People are fast catching on to the idea that stress doesn’t just leave you feeling tense and irritable, it can have long-term physical effects on the body – something a woman from the north west discovered when she found herself suffering from hair loss while being harassed by her ex-lover.
The Manchester Evening News reports that the woman, Kimberley Jones, says she started losing her hair when her ex-partner Richard Alexander refused to accept that she had broken off their relationship. Over a three-month period, police built up a 146-page dossier of complaints about Alexander who would phone his ex-girlfriend repeatedly and would regularly drive past her house – something he claimed was “by chance”.
In a statement, Miss Jones said: “He contacted me every day, sometimes several times a day. He threw items at my window and would abuse me. I can’t sleep for worrying about Richard phoning or turning up. It has had an impact on my health. My hair has fallen out. I want to get on with my life but Richard won’t leave me alone.”
Alexander was given a suspended 12-month prison sentence and a £750 fine.
Stress in multiple guises
The kind of emotional stress endured by Miss Jones is exactly what people tend to think of when ‘stress-related hair loss’ is mentioned, but thinning hair – or sudden hair fall in rounded patches due to Alopecia Areata triggered by extreme shock or trauma – can equally be due to stress placed on the body by an underlying strain. This can often caused by lifestyle or health issues which may not even have been diagnosed. These can include a wide range of triggers, from excessive exercise to nutritional imbalances in a person’s diet, or an illness.
The condition Telogen Effluvium, for example, causes a general all-over thinning of hair on the head, and alongside severe emotional stress, such factors as childbirth and pregnancy terminations which affect the hormones are frequently behind its onset. It can also often be caused by lifestyle or health issues which may not even have been diagnosed. These can include a wide range of triggers, from excessive exercise to nutritional imbalances in a person’s diet, or an illness. In all cases, the body is adversely reacting to environmental and biological stimuli, with the result that the hair follicles prematurely stop growing and enter the resting phase. This lasts for about three months, and then the hair falls out.
Telogen Effluvium treatment at a specialist hair loss clinic takes a holistic view of the situation, and combines an understanding of the cause of the shedding with medications and hair growth boosters tailored to ensure maximum chances of regrowth. It is worth pointing out that Telogen Effluvium does not normally last forever, and that in most cases hair will regrow of its own accord within six to 12 months.
Alopecia Areata treatment can also help to regrow hair on the scalp lost to this autoimmune disorder by accelerating the hair growth process. Often the hair will return naturally in many cases of Alopecia Areata, however, if or when this will happen cannot be predicted.
Foundations in medical fact
Hair and stress have been inextricably linked for decades – the old adage that someone is going bald because of work-pressures has foundations in medical fact. Mental/emotional suffering of the type endured by Miss Jones is regularly mentioned as a cause, too – such as the time a 10-year-old boy from Birmingham told a court that beatings from two of his teachers had led to stress and caused his hair to fall out.
Similarly, a boy aged 12 from China claims the stress of being called dishonest online by his teacher caused his hair to fall out, although this time the cause of the hair loss was quite different. The boy – Xiao Yu – said he unconsciously started to pull out his hair after reading his teacher’s comments. He was diagnosed as having an obsessive compulsive disorder and sued the school.
Hair pulling that leads to shedding is known as Trichotillomania, and it can lead to all-over thinning or bald patches. It is categorised as a psychological disorder, and is far more commonly seen in adult cases in women. Treatment for this disorder tends to come from psychotherapists and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to address the underlying cause of the issue is often recommended.
Once the hair pulling impluses are under control and the client is confirmed as being ‘pull-free’, if they still have hair loss that concerns them a consultation with a specialist can provide them with all the information and, where necessary, treatment recommendations they need to help get their hair back on track. In some cases, however, there may be scarring as a result of the trichotillomania which results in Cicatricial Alopecia which leaves permanent hairloss.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.