Stress and Hair Loss

Can stress cause hair loss? Although most men and women are aware that stress can cause serious medical problems, they may not be aware that stress can also cause hair loss. Stress causes imbalances in the body’s hormones and can result in scalp and hair disorders.

Highly stressful situations include divorce, surgery, problems in the workplace and sudden or extreme weight loss can be causes for stress related hair loss. Once the stress is relieved, natural hair growth resumes its normal cycles. There are two main types of sudden hair loss due to stress.

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium is a condition that usually causes sudden hair loss while shampooing, combing or brushing the hair. The telogen phase of hair growth is the resting phase when hair stops growing, is shed and the hormone imbalances due to stress cause more hair to go into this resting phase, resulting in natural hair loss. Telogen effluvium usually occurs with fairly long term stress which lasts over months and it takes about two months before hair loss becomes apparent. After the cause of the stress is removed, it can take up to nine months for hair to resume the growth cycle and grow back naturally.

Alopecia Areata

The second stress related condition causing hair loss is alopecia areata. Alopecia is a noun, meaning the partial or complete hair loss from parts of the body that normally have hair, such as the head. In this condition, the body’s white blood cells attack hair follicles preventing new natural hair growth and causing hair to fall out. Alopecia areata can occur anywhere on the body, but most commonly occurs on the scalp, leaving round or irregular bald patches.

In this condition hair loss is rapid with whole patches of hair coming out. While alopecia areata is usually related to stress, hair loss can also be a symptom of a more serious medical condition.

Hair Loss In Women

Though women are not as vulnerable to stress and hair loss like men, there are other causes of hair loss. With women, one of the most common causes of hair loss is genetic alopecia, an inherited condition known as fragile hair. Although stress can exacerbate the condition, the primary cause is genetic, though there are ways of minimizing or slowing the effects. In women, genetic alopecia usually causes thinning hair rather than bald spots and women’s hairlines do not recede. Women with genetic alopecia rarely go completely bald, although the remaining hair may be quite fragile. Women with genetic alopecia should seek professional advice.

Hair Loss In Men

In men as in women, genetic alopecia is one of the leading causes of hair loss. In men, alopecia causes the hair line to recede and may cause baldness or bald patches, especially on the crown of the head. Stress can accelerate hair loss and lost hair may not grow back even when stress is reduced. Another cause of hair loss in men is poor nutrition and a lack of exercise, since a healthy, balanced diet with protein and a variety of other vitamins are necessary to promote longer and faster hair growth.

Stress Hair Loss

An experiment with mice in 2006 clearly demonstrated the relationship between stress and hair loss. Relaxation activities like yoga, Pilates, weightlifting, exercises like running or swimming or even listening to soothing music can reduce stress levels. In extreme situations, doctors can prescribe medications to treat stress, but these may not help stop hair loss. Participation in a stress program can teach individuals how to relax and deal with high levels of stress and slow sudden hair loss.

How To Stop Hair Loss

Stress related hair loss can be upsetting, creating even more stress, especially with sudden hair loss in women. While reducing stress levels can help restore hair and prevent hair loss, any severe hair loss should be examined by a doctor for diagnosis. Always keep in mind that hair loss can be an early symptom of a serious medical condition, and not necessarily related to stress. Consider learning more about hair growth pills, the best vitamins for hair growth, and ways to make your hair grow faster and longer.