5 Factors that Cause Stress-Related Hair Loss
More and more research is showing us that stress can lead to long-term adverse outcomes on our bodies. Sure, stress is not always a bad thing, as it is a healthy physiological response that protects our bodies and minds when we perceive threats against our health and well-being. However, chronic levels of stress (and the glorification of it, too!) lead to serious health problems in our population.
Although not as severe as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and mental illness, hair loss is one of the more common consequences of stress, and it happens to leave most of its victims embarrassed, concerned, and isolated. Fortunately, stress-related hair loss is temporary if you take the appropriate measures.
Here are 5 factors that cause stress-related hair loss and what you can do to get your hair back.
#1 Hormonal changes
Hormones are chemical messengers that deliver information from one organ to another in the bloodstream. For example, the thyroid releases thyroid hormones, which share information about metabolism, growth, and development for each cell in the body. Changes in your thyroid hormone balance disrupt your whole body system and can even be perceived in your hair health.
Aside from thyroid changes, changes in male and female sex hormones can also affect your hair growth. Women, in particular, are more prone to these changes, and they are especially evident in times where out-of-the-ordinary hormonal fluctuations occur, such as with pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and menopause.
For example, many women find their hair gets thicker and longer in pregnancy because high levels of pregnancy hormones encourage hair to stay in the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle. However, most women will start shedding hair about 3-6 months after delivery because their hormones change significantly following delivery and with breastfeeding. Not to mention, the lack of sleep, stress, and allocation of nutrients to an infant can also contribute to changes in your hair thickness and quality.
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#2 Emotional Stress
Our bodies are inseparable from our minds and emotions. Thus, it should be no surprise that emotional stress can also lead to problems like hair loss. Many people will find they lose a significant amount of hair following an emotionally traumatic event, such as divorce, loss of a loved one, and major life changes. Hair loss related to this type of stress is known as telogen effluvium, which is a temporary condition where people lose hair about 3 months following an emotional event.
There is a span of 3 months separating the start of hair loss because the final (resting) phase of the hair growth cycle lasts about 3 months or 120 days. Where people typically lose between 50-100 hairs per day, people with telogen effluvium lose up to 300 per day. Obviously, these losses can become quite noticeable, but they are usually temporary.
#3 Physical stress
There are many instances where the physical strain on your body can result in hair loss a few months down the road. For example, a traumatic event like a car accident or surgery can increase cortisol, your stress hormone. Of course, in response to trauma, our bodies also allocate blood flow and nutrients to other tissues in the body besides our hair to help with tissue healing.
Certain habits or practices may also lead to hair loss because the body is under unusual stress. For example, hair loss may affect people who:
- Do intense diets
- Lose or gain a lot of weight in a short amount of time
- Participate in digestive cleanses, and
- Do extreme endurance athletics.
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#4 Infections and illness
Another form of physical stress that is extremely common is in bacteria and viral infections and acute and chronic illnesses. Chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and gastric problems are commonly linked to hair loss. These diseases, along with many others, place the body under high levels of stress, which in turn changes where vital nutrients, oxygen, and healing cells are distributed in the body. Needless to say, hair follicles are not the priority when the body is just trying to maintain a homeostatic balance and survive.
Infections can also cause hair loss. For example, someone who has had the flu or COVID will likely attest that their hair thinned quite a bit following the event. Like chronic illnesses, even short-term infections force vital resources away from non-vital tissues like your hair.
#5 Chronic stress
This last factor is becoming more commonplace in our ever-busy society. With a constant connection to our work, people, and information, coupled with never-ending to-do lists and pressures to perform at our best, many people are floundering under chronically high stress levels. People with chronic stress often lose their hair thickness and health and struggle to get it back because their bodies are chronically in a crisis mode.
Aside from lifestyle stress, we also see chronic stress associated with poor relationships, family troubles, unhealthy environments, poverty, and chronic illnesses and diseases.
What can you do to counter stress-related hair loss?
As mentioned above, most hair loss due to stress is temporary, which means that if you can resolve whatever is causing you to stress, you can see hair growth begin to return. However, people with chronic illnesses may struggle more with natural hair re-growth, as many diseases don’t just go away because you have made specific changes. With that said, managing your health conditions with the proper medication, diet, and lifestyle changes may help your body become less stressed.
Aside from trying to rid your body of stress, there are several other steps you can take to re-grow your hair:
- Use a daily shampoo and conditioner that helps with hair re-growth like the REVITA and lines.
- Take hair supplements that have all the nutrients and ingredients you need to support a healthy head of hair. We recommend the REVITA Nutraceutical Tablets for Hair Growth Support.
- Reduce stress on your actual hair strands by avoiding chemical dyes, texturizers, and hot styling tools.
- Get plenty of sleep, exercise, fresh foods, and water.
- Use a topical hair re-growth product like 5% Nanoxidil - If you suffer from chronic stress from illnesses, you may not be able to re-grow your hair without using a product like Nanoxidil. This powerful, non-irritating formulation brings more blood flow to your hair follicles and opens ion channels to stimulate hair re-growth.