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Stress Hair Loss & Male Pattern Baldness

What is STRESS?

We all have boiling points—between career pressure, personal goals, and family demands—stress builds. Over time, stress can infiltrate your physical, emotional, and physiological health. For men, there’s a stigma that stress aligns with weakness. That’s simply untrue, as it’s a medical condition that affects 77% of people’s physical health, as reported by the American Institute of Stress.

Stress is the cause of hair loss for many people, and that’s not all; 75-90% of all human diseases are the result of stress, according to a study by Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. When left unchecked, stress compounds. Ever feel like a pot of water about to boil over? It’s perfectly natural to feel stressed out, so let’s discuss what you can do about it.

DOES STRESS CAUSE MALE PATTERN BALDNESS?

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. 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 to accommodate the reactionary demand of ongoing stress triggers. 

Can stress lead to hair loss? Absolutely, and it 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 toxic cycle:

Stress leads to physical symptoms, and in turn, the symptoms debilitate your functioning. It’s no surprise, then, that the scalp is on the frontlines of this stress-battle.

Chronic stress hair loss in men leads to hair thinning, breakage, and loss. There is no strict yardstick for stress-related hair loss in men. We do know that exposure to ongoing stress triggers sends the hypothalamus into overdrive, and the result is hair loss.

STRESS HAIR LOSS CAUSES

There are three categories of stress related hair loss in males:

Acute Hair Loss From Stress:
A response to a high-stress incident like a car accident, financial burden, major surgery, crash dieting, or a high fever. Hair loss occurs 2-3 months after the catalyzing event and will regrow within 3-6 months after.

Chronic Stress:
An ongoing, causes excessive hair shedding, and may indicate an underlying medical condition like a thyroid issue, medical illness, or poor nutrition. Chronic stress-related hair loss will cause general hair thinning all over the scalp. Once you identify and manage the stress trigger, hair should start to regrow.

Anxiety Stress:
Occurs from ongoing chronic stress that takes an extreme toll on a man’s mental, emotional, and psychological wellbeing.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF Stress-related hair loss

Is your hair shedding in excess or accumulating in the shower? Your hair loss symptoms could be stress-related. The good news is that stress hair loss is curable. Of course, you’ll need to identify and minimize those stress triggers to gain results.A high-stress promotion or pressure to balance work and family aren’t issues you can simply toss to the side. What you can do is delegate time for activities that alleviate stress. Love golfing? Make time for a weekly game. Does a guy’s night out lessen the pressure? Call up your buddies and hit up happy hour after work. Are you feeling pent up or frustrated? Sweat it out on the treadmill or at the gym. Meditation and yoga are excellent stress relievers as well.

stress-related HAIR LOSS DIAGNOSIS

If you’re noticing excessive hair loss, it may thin evenly across the scalp or around the temples. Multiple variables cause stress hair loss, including genetics, health, diet, and stress levels. What distinguishes stress hair loss from other forms of hair loss is a consistent thinning across the scalp. Once you minimize or eliminate stress triggers, hair should resume the natural growth cycle.

There are three stress-related hair loss conditions:

  • Telogen Effluvium - A common issue caused by repeated stress triggers or a significant life event. Stress causes ample amounts of hair follicles to remain in the resting phase. Then, these compromised strands start to shed excessively. 
  • Alopecia Areata - An immune response triggered by high stress. The immune system attacks the hair follicles and results in excessive shedding and hair loss.
  • Trichotillomania - A less common condition that affects only about 2.5 million Americans, 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.

HOW TO PREVENT Men's HAIR LOSS due to stress

The most bulletproof approach to alleviating stress-related hair loss is to tackle your stress triggers head-on. Here’s how:

  • Seek guidance from a medical professional
  • Visit a therapist or counselor to work through painful stress triggers
  • Identify stress triggers and eliminate the ones you can
  • For unavoidable stress (a medical illness, overbearing coworker, etc.) default to your calming activities

stress-related HAIR LOSS TREATMENT

Here are some tools to help reduce the impact of stress-related hair loss:

  • Go for a run or long walk
  • Exercise regularly, hit the gym and lift weights, or do circuit training for at least 30-minutes, 3-5 times a week.
  • Reduce caffeine: 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 when emotional turbulence arises.Make time for joyful hobbies (sports, socializing, reading, etc.) 2-3 times a week. 
  • Try mindful activities like meditation to ease into a peaceful state
  • Listen to relaxing music throughout your day, at work, or on the commute

Stress is not synonymous with success. You deserve to have it all without sacrificing your physical and emotional health. Address the source of stress, and your hair should begin to regrow within 3-6 months. If hair loss is noticeable, use a powerful anti hair shedding treatment or cosmetic solution to give the appearance of full, healthy hair. 

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