Does Stress Cause Hair Loss?

Hair loss is a fairly common problem; 50% of women will experience some form of hair loss in their lifetime, while by the age of 35, up to 60% of men are dealing with hair loss. While it might seem like an old wives tale, there are strong links that show stress can play a part in hair loss. In this article, we will look at different types of hair loss, and what treatments might be used for each.

In many cases, it’s not quite as simple as stress making your hair fall out. Instead, constant stress may create situations where your body will not follow the appropriate hair growth cycle. In some cases, stress may be a contributing factor towards another condition.

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Types of Hair Loss and Stress

The most common form of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, or male/female pattern baldness. The root cause of androgenetic alopecia is the way the body processes testosterone, an androgen. Your body converts testosterone into a hormone called dihydrotestosterone. This hormone causes hair follicles to shrink and produce thinner hairs, before finally entering a resting phase and dying off.

This process is a natural part of ageing. However, research has shown that stress, particularly long-term stress, can cause this process to become accelerated. While the exact mechanism is under-researched, many believe that long-term hormonal changes caused by stress can make alopecia worse.

Androgenetic alopecia tends to present differently in men and women. In men, the hairline recedes, moving further up the forehead and creating a distinctive “m-shape” in the hairline. In women, the parting seems to widen as the hair becomes thinner, leading to large areas of thin hair.

Treatment Options

There are treatment options available for androgenic alopecia. You can buy Propecia, and its generic equivalent Finasteride, from our UK-based online pharmacy. These are excellent at stopping androgenic hair loss in its tracks.

Propecia and Finasteride are testosterone blockers. This means they prevent your body from converting testosterone into DHT, which can help prevent the thinning and dying of follicles.

In some cases, these treatments can not only prevent further hair loss, but can even promote new growth in some cases. This is only the case where the hair follicles are in a resting phase, and not fully dead.

You may find that using stress management techniques as well as hair-loss treatments may help. Techniques such as meditation and mindfulness can help keep your stress levels in check. This can help prevent relapses.

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There is also the case of alopecia areata, which is believed to be entirely triggered by stress. Many researchers believe that states of anxiety and stress may trigger an autoimmune response. This can lead to the body’s immune system targeting the hair follicles instead of foreign substances. This leads to patchy hair loss across the body.

Stress-induced alopecia areata tends to present as small, circular bald patches. With time, these may lead to larger areas of hair loss. In some cases, this can include body hair, such as eyebrows and eyelashes. 

This form of stress hair loss is fairly common. Roughly 2% of the population experiences stress alopecia at some point in their life.

Then, there is trichotillomania, a psychological condition characterised by the irresistible urge to pull out your own hair. Trichotillomania is considered a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. People with this condition tend to pull out their own hair when they are tense, stressed or anxious. This condition can be treated with psychological therapy, rather than a hair-loss treatment.

Often, the removed hair will grow back without issue, unless the pulling has caused damage to the scalp or underlying hair follicles. In this case, most hair regrowth treatments may not be effective. You may need to look into hair plugs or hair transplants.

Finally, we have Telogen Effluvium. TE can be caused by a wide variety of factors, and is often reversible. The most common factor for TE is some form of stress. This can include direct physical stress, or physiological stressors such as sudden weight loss, poor diet or even surgery complications. 

TE often presents with much more hair on your brush or pillow compared to normal. Occasionally, this hair fall can be from all across your scalp, meaning it may not be noticeable to most other people. 

Treatment for Telogen Effluvium can be varied, depending on the cause. Chronic stress or anxiety can be treated with therapy and antidepressant medications. A healthy diet and some time to recover can help if the issue is poor diet, and so on. 

If the hair loss is from stress specifically, some hair regrowth treatments may stop you from losing more hair. However, the best method of dealing with TE is dealing with the stressful events or underlying mental health conditions that create the stress. This will prevent the hair loss from occurring again going forward.

Take an assessment and see your hair loss options today