Have your stress levels heightened? Noticing more shed hair in your hair brush or on your bathroom floor?
If so, you might be wondering: does stress cause hair loss?
In this article, we explain the connection between stress and hair growth, how to regain hair loss from stress, and how to prevent stress alopecia.
But first, what is stress?
- What is stress?
- What is stress alopecia?
- Does stress cause hair loss?
- Does hair loss from stress grow back?
- What are the treatments for hair loss due to stress?
What is stress?
Stress is an emotional or physical strain on your mind or body that is positive when it comes in short bursts but detrimental to your health when it lingers.
Positive stress can help you meet deadlines or avoid danger, while negative stress can progress into anxiety and depression. You may experience stress from events or thoughts (stressors) that make you feel overwhelmed, angry, or frustrated.
The two major forms of stress are acute and chronic stress.
Acute stress goes away as quickly as it comes; it's what you experience when in a fight-or-flight mood with your adrenaline pumping.
Chronic stress lasts much longer than acute stress; it may go on for weeks or even months.
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What are the symptoms for stress?
The symptoms of stress are in two parts; physical and mental or emotional symptoms. Stress affects you physically through:
- Hair loss (stress alopecia)
- Poor immune system
- Body aches and pains
- Muscle tension
- Digestive problems
- High blood pressure
Stress is a threat to your mental and emotional health. It can lead to:
- Panic attacks
What is stress alopecia?
High physical or emotional stress levels can cause your immune system to go out of whack and attack your hair follicles, leading to hair loss in what is known as stress alopecia.
The science behind stress alopecia is, in response to stress, your body releases a chief stress hormone — cortisol — that attacks hair follicle stem cells and lengthens the hair follicle regeneration time. The result? Alopecia (hair loss).
Does stress cause hair loss?
One word answer — yes. According to reliable evidence, chronic stress can cause three types of hair loss:
TELOGEN EFFLUVIUM - Chronic stress forces hundreds of hair follicles into the telogen or resting phase. The affected follicles suddenly stop undergoing stem cell regeneration, and after about 2-4 months, the hairs attached to the follicles fall off.
This process occurs during normal shedding, but where only 5-10% of hair follicles shed, chronic stress can crank it to a staggering 50%.
TRICHOTILLOMANIA - Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder that compels the sufferer to pull their hair, usually to cope with negative emotions such as tension, stress, and anxiety.
So, the memes and social media stickers you see pulling their hairs out in response to stress aren't exaggerations. Stress can actually make you rip your hair out.
- ALOPECIA AREATA - In this condition, chronic stress causes the body's immune system to attack hair follicles, causing them to fall off. The hairs may fall out in clumps and chunks, leading to stress bald spots or stress balding.
Why does stress cause hair loss?
Chronic stress pushes hair follicles into a resting stage by stimulating the body to release cortisol.
In a few months, hair strands would start falling out from the roots during simple actions of washing, combing, or even brushing fingers through the hair.
Stress caused by poor nutrition can also starve the hair of nutrients, leading to poor hair health, breakage, and hair loss.
Can stress cause hair breakage?
You now know stress adversely affects hair growth but did you also know stress can cause hair breakage?
In telogen effluvium, where most hair follicles are in the resting phase, any hair in the middle of the growth cycle is highly prone to breakage. The reason is the hair follicle stem cells were cut short in the middle of rejuvenation.
So the part of the hair that wasn't able to rejuvenate can easily break off from the rest of the hair during combing, washing, styling, etc.
Stress associated with trichotillomania can also cause hair breakage. The constant touching and pulling at the hair can make hair strands weak and prone to breaking off.
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Does hair loss from stress grow back?
Yes. Hair loss due to stress is usually reversible.
Once you get your stress levels under control, you may be able to reverse stress alopecia.
In about 6-9 months, your hair could grow back to its normal fullness without any treatment, especially in the case of telogen effluvium.
In stress-induced alopecia areata, bald spots or patches may grow back in 3-6 months and could grow back white.
