Scientists know that one of the things that can trigger certain types of hair loss is stress so it stands to reason that removing the stressor may prevent the onset of the condition. Going one step further, research from America now suggests that a way of avoiding stress and the myriad complaints that go with it… is to be happy.
According to the website futurity.org, doctors at the Centre For Healthy Ageing and Department of Biobehavioural Health at Penn State University have been testing how people’s natural reaction to stress in daily life plays a role in their overall health.
Researchers found that adults who fail to stay calm or cheerful when faced with minor stressors of the kind that crop up every day appear to have increased levels of inflammation, which can lead to chronic diseases and other long-term medical conditions. Their findings were published on the American Psychological Association's PsychNet website.
Says Nancy Sin, a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre. “How a person reacts to stress is important. Positive emotions, and how they can help people in the event of stress, have really been overlooked.”
The US study involved just under 900 adults over a period of eight days. They were interviewed each night and asked about their daily stressors things like discrimination and arguments at work and their emotional reactions to them. Their blood samples were also analysed. The study found that people who tended to be more negative than others on the days that stress occurred had elevated levels of IL-6, an inflammatory marker.
The American study did not specifically look at the effects of elevated levels of IL-6 on hair loss, but it has long been known that a common trigger of the hair loss condition Telogen Effluvium is stress.
Experts who studied Telogen Effluvium found that trigger incidents (stressors) can lead to a temporary shut-down in hair production as the body enters its ‘fight or flight’ mode as a result of what it perceives as an ‘attack’. As a result of follicles being stuck in the Telogen (resting) phase, this results in thinning hair all over the head and tends to last up to six months.
When the body continues to react to the stressor even when the immediate threat appears to have disappeared, people with Telogen Effluvium can see their condition deteriorate. This can lead to a more severe form of the condition, known as Chronic Telogen Effluvium, also known as Diffuse Thinning, which lasts for six months or more.
Stress, in fact, plays a key role in multiple hair loss conditions: it is thought to be one of the triggers of Alopecia Areata, and it can also activate Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss in those with a genetic predisposition.
While there have been many notable success stories with regards the treatment of all of these conditions, the research from the US is certainly a reminder of just how vulnerable the whole body can be to external, emotional forces. A positive frame of mind and the ability to find inner peace is likely to benefit those who can find it in more ways than they can imagine.
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