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A Therapist Reveals How to Manage Your Haircare Routine When You Have Depression

Struggling with mental health issues doesn’t just mean you’re struggling with mental health issues. When you have depression, it seeps into every facet of your life. Your haircare routine, included.

Dealing with the mental illness takes a lot out of you, which can make it difficult to regularly care for yourself. When we’re dealing with the stress of a global pandemic, seasonal depression, and a cocktail of other mental issues, it’s easy for our haircare routine to fall by the wayside.

In order to better understand how to manage your haircare routine when you have depression, we reached out to Houston-based licensed professional counselor Liz Hughes (@houneedtherapy on Instagram).

Her expert advice will help you take better care of yourself, even at times when your depression is unbearable. Read what Liz had to share below!

How does depression impact your hair?

Depression can affect the hair in a number of ways, many of which don’t seem as if they’re caused by depression.

“Depression can manifest itself in physical and emotional forms and can be expressed differently depending on the individual,” Liz shares. “More commonly, depression can make it challenging for individuals to complete activities of daily living (ADL’s), such as bathing or grooming. This can look like having matted hair, excessive oil in hair from not washing, etc.”

The effects of depression don’t stop there.

“Experiencing these physical symptoms of depression can lead to an increase in negative emotions about oneself, due to the inability to complete a hygiene routine. This can lead to a perpetual cycle of feeling depressed, not being able to engage in routine hygiene—which then leads to feeling worse about oneself, due to not completing hygiene care,” Liz notes.

Brown woman looking at her hair in the mirror
(via Pixieset)

Why is it important to finds ways to take care of your hair?

Liz highlights how your appearance can indicate your struggles with depression.

“Not being able to maintain appropriate hygiene can be one of the first signs a person is struggling with a mental health disorder,” she points out. Many therapists actually document how a client appears in a session, as it can be a sign of how they are coping with their mental health.”

Taking care of yourself is essential. Liz understands it can be difficult to do so when you have depression. Still, she highlights how participating in these activities can lessen the symptoms of depression.

“When a person is struggling with depression, completing a task like taking a shower and styling hair can feel impossible,” she says. “It is important to engage in a hygiene routine for your body and hair in order to increase feelings of self-worth. Most people will find they feel slightly better after doing an activity to care for themselves, even if their depression tells them it’s not worth doing.”

Black woman struggling with her haircare routine due to depression
(via Pixieset)

How can you create a manageable haircare routine when you have depression?

Liz states that the most important part is being gentle with yourself.

“Be kind to yourself! While it’s important to take care of yourself to the best of your ability, depression can make that task really challenging,” she shares. “If that means washing and styling your hair in an all out way, great. If it’s wearing your hair in a messy bun three days in a row, also great. Just make sure to be gentle with yourself and aim to do what you can based on your mental health on that specific day.”

As far as making your haircare routine more manageable, Liz suggests keeping things relatively low-maintenance.

“I would suggest embracing your natural hair style or a hairstyle that is low-maintenance, so that you can complete your hygiene routine in just a few simple steps. Dry shampoo can also be helpful for those days where a shower just isn’t going to happen,” she mentions.

If managing your haircare routine becomes a bit too much to handle, Liz urges you bring it up with your therapist.

“Maintaining our hygiene by grooming and washing our hair is a cultural norm and expected of us in society in the United States. If you are struggling to achieve this because of depression, it could be helpful to bring it up with a licensed mental health therapist. Not being able to achieve this goal on your own could lead to impacts on social life, as maintaining hygiene is generally expected of us by employers, friends, and family.”

White woman struggling to manage her haircare routine due to depression
(via Pixieset)

Not only does depression impact your hair, so does stress. HERE is how stress really affects your strands and what to do about it!

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