A new study carried out by the University of Indiana in the US has found that stress – a major factor in several different types of hair loss – is quite literally killing people.
Research into more than 2,000 people from Wisconsin who were in their 60s found that those who had little control of their work load had a 15.4 per cent increased risk of dying over a seven-year period. Those who had a high level of control over their work and, therefore, were more free to enjoy a healthy work-life balance, were 34 per cent less likely to die.
Very real symptoms of stress
Stress is far more problematic that many people think, and far from being something to quietly suffer through, it comes with very real symptoms including – as the new study shows – a heightened risk of death. Less dramatically, but still life-changing in many cases, stress is linked to millions of cases of hair loss.
According to research from 2014 by UK hair care and salon brand Percy & Reed, 50 per cent of men and 75 per cent of women blame work stress for their thinning hair. It also revealed that one in five of those who regarded their stressful job as the cause of their hair loss earned over £75,000 a year. That figure dropped to one in ten for people earning £15,000 per year or less. Another study from the same year carried out by L’Oreal found that women are losing their hair earlier than ever, with a sixth of those polled saying they had experienced hair loss before turning 30.
A 2015 study by the British Heart Foundation found that work stress was to blame for people leading increasingly unhealthy lives. “Millions of people say they are smoking more, exercising less and putting on weight because they’re not considering the impact their job is having on their health and wellbeing,” said charity spokesperson Lisa Young. The bad habits this uncovered are all factors that can have a negative influence of hair growth.
Hair loss conditions linked to stress
The primary cause of the temporary hair loss condition Telogen Effluvium is stress. This mostly affects women but can occur in men too – especially as a side effect of medication or following an operation, ironically it is common after a hair transplant. Presenting as hair thinning all over the scalp, it happens when the body is stressed either physically or emotionally. In response it diverts its attention away from less critical functions, such as the hair growth cycle. This temporarily suspends hair production which can take three months to become noticeable and a further three months to clear up naturally.
Telogen Effluvium can also trigger androgenetic alopecia (pattern hair loss) in those genetically predisposed to the condition. Receding or shedding from Male Pattern Baldness and thinning hair in women from Female Pattern Hair Loss is genetic but can be worsened by stress. Although they only only affect the top of the head, these hereditary hair loss conditions can present alongside Telogen Effluvium simultaneously, making the hair loss particularly intense.
Sudden shock or traumatic situations, such as a divorce or bereavement, are suspected triggers behind the onset of the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata, which usually results in the sudden appearance of bald patches anywhere on the scalp. This tends to be intense pressure with a quick onset, rather than constant lower level stress that builds over time, as is the case with the other conditions mentioned.
Cases of stress-related hair loss can usually be treated by a specialist clinic, where everything starts with an examination of the scalp, a discussion concerning lifestyle and medical history, and a professional diagnosis. From this a hair loss treatment course will be tailored to the individual’s specific needs in order to help to get their hair – and often their confidence – back on track.
In addition to using clinically-proven treatments such as high strength minoxidil to help regrow hair, an holistic approach should be taken to address the underlying cause of any stress. Whether this is through mindfulness exercises, relaxation techniques or even by changing jobs, combating stress should be at the top of everyone’s agenda – as the American findings clearly illustrate.
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.