How Stress And Anxiety Are Linked To Hair Loss
Imagine going about your routine, whether taking a shower, using a comb or brush, or even running your fingers over your head and making the frightening discovery that your hair is falling out in clumps. There are very few moments as jarring as finding piles in your shower drain or on your hairbrush, only made worse when you tug your hair to test it, and it comes out in batches. But before your mind goes to the worst, its essential to take a step back and think about the current circumstances in your life and how you are processing and handling them . Your hair loss may be linked to a period of high stress or anxiety, and the good news is that this is manageable and reversible.
Normal shedding happens for all of us. We see strands on our pillowcases, in the drain, or wisps on our clothes. If youre married, your husband has probably asked you why the drain is constantly clogged with your hair. Hair loss comes with the natural shedding of the scalp. Whether from friction, age, changes in diet, or the end of the life cycle for that follicle, there can be many reasons we lose hair. But when the hair begins to fall out in a volume that is not only noticeable but alarming, our minds race to the what ifs.
Very Low Protein Diets
Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are essential for hair growth. Thats because amino acids are necessary for the production of keratin, the main structural protein of hair.
Protein malnutrition when your body doesnt get enough protein can result in hair loss. Thus, if youre following a low calorie weight loss diet that doesnt contain enough protein, you may experience hair loss as a result .
When your protein needs arent met, your body prioritizes important protein-dependent functions like tissue repair, digestion, pH and water balance regulation, and hormone production. Because hair growth isnt essential to keep you alive, hair loss may occur .
Additionally, deficiencies in specific amino acids, such as histidine, leucine, valine, and cysteine, are common in people with hair loss.
In a study in 100 people with hair loss, researchers observed histidine and leucine deficiencies in large percentages of participants across several types of alopecia, including androgenic alopecia and TE (
For example, a 2018 study that included 50 people who underwent sleeve gastrectomy, a surgical procedure that removes a large portion of the stomach, observed hair loss in 56% of the participants. Hair loss was more common in women .
Notably, the participants with hair loss had much lower levels of zinc and vitamin B12 both before and after surgery .
How Common Is Hair Loss In Women
Many people think that hair loss only affects men. However, it is estimated that more than 50% of women will experience noticeable hair loss. The most significant cause of hair loss in women is female-pattern hair loss , which affects about one-third of susceptible women, which equals out to some 30 million women in the United States.
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Treatments For Hair Loss
Are there effective preventative measures that can be taken?
Treating hair loss in its early stages can help minimise overall hair loss and increase the treatments efficacy. There are a few ways to control hair loss, but what to do depends on the cause of why you are losing your hair.
Some hair loss conditions such as hair loss experienced after pregnancy are temporary and may resolve on their own. However if your hair loss is persistent you may want to schedule an appointment with your local dermatologist so as to diagnose if your hair loss is caused by conditions such as male pattern baldness, thyroid issues, scalp infections, nutrient deficiencies, stress or simply ageing.
I would recommend four main hair-loss prevention treatments to consider, all of which work to stimulate regrowth on dormant follicles.
Finasteride, also sold under the brand name Propecia®, is an FDA-approved prescription medication for hair loss prevention in men. Finasteride can be an effective way to prevent your hair from thinning because it prohibits the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone . DHT is a powerful hormone that is thought to cause hair follicles to miniaturise and eventually stop growing hair. To get this benefit of finasteride, you need to take it properly and consistently as prescribed by your doctor.
4. LLLT or LED Light Therapy
Can hair grow back after it falls out?
Improve blood supply to the scalp
Promote hair strengthening
How To Facilitate Hair Regrowth
If youre experiencing hair loss, its critical that you identify the cause before you try to treat it.
Remember, hair loss can have many causes, not just rapid weight loss or nutrient deficiencies.
If the hair loss is caused by a deficiency in one or more nutrients like zinc or iron, correcting the deficiency or deficiencies may stop the loss and lead to hair regrowth .
If a restrictive or crash diet thats not giving your body enough calories or nutrients is to blame, its essential to stop the diet immediately and begin fueling your body correctly with a balanced diet rich in nutrient-dense foods.
If you have a nutrient deficiency, food alone may not be enough to replenish your nutrient stores and a supplement may be necessary. However, research suggests that if you dont have a nutrient deficiency, supplements might not benefit hair loss .
