‘If you want to avoid hair loss, be happy’ might sound like a slightly preposterous piece of advice, but there could be more than a grain of truth to it.
In fact, an American review of more than 150 individual studies about personal happiness has come to the conclusion that people who are happy experience all manner of positive effects on their health.
And given than multiple hair loss conditions are affected by how healthy the body is, it perhaps follows that people who are happy may – in some cases – be in with a better chance of hanging on to their hair.
The effect of happiness on hair loss conditions
To explain, it is worth looking at several common conditions to see how they might be affected.
Telogen Effluvium, an all-over hair thinning condition that mostly affects women, has a number of causes that can frequently be linked to health. Telogen Effluvium treatment at a specialist clinic can be effective, though is not always necessary as the hair often grows back once the body has recovered from what is upsetting it – anything from stress to unbalanced or extreme diets to a punishing new fitness regime.
It could be argued that anyone who was blissfully happy, therefore, may be able to avoid alarming the body in such a way as to cause Telogen Effluvium. This is somewhat simplifying matters, however, and doesn’t take into account the fact that the condition can also be brought on by childbirth and other hormone-related triggers, such as starting or stopping contraceptive birth control pills.
The most often-seen hair loss conditions are genetic, and those with male pattern baldness and female pattern hair loss are basically pre-programmed to lose their hair when their body decides to do so any time following puberty. While these conditions can generally be successfully managed using clinically-proven hair loss treatments, the body can not be ‘re-programmed’ entirely and certainly not simply by being happy. Existing treatments – minoxidil and finasteride 1mg (a daily tablet which is for men only) – can inhibit hair fall, encourage hair growth and prevent hairloss moving forward.
However, when someone starts losing their hair to Telogen Effluvium, it can exacerbate hereditary hair thinning in people who are already genetically predisposed to lose hair in this way. This can be seen as thinning hair all over the scalp but with more intense shedding affecting the top of the head – specifically the crown, vertex and hairline or temples – as this is the area affected by androgenetic alopecia. So technically, happiness – and the health benefits that come with it – could, therefore, make any “speeding up” of male and female pattern hairloss less likely in some instances.
The same may also be true – to a degree – when it comes to Alopecia Areata, the autoimmune disorder that affects about 2-3 per cent of people and leads to sudden bald patches. This, too, is thought to be caused by a “trigger” event, which the body has reacted badly to. Long-term, chronic stress is a very common trigger – and it could be argued that anyone who was wildly happy wouldn’t be in the throes of any form of stress.
However, the condition can also be initiated by things that no one could reasonably be expected to exercise any control over – such as physical trauma, sudden shock (as experienced after a car crash, for example), local skin injuries, allergies and more.
Inflammation levels affected
Interestingly, an article about the happiness study in Time points out that happiness can affect inflammation levels – inflammation being something that is frequently linked to Alopecia Areata and its related conditions. Anything that can stop the body from ‘flaring up’ would doubtless be a good thing, and it appears that happiness could be just such a solution.
The study’s lead author Edward Diener, professor of social psychology at the University of Utah, now hopes that the research can convince doctors to start monitoring positive emotions during routine check-ups.
Being happy and being healthy are always worth striving for, and if they come with the added benefit that they may play a part in some instances in avoiding hair loss, then that’s only more incentive.
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.