Stress & Anxiety-Related Hair Loss

WHAT IS STRESS OR ANXIETY-RELATED HAIR LOSS?

We all have boiling points—between family and career pressures and daily triggers—stress amasses and what happens? A physical, psychological, and emotional explosion. But here’s the tricky thing: stress isn’t a fleeting concept, it’s a legitimate and often overlooked medical condition. Stress ricochets throughout our lives and manifests itself into illness, emotional turmoil, and hair loss.

And that’s not all. Are you having digestive issues? Do headaches plague you? Maybe you’ve lost or gained weight suddenly? Are you having trouble fighting off that pesky cold? Stress is responsible for 75-90% of all human diseases, according to a study by Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. These numbers are telling, yet for as widespread and universal stress is, it’s equally misunderstood. Let’s clear the air on stress and make room for understanding, healing, treatment, and a little zen while we’re at it.

WHAT IS STRESS?

Stress is a natural reaction triggered in the hypothalamus, the brain’s stress response center. When something stressful happens, the hypothalamus produces stress hormones that send you into “fight or flight” mode. How does stress cause hair loss? Adrenal glands produce the hormone, cortisol, which shifts hair follicles out of active growing (the Anagen phase) and into active shedding (the Exogen phase). This complex system is vital in helping you respond to extreme stress. Yet it’s commonly misused from regular, ongoing stress triggers. The result? Radical changes in the body’s physiology, psychology, and health. 

does stress cause hair loss?

Can stress lead to hair loss? Absolutely, and stress affects 55% of Americans, according to a 2018 Gallup Poll. Compared to the global average of 22%, it’s evident that U.S. citizens are stressed out. Daily stress creates a cycle of compounded damage: stress leads to physical symptoms, and in turn, these symptoms generate more stress.

Chronic stress leads to hair thinning, breakage, and loss. What’s more, stress appears in many forms. While one woman can experience stress-related hair loss from a demanding job, another can experience it from a death in the family. There is no strict yardstick for whom stress-related hair loss effects. What we do know for sure is that repeated and ongoing stress triggers send the hypothalamus into overdrive and result in hair loss for many people.

stress hair loss causes

Hair loss from stress can either be acute or chronic.

Acute Hair all from stress occurs as a response to a high-stress incident. In this case, hair loss occurs 2-3 months after the catalyzing event. Examples include major surgery, car accident, high fever, emotional trauma, and even crash dieting. Hair will begin to regrow within 3-6 months after identifying the stress trigger.

Chronic stress is an ongoing and will result in continuous excessive hair shedding. Hair fall from chronic stress may indicate an underlying medical condition such as a thyroid issue, medical illness, or poor nutrition. Chronic stress-related hair loss will cause general hair thinning all over the scalp. Once the stress triggers or condition is under control, hair should start to grow back.  Anxiety hair loss occurs from ongoing chronic stress that takes an extreme toll on a person’s mental, emotional, and psychological wellbeing.

There are three stress-related hair loss condition:

Telegen Effuvium

A common issue caused by repeated stress triggers or a significant and stressful life event. Stress causes ample amounts of hair follicles to remain in the resting phase. Then, these compromised strands suddenly begin shedding in excess.

Alopecia Areata

An immune response that occurs during times of high stress. The immune system attacks the hair follicles and results in excessive shedding and hair fall.

Trichotillomania

This is a less common condition that affects only about 2.5 million Americans at some point in their lives, according to a study from the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. People with trichotillomania repeatedly pull out their hair as a behavioral response to stressful and emotional triggers.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF stress-related hair loss

The first sign of stress-related hair loss is noticeable, and excessive hair shedding defined as root strands per day. You may start to notice more strands on your brush or comb, more clumps in the shower, or falling about you as you journey through the day-to-day. Hair breaks, thins and ultimately, it falls out. Fortunately, stress-related hair loss can be treated and cured. To do this requires addressing and alleviating the root cause of the stress itself.

STRESS-RELATED HAIR LOSS DIAGNOSIS

Unfortunately, there is no Female Pattern Hair Loss. However, some solutions can delay the progression of it—especially when caught early. Unlike men, most women will not lose most of the hair on the top of the scalp. While overall thinning may occur, there are cosmetic, medicinal, and alternative treatment options to give the appearance of fuller, thicker hair.

HOW TO PREVENT HAIR LOSS DUE TO STRESS

There is no way to prevent cancer-related hair loss caused by chemotherapy, radiation, or cancer treatment. It’s important to keep perspective. Remember that although hair loss is a side effect of chemotherapy, it’s vital to your health and recovery to work closely with your oncologist and medical team to choose the safest healing path. Fortunately, cancer-related hair loss is temporary, and there are things you can do to help you transition and adjust to your body’s natural reaction to cancer-related Alopecia.

The most effective way to minimize stress hair loss is to take a comprehensive and holistic approach.

• Seek guidance from a medical professional.
• Seek counsel from a therapist or psychological support team.
• Identify stress triggers and eliminate the ones you can, and incorporate ways to better manage the one you can't.

STRESS-RELATED HAIR LOSS TREATMENT

The first step on your treatment path is to identify the stress triggers in your life. From work pressures to raising kids to health issues, stress isn’t singular and will affect each woman differently. Once you identify your stress triggers, you can start implementing strategies to minimize stress and invite more peace into your life.

Here are some ways to better manage stress and treat stress-related hair loss:

● Meditate, even if only for 10 minutes a day to ease into a mindful, meditative state.

● Adopt a consistent exercise regimen, including 30-minute aerobic activities 3-5 times a week.

● Reduce your caffeine intake: One cup of coffee provides energy but overdo it, and you may feel elevated levels of anxiety, stress, and heart palpitations. As per the FDA, limit your daily caffeine intake to 400 milligrams and make your cutoff 2 p.m.

● Squeeze a stress ball in situations where stress is unavoidable, at the office, or during a problematic stress trigger or emotional confrontation.

● Listen to soothing music throughout your day, at work, or during your daily commute.

● Adopt an emotional support pet if your circumstances permit it.

By addressing the root of stress, you can expect hair to revert to the growth phase within 3-6 months. If hair loss is significant or noticeable, use an anti hair shedding treatment or cosmetic solution to give the appearance of fuller, bouncier, healthier hair.

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