5 Ways Stress Causes Hair Loss

By now, I’m sure we have all had our share of stress. Whether it stems from the basic obstacles of life or the toll quarantine has placed upon us mentally and physically, it can be difficult to keep our heads up in hard times. Stress can not only negatively impact a person’s mental state, driving them to potential states of fear, frustration and depression, but can also impact their physical appearance as well. The physical effects of stress can be evident by high blood pressure, heart disease, premature gray hair, and diabetes. Another result of stress that we will talk about here is hair loss. In the following article we will go over five ways stress causes hair loss.


1. Telogen Effluvium 


Also known as Temporary Hair Loss, Telogen Effluvium can be a result of high stress. Telogen phase or the resting phase, which is also known as the shredding phase is a stage in the natural hair cycle. Essentially what occurs in this phase normally is that 90% of hair is in the growing phase while the other 10% is in the telogen/resting phase, waiting to fall out. In the case of TE, stress sends a large number of hair into the resting phase. Therefore more hair strands are forced into the resting phase than normal. These dormant hair strands would remain dormant for 2 to 3 months from the beginning of the underlying illness, and then starts to fall off. 


Several months later, affected hair might start to fall out when combing or washing. It is possible to notice hair fall up to 10 times more than usual. TE can appear as thinning hair with the hair on the top of the scalp thinning more than the sides or back. Women tend to experience this more than men. Due to the delay between the resting phase and when it begins to start to fall out, it is possible to tell what was the cause or event that triggered TE. According to research, Some stressful occurrences like a death of a family member, financial struggles, ect, may have occurred two to three months prior to the start of losing your hair. If you struggle from this, you’ll be happy to know that it is temporary and reversible. Normally, hair will grow back in six to nine months after that stressful event has been handled.


2. Trichotillomania


We’ve all been so stressed out at some point that we’ve felt like we want to pull out our hair. Well, essentially that’s what this means. Trichotillomania can be defined as a compulsive desire to pull out one’s hair. People who struggle with this disorder have an involuntary compulsion to pull out their hair from their scalp or eyebrows, or any other part of the body. The physical effects of this result in patchy bald spots, which causes significant distress and can interfere with social or work functioning. People with trichotillomania may go to great lengths to disguise the loss of hair. For those who have trichotillomania, the urge to pull out hair can vary greatly. For some it is manageable, yet for others it can be unbearable to handle thus making it difficult to function day-to-day. Moreover, it can happen whether the person realizes they are doing it or not, depending on the severity of the matter. No one knows exactly why people pull their hair out. Experts think the urge to pull their hair can be a way of dealing with negative feelings, such as stress, tension, loneliness or frustration.


3. Alopecia Areata


Alopecia Areata is one of many types of hair loss. Alopecia itself is characterized by your body’s own immune system attacking your hair follicles thus causing hair loss. In normal circumstances, your immune system acts as a defense from foreign bacteria and viruses. In the case of Alopecia Areata, your immune system views hair follicles as foreign thus they attack them. This specific type of hair loss is also characterized by hair loss in small round patches. This can occur in both men and women equally, though it is not very well understood why it happens. 


Luckily most of the time, this attack on the follicles will not kill the follicles, but severely damage it causing the hair to fall and cause bald patches. Although there is no specific cure for this condition, experts believe that hair may grow back with time. Originally, it was believed that there wasn’t a correlation between alopecia and stress, however due to many ongoing studies on the subject, it has now been shown that there is a link between severe emotional stress and the onset of alopecia.


4. Lack Of Sleep


Attempting to function while half asleep is never a good idea, especially when you consider the fact that sleep deprivation has the same effects as being drunk. This isn’t even taking into account that it does your hair no good. Consistently bad sleep can prove to be negative to the health of your hair and scalp. Your skin goes through a process of renewal while you sleep, thus good sleep is necessary. During times of stress, it can be very difficult to get sleep as is. Thus, any ways to overcome stress and anxiety before bed should be welcomed habits.


According to American Psychological Association, adults who sleep fewer than eight hours a night are more likely to report symptoms of stress in the past month, such as feeling irritable or angry, than adults who sleep more than eight hours a night (45 percent vs. 32 percent of adults); feeling overwhelmed (40 percent vs. 27 percent); lacking interest, motivation or energy (42 percent vs. 30 percent); losing patience or yelling at their children (52 percent vs. 27 percent); losing patience or yelling at their spouse or partner (50 percent vs. 36 percent); and skipping exercise (41 percent vs. 33 percent). They are also more likely to say their stress has increased in the past year (40 percent vs. 25 percent). A simple way to help fight stress’ effects on your hair would be to wear a hair mask at night while you sleep. This will keep your hair moisturized and healthy despite any lack of sleep you may be going through.


5. Poor Diet


During cases in which people have been under extreme stress, the concern for their own health usually lessens. In the worst cases, depression and addictions can develop if people do not get help they need or if the stressor is not relieved. One potential result of stress that is not as heavy as the former, yet can still be damaging, is the development of a poor diet. A poor diet can be any diet that consists of a lack of essential vitamins and under-eating or overeating unhealthy foods. This can end up being a cycle effect of negativity since a poor diet in itself can bring down one’s mood and motivation to further themselves. 


Consuming the right foods will boost your nutrition and reduce hair from thinning and/or shedding. Deficiency in vitamin B, protein, and iron can aid in hair loss while foods containing vitamin C, silica, zinc, and sulphur can promote healthier hair and growth. However, hair loss caused by a poor diet will reverse itself at some point after the proper diet is set in place.




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