Ricki Lake shows off shaved head after decades-long hair loss left her 'suffering in silence'

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Ricki Lake is beginning the new year feeling "liberated and free" after revealing a secret to the world she had kept hidden for years.

The former talk show host, 51, took to her Instagram on Wednesday to reveal a series of photos showing off her freshly shaved head. Lake confessed the shave was a result of suffering from hair loss for decades.

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"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," she captioned a photo of herself smiling with a shaved head. "Suffering mostly in silence off and on for almost 30 years. AND I am finally ready to share my secret."

The actress admitted her hair loss left her depressed, and at times, even suicidal.

"Here goes….I have been struggling with hair loss for most of my adult life," Lake continued in the caption. "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.

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"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."

Lake said she believes her hair loss began when she played Tracy Turnblad in the original "Hairspray" in 1988.

"They triple-processed and teased my then healthy virgin hair every 2 weeks during filming," she explained. "My hair was never the same. (Yes, that was all my own hair in the film.) From Hairspray to Hairless."

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However, Lake listed off a number of other factors she believes contributed to the problem.

"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," she continued. "Working as talent on various shows and movies, whether DWTS or my talk show, also took its toll on my fine hair."

Lake revealed she tried dozens of solutions, including extensions of all kinds and wigs that left her feeling "self-conscious and uncomfortable." She also revealed she had taken supplements and underwent steroid shots to no avail.

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The "Hairspray" star's confession has received a ton of praise from her followers.

"You are soooo beautiful with or without hair…!!! Truly truly truly!!!! It's in your eyes, your smile, your words, your infectious energy!!!!! Loving you!!!!" celebrity dog trainer Tamar Geller wrote.

"Beautiful u," Rosie O'Donnell wrote along with a rock-and-roll emoji.

"You're so courageous and you look wonderful!!!" another user wrote.

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Days before her revelation, Lake shared an inspiring message to her nearly 160,000 social media followers.

"2020, I'm ready for you. Ready to see where the wind will take me. #surrender #trust #truth"

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