There are well-established links between stress and hair loss and, as many in the UK will attest, there are currently few scenarios as stressful as Brexit.
Due to the uncertainty, divisions and general tension this political omnishambles has been causing across the UK, Brits may not just be leaving the European Union behind – they may well be losing their hair, too.
Here we explain how ‘Brexit baldness’ may be a real issue, and what to do if this type of hair loss happens to you.
Stress and ‘Brexit grief’
In addition to not knowing what kind of deal will be negotiated, nor how it will impact the country’s economy and people’s everyday lives, there are many people also feeling anxious about becoming something of an isolated island nation again.
This long-standing issue has been going on since the result of the extremely close 2016 EU Referendum vote results were announced, and numerous instances of associated stress have been reported since then.
According to a Bloomberg article published in December 2018, “Since the original vote in 2016, there has been a 13.7 percent increase in prescriptions for antidepressants relative to other drugs. Political chaos has consequences for public health.
Indeed, the results of a new study suggest that people subjected to long periods of intense uncertainty show levels of immune-system activity similar to that when triggered by viral or bacterial infections.”
‘Brexit grief’ is the term coined for feelings such as loss, helplessness, anger and a sadness at the change in identity – particularly for those born after 1973 who have grown up ‘European’- that are being seen as a result of Britain leaving the EU.
“It wouldn’t necessarily fit the clinical diagnostic criteria of grief or complicated grief,” Dr Chloe Paidoussis-Mitchell, an experienced therapist and grief counsellor, tells HuffPost UK. “But it is a loss. It’s the loss of what we know, the country we felt we knew, and the loss of the community we thought we belonged to – which was the European community. I do think that it affects us in a really big way.”
Whether you voted to remain or leave, the messy situation surrounding the whole Brexit debacle – whether it be a hard Brexit, a no-deal Brexit, extended talks or, indeed, no Brexit at all – these are worrying times for the UK.
In addition to the emotional toll, this turmoil may result in behaviours that can cause physical stress to the body and consequently induce hairloss. These include regular lack of sleep, not eating properly or having poor nutritional habits, doing less exercise than normal, smoking and/or drinking more.
Thinning hair caused by Brexit worries
When we endure intense periods of stress – whether physical, emotional, or both – it can spark a hair loss condition which, whilst it tends to be more commonly found in women, can also affect men.
This is called Telogen Effluvium and it presents as diffusely thinning hair across the whole scalp.
Its onset may appear sudden and shocking, due to as much as 50 per cent of a person’s scalp hair being affected at once, but it is actually triggered around three months prior to the shedding becoming noticeable.
Telogen Effluvium causes temporary hair loss and tends to last for approximately six months, with normal hair regrowth resuming naturally in many cases, though treatment is also available to help speed recovery along.
When the shedding is more intense and lasts for longer than six months, it is considered Chronic Telogen Effluvium, sometimes also referred to as Diffuse Thinning. Again, this may clear up on its own but Chronic Telogen Effluvium treatment is also a possibility.
Whilst these may seem fairly insignificant due to their temporary nature, for those with existing cases of genetic hair loss, or with a family history of Male Pattern Baldness and/or Female Pattern Hair Loss, the consequences could be more long-lasting.
These permanent, hereditary conditions can be exacerbated by Telogen Effluvium, if they are already present, and their premature onset can be sparked if there is an underlying genetic predisposition.
Hair fall from both conditions can occur simultaneously, which can make the areas of the scalp affected by genetic hairloss – namely the top of the scalp from crown to hairline – appear much thinner, even once the temporary shedding has subsided.
If you notice extra hair fall, a drop in hair density or see other signs of hair loss, it may be beneficial to consult a specialist so they can diagnose exactly what is causing the problem.
Whilst Belgravia experts can’t solve the Brexit problem, if warranted, a tailored hair loss treatment course can be recommended to tackle the shedding, whilst holistic stress-management techniques, from exercise and relaxation practices such as yoga, to meditation and counselling, can be used in tandem, to help control the cause of any stress-related hair loss.
The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. 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 world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.