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Can Stress Impact Hair Loss?

November 23, 2022 4 min read

Can Stress Impact Hair Loss?

Hair loss can affect both men and women, and hair changes intexture and thickness over time, especially as you get older. However, knowing that hair loss can be a typical sign of getting older doesn’t necessarily ease your insecurities. If your hair is thinning or falling out, you might want to understand why so you can try to find a way to improve your hair health. However, sometimes hair loss is hereditary. However, other things can impact hair growth. One of the most significant causes of hair loss in both men and women is stress. 

How Stress Impacts Hair Loss

Stress is bad for your health, including your body and mind. However, most people don't realize that stress can cause your hair to start following out, at least temporarily. 

Stress and the Hair Cycle

Each hair follicle in your head cycles between growth and rest, and most of your hair follicles follow the same growth phase. When your hair follicle is in the resting stage, it begins to shed. While the natural hair cycle shifts between these two stages naturally, some external and internal factors can trigger the resting stage. 

One common trigger for the hair follicle rest stage is stress. However, not all types of stress will make your hair fall out. Typically, you'll need to experience prolonged and significant emotional stress that occurs for major negative life events. Therefore, a bad day at work shouldn't trigger hair loss, but chronic illness and severe emotional distress can. 

Signs of the Rest Stage

The follicle rest stage, also known as telogen effluvium, can be abrupt, and you may notice hair loss at one time instead of realizing it over a period of time. Hair loss caused by stress is abrupt onset, but it doesn't begin until around 90 days after the emotional stress event. So, even though you might noticehair loss you didn't notice the day before, it doesn't come from stress from the previous day, week, or even month. This is because the hair follicles prematurely enter the resting stage, and it takes months for the cycle to complete and the hair to shed. Stress can be a significant trigger for hair loss, but so can medications, hormonal changes, and illness. 

Non-Patchy Hair Loss

Typically, stress-related hair loss does not occur in patches. If you're experiencing patchy hair loss, it could indicate another illness such as alopecia. Individuals who have thinning hair or hair loss due to stress may notice their hair is thinner, but you're not experiencing spots of thinner hair.; instead, the hair is thin across your entire head. You may also notice you're shedding hair more frequently and find hair in the shower, on your pillow, or even around the house. 

Of course, it's normal to shed hair every day. Many people shed quite a lot, and they notice it because they have longer hair. 

Believe it or not, it's common for the hair to shed up to 50% during the resting stage, but it shouldn't cause baldness.

Temporary Hair Loss

Some people lose hair due to genetics or illnesses like alopecia, and that hair will never grow back. However, hair loss from stress is temporary and will return to normal as soon as your stress levels back out. However, it can take months for you to stop shedding as much, and it can take years for the hair you've lost to grow back fully. 

In some cases, the hair may never get back to normal. However, hair loss due to stress can also be exacerbated by other causes of hair loss, including pattern baldness. Additionally, hair density decreases with age, and added stress can make it worse. 

Can You Prevent Stress-Related Hair Loss?

While you can't prevent the resting stage of your hair follicles, and you'll always go through the natural cycle of regular shedding, your stress-related hair loss should resolve itself with time. However, you can do things to improve yourhair and scalp health to help keep your hair healthy and allow your new hair to grow back healthy. 

If you're constantly stressed, your hair may never fully return to its former glory. You can employ stress management techniques such as breathing exercises and yoga. If you're experiencing extreme chronic stress, you might benefit from therapy, where you can learn how to manage your stress better. 

Additionally, you can eat a balanced diet and eat enough protein. Your hair is made up of a protein called keratin, so it relies on protein to grow properly. You should also avoid tight hairstyles, such as ponytails or wearing hats that can put stress on the follicles anddamage them

Can Stress Trigger Hair Loss in Other Ways?

While telogen effluvium hair loss is the most common type of hair loss due to stress, stress can also cause alopecia areata. This type of hair loss occurs when white blood cells attack the hair follicles, forcing the hair to fall out within a few weeks. Alopecia areata hair loss occurs in patches, so you'll be able to tell the difference between the two from the way your hair sheds. 

Relieve Stress for Healthier Hair

This article has just explained how stress can cause hair loss in various ways. The best way to keep your strands healthy other than eating a healthy diet is to manage your stress levels. You can relieve stress in several ways, including minimizing the amount of stress you experience and managing the stress you face regularly. 

Of course, there are some types of stress, particularly life events, that you can't avoid. In those cases, you might benefit from finding hobbies you enjoy that can help take your mind off of your problems. Relieving your stress can help you keep your hair healthy and prevent it from falling out prematurely. 


Julia Olivas

Author: Julia Olivas
Julia Olivas graduated from San Francisco State University with her B.A. in Communication Studies. She is a freelance writer who loves sharing her passion for digital marketing and content creation. Outside of writing, she loves cooking, reading, making art, and her pup Ruby.