A healthcare provider can identify the cause of your hair loss and help you come up with a plan to get your hair growing again.
To prevent hair loss, avoid crash and restrictive diets, fuel your body properly, and supplement before and after weight loss surgery. Work with a qualified healthcare provider to identify the cause of hair loss and to find a plan to facilitate hair regrowth.
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Losing Hair From Stress What You Should Know About Hair Loss And Chronic Stress
If youre finding more strands of hair than usual on your pillowcase and in the shower drain, you may be wondering if anxiety is to blame.
Youve probably heard about a possible link between stress and hair loss, but is there any truth to that claim? Whether youre feeling frazzled by work or are overwhelmed by emotional events such as divorce or a death in the family, its natural to feel concerned about how stress can affect your body. Heres what you should know about stress and hair loss.
How To Control Hair Fall Due To Stress
There are several ways you can address hair fall caused due to stress.
Over-the-counter, FDA-approved topical solutions and drugs like Minoxidil and Finasteride can help in promoting hair growth and act as treatments for hair loss due to stress. Minoxidil or Rogaine enhances the blood flow and oxygen supply to the scalp, thereby nourishing the hair follicles. Finasteride, on the other hand, is a prescription medication that reduces the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone , the hormone that is primarily responsible for hair loss in men. Finasteride stimulates hair growth by bringing down the DHT levels.
Massaging the scalp with certain essential oils is also said to be an effective remedy for hair loss. Some examples include lavender oil, castor oil, peppermint oil, rosemary oil, tea tree oil, lemongrass oil, and thyme oil.
Besides addressing hair loss, your stress level needs to be managed too. Relaxation techniques like yoga, exercise, meditation, breathing exercises, and positive thinking can effectively deal with stress. While yoga and meditation calm the mind, exercise releases chemicals like endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, which impact your mood and help you manage your stress.
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How To Reverse Stress
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Can stress cause hair loss?
When youre under prolonged stress, it pushes large numbers of hair follicles into a resting phase .
Not long after that, these affected hairs can suddenly fall out when youre washing or combing your hair.
But thats not all.
Last year, a fascinating Harvard study shed even more light on how stress contributes to hair loss.
In this study, researchers subjected mice to prolonged stress over many weeks.
Whats interesting is not only did this stress shift the mice into telogen, forcing their hair follicles into a resting phase they also lost the ability to regrow new hair.
Why? Scientists believe that stress also affects the dermal papilla, a cluster of cells at the base of the hair follicle that acts like a seed for new hair.
Bottom line: Stress is simply terrible for the look, feel, and health of your hair.
If youre shedding more hair than youd like, and youve been under stress, its likely the two are linked.
Fortunately, theres plenty you can do to reduce stress, which can help you feel great and improve the health of your hair, too.
Perhaps the best stress-buster out there is getting regular exercise.
Meditation, acupuncture, yoga, prayer, and taking an afternoon for me time are also good ways to relax and recharge.
In that case, you may want to consider supplementing with ashwagandha.
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“The majority of people do, ultimately, grow their hair back,” Abittan said. “It just takes time.”
There’s a broad range of symptoms that patients with long COVID can experience, ranging from heart issues to breathing problems and fatigue. Although hair loss may get lost in the mix with some of these other symptoms, Abittan said resolving the issue is important for patients’ mental health and well-being.
“When somebody does experience hair loss, it can be quite dramatic, and concerning to the patient,” Abittan said. “It definitely can take a toll on people.”
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Other Causes Of Hair Loss
- Traction alopecia.This form of hair loss is caused by the repeated stress of wearing your hair in tight buns, ponytails or braids. Hair loss is often along your hairline and may be reversible if you intervene early.
- Trichotillomania. This is a psychological disorder where a person feels the overwhelming need to pull out their own hair. Symptoms typically onset between the ages of
If your child is experiencing hair loss, its a good idea to visit a doctor. They can help you determine if theres a medical cause leading to hair loss or if its caused by genetic factors.
In some cases, an early diagnosis can increase chances of regrowing hair.
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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You Have A Thyroid Condition
Thyroid conditionslike hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidismcan cause a range of hair issues, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Those include: thinning or missing eyebrows , soft and fine hair with lots of shedding, thinning hair, and less hair on other body parts.
