from over 150 countries.

The study was published Veterans’ Day in JAMA DermatologyTrusted Source.

Strong link between drug and symptoms
The results of the new study mirror the findings of a smaller 2015 study employing a different adverse drug event database.

However, these sorts of studies are less rigorous than a placebo-controlled clinical test therefore the results should be viewed with some caution.

“It is vital to notice that observational studies, like this, cannot establish that finasteride causes these adverse events,” said Shelly Gray, PharmD, a professor at the University of Washington’s School of Pharmacy.

Although researchers found a robust link between the drug and suicidality and psychological symptoms, there are several possible explanations for the results.

There might be a biological explanation for a way the drug causes these symptoms.

Or, men with hair loss, also referred to as alopecia, may produce other factors or health problems that increase their risk of suicidality, depression, or anxiety.

Gray said increased media attention of the drug’s possible side effects may have also resulted in additional men reporting their symptoms.

Additional research is required to completely understand the link between the drug and therefore the symptoms experienced by younger men.

Finasteride was developed to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia, a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate. Its use was later extended to treat male pattern hair loss.

In the new study, researchers identified 356 reports of suicidality, and almost 3,000 reports of other psychological symptoms among men taking finasteride.

Most of those occurred in men who were 45 years or younger, and among those that were taking finasteride for hair loss.

No strong link between the symptoms and therefore the drug were seen in older men taking the drug for an enlarged prostate.

Drug effective for treating prostate enlargement
Dr. Brian Norouzi, a urologist with St. Joseph Hospital in Orange County, California, said finasteride has been a controversial drug for nearly as long as it’s been on the market.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug in 1997.

“Initially, its potential effects on erections scared many patients away, apart from older men or people who had few other nonsurgical options,” he said.

However, finasteride are often an efficient treatment for a few older men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

“It can really help men with super-large prostates, that our office procedures have lower success rates, and for whom more aggressive surgery could be necessary without the drug,” said Norouzi.

When the prostate enlarges, men can have difficulty urinating. By reducing the dimensions of the prostate, finasteride can help men regain the power to urinate without the necessity for surgery.

For treating BPH, finasteride is usually utilized in combination with doxazosin (Cardura), which is during a class of medicine called alpha-blockers.

Given the effectiveness of finasteride in shrinking the prostate, Norouzi said he will still recommend the drug for his patients. But he thinks men should remember of the potential side effects.

“Whether the risks outweigh the advantages is a private determination, as finasteride has also been known to potentially cause male erecticle dysfunction and loss of libido,” said Norouzi. “Still, it’s a commonly used medicine by many patients.”

Gray agreed that men who want to undertake finasteride for hair loss should be told of the risks, especially younger men who appear to be at higher risk of negative side effects.

“Providers should counsel their patients about the likelihood of sexual, physical, and psychological adverse events during treatment,” said Gray.

Some patients still experience these symptoms after they stop using the drug, she said, although physicians aren’t sure why that happens .

If younger men prefer to use the drug for hair loss, they ought to contact their doctor if they experience any side effects, especially thoughts of suicide.

“When a patient is started on finasteride for alopecia, providers should periodically monitor for depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation,” said Gray.

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