How is Stress Related to Hair Loss?
Chronic stress is a very prominent issue in the modern world. It can propagate various health problems in an individual, including fatal diseases like depression and anxiety. Moreover, you can also face problems in your day-to-day lifestyle in areas like digestion, sleep, and even hair loss.
That’s right; there is a direct relationship between chronic stress and hair loss.
It’s common knowledge that people under a lot of stress are prone to suffer from problematic bouts of hair fall on a regular basis. But is there any scientific truth behind this common perception?
That’s what we will find out in this article.
Can Stress Cause Hair Loss?
Yes, multiple studies have indicated that stress and anxiety are two of the leading causes of hair loss around the world. Any form of stress – whether physical or emotional – has a negative impact on one’s hair follicles, causing hair to fall out prematurely.
Factors like accidents, injuries, hospitalization, and infection are all examples of physical stress. On the other hand, emotional distress due to complicated circumstances like financial burdens, debt, loss of a loved one, and even work-related problems are also significant contributors to the global hair fall problem.
In most cases, hair loss due to a stressful event is not immediate. You may notice the effects take place 6-12 weeks after the event that caused you physical or emotional turmoil.
Correlation Between Stress and Hair Loss
You might be wondering – does thinking cause hair loss? After all, stress is nothing but an extreme symptom of overthinking.
Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than that.
To understand the proportionate relationship between stress and hair loss, you should also understand the three stages of hair growth.
The first is the anagen, the growth stage, where you will notice strands of hair growing out of your scalp. The second stage is called catagen, where hair strands degenerate and cease to grow. At this stage, the follicle also shrinks. The last stage is telogen or the resting phase. Here, the hair falls out but the growth process can be started again.
When your body is under emotional or physical stress, it activates the flight or flight response. Several hormones are released to help you cope with the distressing environment. The activation of these hormones triggers an abnormal shift of many of your hair strands into the telogen or the resting phase.
Thus, the affected hair strands begin falling out due to overstressing.
So, there is a pretty standard relationship between stress and hair loss. The more you overthink and subject your brain to emotional or physical distress, the more likely your hair strands are to fall out due to the release of coping hormones.
Different Types of Stress-Related Hair Loss
There are many different types of stress-related hair loss. The symptoms and after-effects for all vary depending on the degree of the emotional or physical stress and some external factors like the health and diet of the individual under distress.
The three main types of hair loss that can be induced by stress are:
1. Telogen Effluvium
Telogen Effluvium is the most common form of stress-related hair loss. In such a case, a large number of hair follicles on your head are forced to enter the telogen or the resting phase following a stressful event or some kind of trauma.
Normally, you would expect around 5-10% of your hair strands to be in the resting phase for constant regeneration. However, during a stressful episode (telogen effluvium), the average percentage is exceeded by a significant margin, and you can expend to lose more than 100 strands per day.
As the name suggests, trichotillomania refers to a manic episode that often follows extreme bouts or bursts of anxiety, depression, boredom, or frustration. In such a case, the person under emotional or physical distress may unknowingly pull out hair from their scalp, eyebrow, and even lashes.
While this is definitely a form of stress-related hair loss, it is more man-made than due to natural bodily processes.
3. Alopecia Areata
Alopecia areata is another common but extreme form of stress-related hair fall. This condition is often characterized by multiple bald patches on the scalp. In most cases, this sudden hair loss is caused by chronic stress and trauma.
Alopecia areata is caused due to an autoimmune disorder. To cope with physical or emotional distress, the body’s immune system tends to attack and damage its own hair follicles, causing hair to fall out at a significant pace.
How to Find Out if Stress is Causing Hair Loss?
If you wake up to shower clogs because of extreme bouts of hair loss, there might be many reasons for that. Maybe the hair fall is triggered by an underlying medical condition. Or perhaps you’ve fallen prey to some allergy.
In any case, it’s important to find out the root of the problem if you wish to eradicate it completely.
You can’t assume that your hair loss is simply due to chronic stress or overthinking. You need to have a proper diagnosis.
So, how can you tell if your hair loss is actually caused by stress or some other external factors? Fortunately, there are a few things that you can notice by yourself before you visit a medical expert.
The Effect is Temporary
If your hair loss is temporary, then it’s likely caused by stress or overthinking. When your hair follicles are in the resting phase, the strands tend to fall out quickly. But they are still capable of regrowing and regenerating by natural bodily processes.
So, if you notice that bald or thinned patches on your head are filling up after a few months, you can assume that your hair fall was caused by a stressful event.
The Symptoms are Clear
Notice the symptoms – what is the pattern of your hair loss? If you notice diffuse thinning, you’re likely prey to telogen effluvium, the most common form of stress-related hair fall.
On the other hand, if you have sudden, intrusive urges to pull out your hair during emotional distress, you might be a victim of trichotillomania, which is caused by extreme depression or anxiety.
Finally, alopecia areata is the most recognizable form of stress-related hair loss. If you see significant bald patches on your scalp, you’re likely suffering from it.
If your symptoms and hair loss patterns are crystal clear, you should be able to self-diagnose effectively. But still, getting a medical opinion should always be a priority.
Amount of Hair Loss
Stress-related hair loss is characterized by losing around 80-100 strands of hair each day. That is more than the average number of hair follicles that are in the telogen or the resting phase for healthy regeneration.
If your showers get clogged up regularly due to your hair falling out, it’s most likely due to a stressful event.
In Any Case, Consult an Expert!
Self-diagnosis should be done for the peace of mind. You should not rely too much on your own opinion. When dealing with a problem as grave as hair loss, it’s important to find out the scientific cause behind it.
Get your scalp checked and treated by a medical expert to find out the exact reason behind your hair loss problems, even if you think your diagnosis is spot on.
Will Your Hair Grow Back?
We have one parting piece of information that will make you stress a little less about your current predicament – stress-related hair loss is temporary. So, your hair is likely to grow back after your stress levels go back to normal.
For this, consider getting tropical treatments or going through stress management exercises. You can also consult a medical expert for the same.
If you don’t see any improvements, there might be a different reason behind your hair fall problems. In such a case, you can always opt to grow your hair back by undergoing Direct Hair Implant treatment, the least complicated and most effective hair-restoration process, conducted exclusively by DHI.
Permanent hair loss is one of the gravest problems the world is dealing with right now. Fortunately, stress-related hair fall is only temporary.
But if you don’t see your hair strands coming back, your follicles are likely permanently damaged. Fortunately, there is a workaround for this – hair implantation.
At DHI, doctors equipped with hair-restoration expertise use the exclusive Direct Hair Implantation technique for faster hair growth with minimal scarring, optimal graft survival rate, and safe procedural practices.
Want to feel your head full of hair again? Contact our experts and book a session for yourself now!