Actress Ricki Lake revealed her newly-shaved head in an emotional post about “struggling with hair loss” on Instagram Wednesday.

“I am not sick. (THANK GOD.) I am not having a mid-life crisis,” Lake, who is best known for starring as Tracy Turnblad in the 1988 film “Hairspray” and is credited with being the youngest person to host a syndicated talk show, wrote. “Nor am I having a mental breakdown, though I have been suffering.”

Lake said despite not disclosing her pain to her therapist or anyone else in her life beforehand, she was finally ready to “share” her “secret’: that hair loss has been a source of depression for most of her adult life.

“It has been debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, lonely, all the things,” Lake, 51, wrote. “There have been a few times where I have even felt suicidal over it.”

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Liberated and Free, Me. First things first, I am not sick. (THANK GOD.) I am not having a mid-life crisis. nor am I having a mental breakdown, though I have been suffering. Suffering mostly in silence off and on for almost 30 years. AND I am finally ready to share my secret. Deep breath Ricki”¦. Here goes”¦.. I have been struggling with hair loss for most of my adult life. It has been debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, lonely, all the things. There have been a few times where I have even felt suicidal over it. Almost no one in my life knew the level of deep pain and trauma I was experiencing. Not even my therapist/s over the years knew my truth. I know that by sharing my truth, I will be striking a chord with so so many women and men. I am not alone in this and my goal is to help others while at the same time unshackle myself from this quiet hell I have been living in. Ever since I played Tracy Turnblad in the original Hairspray back in 1988 and they triple-processed and teased my then healthy virgin hair every 2 weeks during filming, my hair was never the same. (Yes, that was all my own hair in the film.) From Hairspray to Hairless. 🙁 In my case, I believe my hair loss was due to many factors, yo-yo dieting, hormonal birth control, radical weight fluctuations over the years, my pregnancies, genetics, stress, and hair dyes and extensions. Working as talent on various shows and movies, whether DWTS or my talk show, also took its toll on my fine hair. I got used to wearing extensions, really just over the last decade. All different kinds, tried them all, the ones that are glued on, the tape-ins, the clip ins, and then into a total hair system that I hated, and finally to a unique solution that really did work pretty well for me for the last 4 or 5 years. I tried wigs on a few occasions but never could get used to them. It all felt fake and I was super self-conscious and uncomfortable. I”™ve been to many doctors, gotten steroid shots in my head, taking all the supplements and then some. My hair would recover and then shed again. It was maddening. To read more: please go to my Facebook page. ❤️

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About one-third of women experience hair loss — also known as alopecia — at some time in their lives. According to Harvard Medical School, not only can such hair loss have a greater effect on women than men because it’s “less socially acceptable for them,” but it can also “severely affect” a women’s quality of life and emotional health.

Lake mainly attributes her hair loss to her time starring in “Hairspray,” when her “healthy virgin hair” was triple-processed and teased regularly, but hair loss among women can also be genetic or spurred by pregnancy, thyroid disorders, anemia, autoimmune disorders, and other conditions. The actress also believes other factors may have played a role in her hair loss, including stress, hormonal birth control, and yo-yo dieting.

In her attempt to curtail and disguise the hair loss, Lake said she tried using hair extensions and wigs as a temporary solution. She has also visited doctors, gotten shots and taken supplements, but she said her hair continued to shed and that she “became a slave to this maintenance schedule.” Now that a new year has begun, however, Lake said she felt inspired to share her story with others and buzz her hair short as an act of reclamation.

“I am liberated. I am free. I am releasing and letting go,” Lake wrote. “I will on occasion choose to wear hair, but now it is for fun, not because I am hiding anything. I am so done with hiding.”

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