But in the case of trichotillomania you may need to seek professional (psychological) help as it is a psychological condition.
But for the most part, try to consciously keep your hands away from your hair or head when you're under stress. Your hair should grow back in a few months.
Is hair loss from stress permanent?
We come bringing good news. Most stress-induced hair loss is not permanent — it all depends on how you handle it.
The sooner you're able to address the stress, the more likely you are to reverse your hair loss and prevent it from being permanent.
How to regain hair loss from stress?
To reverse hair loss due to stress, you need to deal with the root cause — stress. Here are some tips that are proven to help:
- Move your body - Exercise causes your body to release endorphins, which help boost your mood and relieve stress. Create a consistent routine to enjoy the best results.
- Watch what you eat - Eat more foods containing biotin, proteins, and vitamins to help promote healthy hair growth. Some rich food sources are eggs, bananas, fish, and milk.
- Relax your mind - Using yoga, meditation, journaling, and other mindful activities, you can help your mind focus and stay calm, significantly reducing your stress levels.
- Talk to a professional - If you feel overwhelmed with stress, you may need to seek help from a professional. A psychiatrist or psychologist can help you find better ways to cope with stressors in your life.
- Get quality sleep - While you sleep, your body goes into rest and restore mode to reverse the effects of stressors you may have encountered during the day. It is recommended you sleep for 7-9 hours every night and practice good sleep hygiene.
- Treat your hair with extra care - Your hair is in a fragile state, so when handling your hair, be gentle. Avoid tight styles and detangle with wide-tooth combs; your hair will thank you.
- Time heals all wounds, especially hair loss - Your hair will grow back, but you have to give it time. Being impatient will only worsen stress alopecia and heighten your stress levels.
Use quality hair supplements - Hair supplements provide your hair with the essential nutrients and vitamins that promote healthy hair growth.
To get more out of your supplement use, try Goldie Locks® Hair Growth Supplements. They are packed with essential nutrients for hair growth and help boost your mood and immune system response, which helps combat stress and its effect on hair loss.
Steer clear of heat and chemicals - Heat can dehydrate your scalp and give your follicles a hard time stimulating hair growth. Chemicals like dyes and relaxers can put a lot of stress on your hair, leading to massive breakage.
So while your hair is recovering, avoid heat and chemicals like the plague.
- Avoid using harsh shampoos - Harsh shampoos contain chemicals that can damage your hair cuticles, leading to hair breakage. Goldie Locks® Signature Shampoo is the perfect companion for your scalp and promotes healthy hair growth.
How to stop hair loss from stress?
If you'd like to prevent stress-induced hair loss:
- Avoid toxic environments that could spike your stress levels.
- Have a healthy support system to cheer you on your good days and comfort you on your bad days.
- Learn to set boundaries; so people know how to relate with you in a way that doesn't stress you out and cause stress balding.
- When you feel overwhelmed, learn to stop whatever you are doing and take deep breaths before resuming the activity.
- Eat healthy foods that promote healthy hair growth and overall well being. And if you feel you're not getting enough nutrients from your food, you can complement your diet with our Goldie Locks® Hair Growth Supplements.
- Exercise frequently to alleviate stress and get your heart pumping.
What are the treatments for hair loss due to stress?
How does stress cause hair loss? Stress causes hair loss mainly by attacking your hair follicles and forcing them into a resting phase.
So, one way to fight the stress and regain your lost hair is to stimulate your hair follicles to regrow hair through:
- NUTRITION - Eating a diet rich in proteins, biotins, and vitamins is beneficial for hair loss. Your best bet is to take supplements containing essential nutrients and vitamins that can accelerate hair growth like Goldie Locks® Hair Growth Supplements.
- TOPICAL TREATMENTS - Products like castor oil, minoxidil, and corticosteroids can help combat stress alopecia when applied to affected areas.
- EFFECTIVE STRESS MANAGEMENT - Exercise, take up new hobbies, practice meditation, and engage in other activities that will help you manage stress and save your tresses.