How Stress Causes Hair Loss
Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Noticed more hairs on your brush, pillow or around the shower drain than normal? Dealing with hair loss is never fun, especially when youre not sure whats causing it.
Most male hair loss results from androgenic alopecia, or male pattern baldness a form of hair loss triggered by a genetic sensitivity to DHT.
However, its also possible for a range of other factors to cause and contribute to hair loss.
One of these factors is emotional stress. If youre feeling overly stressed due to work, your personal life or anything else, its possible that this stress could contribute either tomild hair thinning, or significant hair loss.
Below, weve explained how and why stress can cause you to lose hair. Weve also looked at a range of treatment options that can help you regrow any hair you lose due to stress.
Stress Can Cause Temporary Hair Shedding
Even if you never developed a fever or COVID-19, you may still see hair shedding. Emotional stress can also force more hairs than normal into the shedding phase. And who isnt feeling more stressed and anxious during the pandemic?
Again, the hair shedding begins about two to three months after the stress starts.
While seeing your hair fall out in clumps can add to your stress, its important to try to de-stress. Only when the stress ends will the excessive hair shedding stop.
Anxiety And Hair Loss Thinning Balding Bald Spots:
Common anxiety related hair loss descriptions:
- You notice your hair is thinning
- You notice your hair is falling out in clumps
- You notice you are getting some bald spots
- It seems your hair is falling out and/or thinning more than normal
- It seems you are going bald
- It looks like you are losing hair on your head and/or other spots on the body
- You notice there is more hair in your comb, brush, or in the tub or shower
- You fear you are going bald because of your anxiety
- You also notice an increase in the amount of hair coming out when you comb or brush your hair, when washing or rubbing your skin, or that you are pulling out clumps of hair at a time
You can experience hair loss on one area of the head only, many areas of the head, and the entire head. You can experience hair loss on any other part of the body, as well.
Hair loss can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you may experience hair loss, thinning, and balding once in a while and not that often, experience it off and on, or experience hair loss all the time.
Hair loss may precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.
Hair loss can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur out of the blue and for no apparent reason.
Hair loss can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. For example, hair loss can be mildly, moderately, or greatly noticeable.
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Is There A Way To Prevent Telogen Effluvium
Unfortunately, there is no proven way to prevent or stop an episode of telogen effluvium, and it should resolve on its own with time.
However, there are a few things that may help to support overall hair health. Eat a balanced diet, and in particular, consume an adequate amount of protein . Hair is made up of primarily protein , so its no surprise that sufficient protein is vital to maintain and grow hair. Also, be sure to avoid very tight hairstyles, excessive heat styling, or chemical-based treatments, as these can contribute to hair loss or cause hair breakage.
Tending to emotional health and practicing coping strategies, like meditation, may also be helpful to reduce the impact of a stressor.
If you hair loss is chronic, patchy, or associated with redness, itching or pain, seek medical care from a dermatologist.
Relax And Reduce Stress To Help Your Hair Grow
You may not know it, but stress affects your health in a number of different ways. It can zap your energy, make you feel physically ill, and even cause your hair to fall out.
Thats right, stress can play a role in contributing to thinning hair. On its own, stress-related hair loss is usually temporary and may grow back over time.
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Women And Hair Loss: Coping Tips
Losing your crowning glory can be particularly difficult for women. But there are ways to cope.
Losing your hair as a woman, especially if you’re young or at a vulnerable time in your life, can badly affect your confidence.
Hair loss, known medically as alopecia, is fairly common. It’s estimated, for instance, that around 40% of women aged 70 years or over experience female-pattern baldness the most common type of hair loss, which is thought to be inherited.
Does Stress Increase Dht
Stress causes the increase of androgens thereby, increasing the secretion of hair-loss related chemical called DHT .
Hair loss related to stress usually falls in the categories of telogen effluvium, trichotillomania and alopecia. Topical medications, good diet, stress management and a good hair care routine restores hair loss caused due to stress.
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Stress And Hair Loss: The Basics
Contrary to popular belief, stress is not linked to male pattern baldness the form of hair loss that causes you to permanently lose hair around your hairline, temples and the crown of your scalp.
However, stress can trigger and potentially worsen a form of temporary hair loss called telogen effluvium.
Telogen effluvium affects your hair by interrupting the natural hair growth cycle.
Normally, there are four different growth phases during the hair cycle as it grows from below the skin to its full length, then falls out to be replaced by a new hair:
The first phase is the anagen phase, during which the hair grows to its full length.
The second phase is the catagen phase, during which the old, fully grown hair follicle detaches from the skin.
The third phase is the telogen phase, also known as the resting phase, during which a new hair starts to grow from the follicle to replace the old one.
The fourth phase is the exogen phase, during which the old hair falls out, with the new hair growing in its place.
Just like your skin and nails, your hair is constantly undergoing this growth cycle. Weve covered each phase of the hair growth cycle in more detail in our guide to the hair growth process.
Each phase of the hair growth cycle varies in length. Hairs usually stay in the anagen phase for up to six years during which they grow to their full length.
About 90 percent of your hairs are in the anagen phase at any time, meaning that most of your hair is constantly growing.
Hair Loss Due To Hormones: Will It Grow Back
Hair loss due to hormones is a reality for many people after menopause as well as during pregnancy. But will it grow back? The answer is yes, but there are also things that can help the body along.
Wash hair regularly with a mild shampoo. Treat hair gently. Dont comb or brush hair when its wet. Using the fingers to detangle is a gentler option. Putting hair up in a tight bun or ponytail can cause added stress on the hair and its follicles.
