Stress & Hair Loss
Everyone will deal with some form of stress at some point in their life. For some people, hair loss will occur during these stressful times. While stress itself doesn't cause your hair to fall out, the physiological changes that your body experiences during stressful times can cause hair loss. Different types of stress can cause an imbalance of your body systems which can affect hair growth.
Stress can be emotional, environmental and induced by trauma. Stress can also refer to stress on the body including weight loss, illness, childbirth and surgery.
How Does Stress Cause Hair Loss?
When the body experiences stress of any kind, the hair growth cycle can be affected. Changes within the body can send more hairs than normal into the “resting” phase of the hair growth cycle, which will cause an increased amount of hairs to be lost during the “shedding” phase of the hair cycle. This can happen 3-6 months after a period of stress occurs.
Hair loss as a result of stress typically happens suddenly and is usually a thinning over the entire scalp. This is a result of the changes in the hair growth cycle that happens during stressful times. Handfuls of hair can come out during washing or brushing.
An increase in stress levels can exacerbate existing hair loss conditions, causing hair to fall out more rapidly than it typically does. Stress can cause a flare up of trichtotillomania and autoimmune diseases as well, attributing to even further hair loss. An increase in stress hormones can cause hormonal imbalances that create hair loss.
How To Reduce Stress to Avoid Hair Loss
Reducing your stress level can help to lower anxiety levels that cause the bodily changes attributing to hair loss. While you cannot always completely alleviate stress, you can sometimes make lifestyle changes to avoid, reduce or cope with stress.
Get Plenty of Rest: Lack of sleep during stressful times can throw off body chemistry and cause hair loss. Aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. To help you sleep more soundly, don't do anything too stimulating before bed, avoid screens at least one hour before bedtime and try to avoid consuming caffeine late in the day.
Eat A Healthy Diet: When we are stressed, we don't always eat the way that we should. Eating a balanced diet ensures that our bodies are getting the right amount of vitamins and nutrients. Getting the proper nutrients enables healthy hair to grow and reduces hair loss.
Exercise Regularly: Exercising releases endorphins in our brains that can improve our mood. It also increases circulation, which can stimulate healthy hair growth. Exercise also gives you time to clear your mind, which can reduce your stress level.
Participate in Therapy: Whether you attend group therapy, see an individual therapist, or talk to a trusted friend or family member, talking through your stress can help you find the source of stress and better cope with it.
Use Relaxation Techniques: Breathing exercises, meditation, guided imagery and aromatherapy are just a few examples of relaxation techniques that can be utilized to alleviate stress. Reducing stress can release tension and help enhance coping skills to deal with the source of stress.
Keep Your Existing Hair Healthy: To keep hair healthy, use heated styling tools sparingly, avoid coloring and chemical processing and keep your hair moisturized. This will all help to keep the hair that you do have healthy and promote hair health and growth.
Stress induced hair loss should stop once stress levels decrease or the main stressor has been removed. Hair should grow normally during the next growth cycle with proper care. However, it's important to bring any hair loss that you are experiencing to your doctor to rule out other more serious underlying conditions.