Hair Loss Prevention: How To Stop It Falling Out And Thinning With Stress
Causes, prevention and treatment… we speak to an award-winning hair doctor to get some advice on preserving your precious locks
e are living in stressful times.
For some the mask wearing, hand washing, food hoarding and job uncertainty will cause sleepless nights, for others it might trigger, or exacerbate existing, hair loss.
Its well established that hair loss can be related to emotional stress or anxiety, award-winning dermatologist Dr. Serkan Aygin tells the Standard. When youre stressed or anxious, your body produces whats known as the fight or flight response. This is when your body is making extra hormones to prepare it to deal with whatever it thinks of as being a potential threat. This change in your hormone levels can have effects all around your body. When these extra hormones are made, they can affect the growth patterns of the hair follicles on your scalp.
Theres usually about a three-month delay between the stressful event or time period and the moment your hair starts falling out. So anyone feeling the Covid-19 anxiety, might not actually notice any hair loss until the end of summer.
The good news though, is that hair loss due to stress tends to be temporary. Unless theres another underlying medical reason for your hair loss, it should only last for as long as youre going through that particular period of stress or anxiety, says Dr. Aygin, who has treated over 10,000 patients for hair loss at his eponymous specialist hair clinic.
Can Hair Loss Be Reversed
Yes and no. It depends on what type of hair loss youre experiencing.
Some types, like cicatricial alopecia, are permanent, while others that may be caused by stress or a medical condition are temporary. Once the cause has been identified and eliminated, your hair should start growing back.
Generally speaking, if the trigger goes away or whatever caused the injury to the hair follicle, then the hair will recover over a period of four to six months to a year, says Dr. Bergfeld.
The Connection Between Stress And Hair
If youre wondering just how these two go hand in hand, you have cortisol to blame for that. A study showed that cortisol, the stress hormone, is known to affect the function and regulation of the hair follicle. When were stressed, cortisol encourages our hair to exit the anagen phase and prematurely enter the telogen phase, which causes the hair to fall out. This is also known as telogen effluvium.Another interesting factor to point out is that stress as a secondary response to hair loss can have a significant effect. Even if stress isnt the initial inducer of your hair loss, it can lead to the continuation of hair loss. In other words, it becomes a cycle that can feel difficult to escape. Thankfully, with the right methods, its a cycle that can likely be broken. Then, of course, there is trichotillomania. This relates to anyone whos found themselves literally tugging at or pulling their hair strands out during high times of stress. Hair pulling becomes a coping mechanism during uncomfortable situations and dealing with any negative emotions. Since this is a psychological condition, trichotillomania is usually treated through habit reversal training and therapy.
Did you know that stress can result in hair loss? This condition telogen effluvium isnt preventable, but it can be dealt with. Heres how:
But why exactly does this happen and are there ways to prevent and treat it?
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How Can Stress Cause Hair Loss
Many people think that the idea of stress “turning your hair grey” or causing it to fall out is just a joke, but that isn’t true. Stress can legitimately cause you to lose some of your hair, and it’s more common than you think.
It’s called telogen effluvium. It’s the most common type of “diffuse hair loss.”
When your hair grows, it grows in three stages. Those three stages are:
The telogen phase normally lasts for five to six weeks. After this phase, it’s normal for your hair to fall. Most people don’t notice when the telogen phase ends because it’s just normal hair loss.
Telogen effluvium happens when the body is shocked by some kind of stressor. That stressor sends more hair into the telogen phase and keeps them there for longer periods of time. This may be due to corticosterone.
After this, the hair sheds all at once. Because the hair was shocked out of the anagen phase and into the telogen phase, there’s not as much growth to make up for the loss.
It’s difficult to stop hair loss from stress before it occurs because most people don’t know that it’s happening. There are few signs of telogen effluvium before the hair fall starts.
Common stressors that can cause hair loss include:
- Chronic anxiety
- Post-accident or injury stress
Ways To Deal With Stress
THE VAST MAJORITY OF US are really stressed out these days. In fact, it could be said that many of us are so stressed, we feel like tearing our hair out. For some folks, thats more than just a saying. Hair loss and stress do very much go hand-in-hand.
For most healthy adults, its normal to lose on average 50 to 100 strands of hair from your head every day. Were constantly shedding old hairs and growing new ones. But if youre losing a lot more or the amount of hair youre losing seems to suddenly increase around the time that youre dealing with a stressful situation, the two could well be connected.