Finally, try to limit the use of hair dryers or irons on hair, as they can dry and damage it.
Here are five tips to prevent hair loss during the menopausal transition and after menopause:
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Hair Loss Reversed In Alopecia Areata Sufferers
Scientists have completely reversed hair loss in three people by giving them a drug normally used to treat bone marrow disorders.
The patients had alopecia areata a condition that can cause severe, patchy baldness that is difficult to treat.
But after five months of taking the medication ruxolitinib, all three saw total hair re-growth.
The findings from Columbia University Medical Center are published in the journal Nature Medicine.
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How Effective Is Finasteride At Treating Hair Loss In Men
The effectiveness of Finasteride often depends on the length of time it is taken, but the evidence available suggests that 90% of men who use it see an improvement, while two thirds will benefit from renewed hair growth.
Finasteride is particularly effective in men who are experiencing mild or moderate hair loss.
You will probably have to take Finasteride for at least 4 months before you see any effect, and if you stop taking it the hair loss process will resume.
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How Is Hereditary Hair Loss Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask you questions about your hair loss, including the pattern of your hair loss and whether you have any other medical conditions. Your doctor will also examine your hair. No tests are needed to diagnose hereditary hair loss, but blood tests may be done to rule out other conditions that can cause hair loss.
Can Hair Loss Cause Depression
If you have read so far, you know that anxiety and depression can contribute to hair loss, but it can also cause anxiety and depression, so what comes first? Is it a vicious cycle that keeps on repeating?
Hair loss is connected to a decrease in self-esteem and feelings of attractiveness. Especially in women, as it was found that about 40% of women with alopecia have had problems in their marriage as a result. This is because hair is seen as a sign of femininity and sexuality in women. The only way to stop this cycle is to see a professional and determine the actual cause and get help. Moreover, going to a stylist to get a new hairstyle can help boost your confidence as well.
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Why Does My Hair Fall Out During Menopause
If your hair is thinning or falling out during perimenopause or after menopause, the first thing you need to do is identify the cause. EFFLUVIUM is responsible for 80% of perimenopause and postmenopausal hair loss.
How to grow hair backHow I regrew my hair naturally? Another way to grow hair naturally is to massage your scalp. Massage increases blood flow, allowing nutrients to enter the hair follicles. Massaging with oil, such as olive oil, has the added benefit of moisturizing the area.How can I get my hair back naturally?10 Tips for Natural Hair Growth Scalp massage can help restore hair growth and can be used with hair oils and face masks
Other Hair Loss Factors
There are other factors that can also cause hair loss, including but not limited to:
- Nervous habits
- Pregnancy, childbirth, and birth control pill usage
If your hair is thinning, or youre experiencing baldness and it seems abnormal its a good idea to see your doctor in order to determine the cause.
Also, if youre concerned that stress is the culprit, its always a good idea to cut down on lifestyle stress and find some effective coping techniques for the stress that remains. Specifically, the following resources can help.
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Hair Appliances Can Leave Hair Brittle
Not all forms of loss of hair are due to loss of the entire strand of hair. Some forms may actually result from hair damage that causes strands of hair to break. Certain hair appliances that use high heat to help style your hair can lead to damaged hair and breakage, which can look like baldness.
Damaging hair appliances that cause sudden hair loss include blow-dryers, flat irons, curling irons, and other devices that apply heat to your hair. These hot hair appliances cause the most damage to your hair when you use them on wet hair, since they actually boil the water in your hair shaft, leaving your hair brittle.
Can Hormone Imbalance Cause Hair Loss
A2020 studypublished in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences reveals thatboth the hair cycle and hair follicle structure are highly affected by hormone levels.
Can hormone imbalance cause hair loss?
In fact, an imbalance of hormones is the most common cause of hair loss in both men and women.
And in both sexes, the incidence of hair loss increases with age.
If you are concerned about current or future hair loss,Nutrition Response Testingat HealthierU can identify any hormonal imbalance you may have and determine the exact lifestyle and dietary changes you need to make to restore your hair growth.
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Sex Hormones Not Just For Reproduction
PREGNANCY: Remember all that hair that you didnt lose when you were pregnant? I loved my luxurious pregnancy hair so strong, thick and shiny. It wasnt me who had the pregnancy glow, it was my hair! Pregnancy increases the number of hair follicles in the anagen phase. The enhanced supply of estradiol and progesterone in pregnancy are particularly nurturing to hair, expanding the growth phase and preventing shedding. Little did I know that at about 3 months postpartum, when my hormones were trying to re-equilibrate themselves and adjust to a new normal, my hair would all come out in clumps, washing down the drain, falling out so fast it was a seeming miracle any of it actually remained attached to my head.
Hair changes in pregnancy are common however, every woman is different and therefore hair changes are all individual. If hair loss is experienced in the postpartum period, most women will experience a full recovery, although the process may be slow.
MENOPAUSE: Along those lines, when the levels of estradiol and progesterone fall in menopause, hot flashes and night sweats are not the only symptoms that seemingly appear out of nowhere. What many women are unaware of and unprepared for is the fact that they may also find themselves facing hair thinning. And just like the postpartum hair loss, it has everything to do with hormones. However, unlike the postpartum period, hair loss in menopause is irreversible, unless hormone replacement therapy is introduced.
How To Treat Stress
Because telogen effluvium has a variety of potential causes, theres no one hair loss treatment that works for everyone.
If your hair loss is caused by a one-off stressful or traumatic event, such as a physical accident, surgery or psychologically stressful event, your hair will typically grow back on its own over the course of several months.
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