Of course, if you have experienced hair loss with a thyroid issue, the best bet is to speak with your doctor about treatment possibilitiesbut usually, treating the underlying cause first is essential to treating any other associated issues.
Seven Years Of Research
Like I already said, losing loads of hair really got me worried. Very soon after my hair loss started, it began to rapidly develop and I found myself totally unable to accept it
I needed help. And I needed it fast!
So, obviously my first approach was to ask the experts. Being very technically minded, the questions I posed to these hair loss professionals were quite specific* about the hair loss process.
* I wanted to know why the rate, region and age at which hair loss starts can vary so much. I also asked why the hormone dihydrotestosterone can be linked to both hair lossand hair growth.
I considered these questions extremely relevant to the hair loss process and, as such, quite straightforward for a hair loss specialist to answer
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What Symptoms Will I Notice If Im Losing My Hair
Youre probably wondering why Im answering this question, I mean surely the symptom of hair loss is, well, hair loss!
But you may experience different types of hair loss, depending on the cause, including the following:
- Thinning of the hair on the top of the head or the scalp
- Receding hair line
- Circular bald spots or patches
- Sudden thinning of hair
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How Long Does It Take To Regrow Hair
Most of the time, any hair you lose from stress-induced hair loss will come back. After youve treated the root cause of your hair loss, its normal for your hair to grow back over three to six months.
However, because it can take several years for hair to grow to its full length, it can take quite a lot of time for your hair to completely restore itself after stress-induced hair loss.
You Have Female Or Malepattern Baldness
You might already know about malepattern baldness, a type of hair loss caused by a combo of genes and male sex hormones that usually makes the hair on a mans head recede at the temples, leaving an Mshaped hairline.
But hormone-related hairloss for femalesor femalepattern baldnessis also a thing, according to the US National Institute of Health. This type of hair loss occurs when the hair follicle shrinks so much over time that it doesnt grow new hair. In women, the symptoms of femalepattern baldness includes a widening of the center hair part, and, sometimes, coarser hair on the face.
The only FDAapproved treatment for female and malepattern hair is minoxidil , but if that doesnt work, your doctor may prescribe oral medications such as finasteride that can halt hair loss or even cause some to grow surgery to transplant or graft hair is also an option.
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Can You Stop Hair Loss In Teenagers
Some causes of hair loss in teenagers can be stopped and potentially reversed. For example, if youre experiencing hair loss caused by an imbalance of thyroid hormones, correcting the hormonal imbalance may improve hair growth.
Other causes, like genetic hair loss, have no known cure and will likely progress with time but can be slowed down with treatment.
The best way to know if you can stop hair loss is to get a proper diagnosis from a doctor.
Not All Hair Loss Is Anxiety Related
Its also important to note that not all hair loss is anxiety related, but the two may occur at a similar period of time. Some people that start to suffer from hair loss are at an age with many other stresses, like kids, work, and finances. Because they happen at the same age they may seem related, but are technically different conditions.
Furthermore, some people start to feel anxiety**_ because_** theyre experiencing hair loss. In a way, hair loss is their anxiety trigger, and they experience greater levels of anxiety because they are so worried about losing their hair.
Finally, sometimes those with anxiety simply see more hair loss where it doesnt exist, because of their fears. Its not uncommon for hair to look exactly the same but anxiety plays tricks with the mind to make it seem or feel like more fell out than usual.
While anxiety can absolutely cause hair to fall out in some cases in very large clumps anxiety is not always the problem. Sometimes the problem is simply that your anxiety causes you to think more and care more about your hair than necessary, giving the impression that the two are related.
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How To Treat Stress
Stress-induced hair loss is usually temporary. While hair loss medications minoxidil and finasteride can help you regrow the lost hair, an effective treatment is to change your lifestyle to reduce or eliminate the root causes of your stress.
Sometimes, stress-induced hair loss occurs as the result of a one-off stressful event, such as a death, breakup or traumatic experience. Surgical procedures can also cause you to shed some hair as part of the recovery process.
Its also possible to experience temporary hair loss after a severe illness, which can affect your hair growth cycle.
This type of one-off hair loss usually resolves by itself after three to six months, meaning you usually wont need to make any changes to your habits or lifestyle. Instead, its best to spend your time focusing on recovering from the traumatic or stressful event.
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