Types of Stress-Related Hair Loss
There are generally three types of hair-loss related to stress:
Chronic stress-related hair loss.
Chronic Stress-Related Hair Loss
Long-term chronic stress can affect hormone levels in the body, especially cortisol and other stress hormones, says Dr. Patrick C. Angelos, a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon and author of The Science and Art of Hair Restoration: A Patients Guide. In turn, hair loss is affected by those fluctuations in hormone levels, he adds.
This chronic, unmitigated stress can potentially lead to more hair loss than you might get with just your genetics and aging alone, he adds.
Telogen effluvium is a more acute and dramatic type of stress-related hair loss. Indeed, it really is possible to get so stressed that your hair falls out.
Other Causes of Hair Loss
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How Does Stress Cause Hair Loss
When a person feels intense stress whether emotional or physical, the body releases a large amount of adrenaline this transmits a signal to the hair follicles which causes them to enter the telogen phase early, where they stay for three months.
During this phase there is no new hair growth. This results in an uneven hair growth pattern which leads to thinning hair and then hair loss from all over the scalp. It is typical for around 50 per cent of hairs to be affected in cases of Telogen Effluvium and Chronic Telogen Effluvium, also known as Diffuse Thinning.
Stress Related Hair Loss
There are three different types of stress-related hair loss. The first and most common type is Telogen Effluvium when certain follicles stop growing hair. This can happen during the telogen phase , which can cause shedding. This type of hair loss can happen to anyone at any age. This can happen in specific areas of the scalp or just all over. This type of hair loss is not permanent, and it does not cause damage to the hair follicles forever. Another common type of hair loss that may be triggered by stress is Alopecia areata, which is when your immune system attacks the hair follicles. This typically is shown by patches around the scalp but can cause total hair loss. According to Healthline, this type of hair loss affects over six million people in Just the United States. Lastly, there is Trichotillomania, which is a hair-pulling disorder. This is typically directly caused by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Anxiety disorders, or stress. So many people struggle with this and dont even realize it. Many people pull the hair out of their eyebrows, eyelashes, or even their scalp. This disorder typically runs in circles because the condition itself causes more stress. This disorder can affect anyone, but it typically starts in teens and preteens and can be genetic.
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Can Emotional Stress Cause Hair Loss
Ever heard phrases related to hair falling out in reference to someone being really stressed? It turns out this phrase might be more significantly rooted in science than we originally thought
Many people underestimate the effects of stress on the body, brushing it off as a strictly emotional condition. But stress can manifest in the form of serious physical symptoms including increased shedding or hair loss. If youve experienced some form of emotional or physical stress in the last six months, and youve noticed some increased hair shedding or what looks like the beginning of male pattern baldness, theres a chance you could be experiencing stress-induced hair loss.
The Connection Between Stress And Hair Loss
Stress affects our bodies on a daily basis, but not all stress is created equal. Itâs commonly broken down into acute and chronic stress. Think of acute stress as a specific stressful incident: a car accident, an argument with a friend or even a case of COVID-19. Chronic stress is consistent and continuous, often stemming from an accumulation of micro-stressors. Chronic stress might look like overwhelm from the day-to-day demands of work and family, relationship difficulties, or even a case of long COVID, complications from COVID, or general pressure associated with the ongoing pandemic.
In combination, experiences of acute and chronic stress can have a direct impact on your bodyand your hair follicles. When your stress response ramps up, the body produces cortisol, Dr. Kelly Carter, emergency physician and coach at WanderFonder Health & Wellness, told VEGAMOUR.
Cortisolcommonly known as the âstress hormoneâmight sound like something to avoid altogether, but its actually an important part of normal metabolism and immune function. When cortisol levels are dysregulated, though, problems start to occur.
Stress can divert resources away from other bodily functions that arent imperative to basic survival. That includes things like hair growth.
In that respect, Hodgdon says, Thinning hair is like an early warning alert system for your health.
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Can Heartbreak Cause Hair Loss
Heartbreak is the most common cause of hair loss due to emotional stress or trauma. It can last for as long as the heartbreak goes on for, plus an additional 7 or 8 months for the hair to grow back properly.
This is because the emotional stress the heartbreak will shift hair follicles into the resting phase too quickly, preventing them from growing properly. The hair then moves into the shedding phase and starts again. However, if the emotional trauma is not addressed, the cycle happens again before the hair can grow properly.
