Can Stress Cause Hair Loss?

Can Stress Cause Hair Loss?

Stress can have notable effects on our physical and emotional wellbeing and to answer the above question in simple terms, there is a scientific link between being stressed and losing your hair. 1Indeed, it was reported by The Harvard Gazette on 31 March 2021 that a study found that ‘researchers have identified the biological mechanism by which chronic stress impairs hair follicle stem cells, confirming long-standing observations that stress might lead to hair loss’.

However, stress doesn’t cause your hair to fall out straight away.2  There are also different circumstances caused by stress that can then act as a trigger for hair loss, rather than stress being a direct cause.

Here we’ve taken a closer look at what these circumstances are and whether or not anything can be done to stop or reduce stress-related hair loss.

The science behind stress and hair loss

‘Stress’ in itself is quite a multifaceted thing in that it can affect anyone, be caused by many different things and can vary in severity. However, when related to hair loss we’re talking about significant stress3, so for instance the loss of a loved one, redundancy, divorce or a prolonged period where your emotional and/or physical state is negatively affected.

With this there are three scientifically validated4 types of stress-related hair loss:

Telogen effluvium

Telogen effluvium5 sees diffuse hair loss across your scalp. It is thought to be triggered by a stressful event which then causes the growth (or anagen) phase of your hair cycle to end prematurely and instead put your follicles into a resting phase. Subsequently, you can then see excessive hair loss several weeks or months later as your hair cycle completes.

Trichotillomania

This is a condition where you pull your hair out from your head or body without realising that you’re doing it – this is more commonly referred to as ‘hair pulling disorder’.6 This is a psychological condition, but it’s thought that the hair pulling behaviour exhibited by those who have it is a coping mechanism when suffering from severe stress, anxiety or trauma.

Alopecia areata

Alopecia areata7 is something that will see you suffer hair loss in random areas on your scalp, often in circular patches. It is classified as an autoimmune disorder where your immune system attacks your hair follicles leading to hair loss. The exact cause is not known, but it is thought possiblethat sudden and extreme stress is a major contributing factor. However, the British Skin Foundation7 states that this could also be coincidental and more research needs to be undertaken.

What can be done to stop stress-related hair loss?

There are steps you can take to reduce stress and ultimately help limit the chances of you suffering from stress-related hair loss, or the conditions it can cause.

This guide from the NHS recommends a number of ways you can address your stress including:

  • Getting more exercise
  • Speaking with others and getting emotional support
  • Eating healthier foods
  • Trying to be more positive

However, if you are experiencing any form of hair loss, it might not be stress-related at all and could be down to other factors like your genetics. As such, you may also want to get the thoughts of a hair loss expert or trichologist and you could consider the Fagron TrichoTest™.

In a few easy steps this test can analyse your genetic coding and your current lifestyle choices to help determine whether or not these are contributing to your hair loss. In addition, this personal and unique analysis can then be used to identify which hair loss treatments are most likely to provide the best results for you.

Learn more about the Fagron TrichoTest™ and how it works here.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022202X15309635
  2. https://onlinedoctor.superdrug.com/stress-related-hair-loss.html
  3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/neeranathan/2020/06/30/why-extreme-stress-causes-hair-loss/?sh=7b779b824e6f
  4. https://www.healthline.com/health/stress/stress-hair-loss
  5. https://www.bad.org.uk/shared/get-file.ashx?id=132&itemtype=document
  6. https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/trichotillomania/
  7. https://knowyourskin.britishskinfoundation.org.uk/condition/alopecia-areata/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIufTPmuDY8AIVxqfVCh0KNQ9eEAAYAiAAEgID-vD_BwE
The Trichotest Team
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