Once the emotional stress has been resolved or is being resolved, the hair can start to regrow. However, this can take roughly 7 to 8 months, as all the hair that was pushed into the resting phase early needs to shed before it can regrow.
Can Anxiety Make Your Hair Fall Out
Anxiety itself does not directly cause hair loss. Instead, it is the stressful situations that those with anxiety encounter that can cause the hair to fall out. The amount that falls out depends on the severity of the stress and frequency of the interactions.
Anxiety is the bodys reaction to stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations. Though everyone feels anxious occasionally, those who suffer from anxiety disorders suffer such distress that it interferes with their ability to lead a normal life.
As with other emotionally stressful situations, anxiety can trigger telogen effluvium or alopecia areata which will ultimately cause hair loss.
If you think you are suffering from hair loss as a result of emotional stress, it is best to consult your doctor. Your doctor may refer to you to a counsellor or therapist, to address the underlying cause of the emotional stress which should help prevent any further hair loss, as well as allow the hair to regrow through the resolution of the source of emotional stress.
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Opt For Gentle Hair Care
Switch to gentle hair care that suits your hair. Say no to toxic ingredients like sulfates , parabens, alcohols, fragrances, dyes, etc. in shampoos and conditioners. Keep heat styling like straightening, blow drying and curling for special occasions. Visit salons less frequently for your dyeing, perming or bleaching sessions.
How Do You Know If Youre Losing Hair From Stress
Hair shedding is a natural part of every persons life. But if youre losing handfuls of hair in the shower or waking up with hair clumps on your pillow, it could mean youre losing hair from stress. Here are some common signs you may be experiencing stress-related hair fall
- Happens fast. Telogen effluvium can be pinpointed by hair loss happening abruptly. The thing is, the reason your hair is falling out was probably triggered by an event three months ago. Have a think back did you experience a traumatic or emotional event? Did you have a severe illness or maybe you had a baby?
- Wide area of patchy hair loss. With stress-related hair loss, its generally spread over a wide area. You may notice a thinner ponytail and increased amounts of hair on your pillow or in a hairbrush. Stress-related hair fall usually doesnt create complete bald patches
- Hair loss is non-permanent. The good news is, hair lost because of stress, will generally grow back. Hair re-growth may be slow taking years to get back to how it was, at around half an inch a month
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What Are The Signs Of Hair Loss Due To Stress
Stress-related hair loss from telogen effluvium is usually abrupt, diffuse, and temporary. Most people with this kind of hair loss caused by stress will notice sudden shedding two or three months after the stressful event. The shedding is diffuse, meaning that hair is lost all over rather than from particular spots . If you are experiencing this type of hair loss due to stress, you may notice a wider hair part or a smaller ponytail.
The good news? This form of stress-related hair loss is usually temporary. Once the stressor is removed, hair will usually regrow on its own. However, the hair regrowth process is slow. It can take up to a year for hair regrowth after stress-related hair loss. But I have some tips on how to regain hair loss from stress, so you can get back to your regular hair density more easily. Keep reading to learn more about how to regain hair loss from stress.
Facts About Hair Loss And Stress
Stress-induced hair loss is something Im sure youve heard of before, most likely from your parents or guardians. We are all told at some point that as children, teenagers, and sometimes even adults that were the reason our parents are losing their hair! But how true is this?
The fact if the matter is that losing hair due to stress is relative unlikely, but still possible. Both physical and emotional stresses take a huge toll on our body and its functioning, and there is no reason why this wouldnt also extend to hair growth and health.
However, in many cases losing hair because of stress will stop once the stress is removed. This process can take a while as hair cycles are long, so you should expect it to take a few months to a year for your condition to reverse.
Despite this, there are things you can do to potentially reduce stress and help this process. Weve created this helpful guide to show you how to do it!
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Maintaining A Healthy Diet
How and what we eat can have a big impact on our entire body, including our hair. By eating a healthful, well-balanced diet, you can promote hair growth and prevent future loss.
Getting plenty of vitamins and nutrients is key to maintaining a balanced diet. Eating foods rich in essential vitamins or taking supplements can help you get your daily dose of hair-healthy nutrients, such as:
Along with eating well, its important to drink plenty of that sweet, sweet H2O. Your body thrives when its hydrated, so drinking enough water each day can keep your cells in tip-top shape for peak performance.
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.
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 to mild 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.
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