As any doctor will tell you, stress is bad for your body and bad for your state of mind. But it can also be highly detrimental for the health of your hair and can lead to significant hair loss. Stress-related hair loss comes in a variety of forms and can affect both men and women of any age.
Why does stress cause hair loss?
To fully understand why stress causes hair loss, it is first necessary to understand what stress is in biological terms.
Stress is a necessary part of human existence, and is part of the ‘fight or flight’ response which puts the body into a state of readiness to take action in response to a perceived threat. When triggered, the brain instructs the body to release hormones, which in turn lead to the introduction of cortisol, noradrenalin and adrenalin into the blood stream. These naturally produced chemicals make the body more alert and able to take action quickly.
Unfortunately, in the modern world we live in, few situations which trigger stress are likely to be resolved by running away from the problem or physically fighting it. If the situation which triggered the stress response remains unresolved these chemicals begin to build up in the body, changing stress from a handy biological advantage to an ongoing debilitating condition.
High levels of these chemicals can affect the hair follicles on the scalp, as well as many other parts of the body, and this can lead to hairloss.
Hair loss conditions caused by stress
Telogen Effluvium is one of the hair loss conditions that can be triggered by stress. It may be caused by a particular event which is stressful or traumatic, or as a result of prolonged stress. Telogen Effluvium occurs when more hair follicles than usual enter the resting, or telogen, part of the hair growth cycle. Hair loss is usually not noticed until a number of months after the stressful event which caused the condition, when the hairs are shed and no new hairs appear to replace them.
Although it is generally a temporary condition and hair will re-grow in time, provided that the cause of the stress which triggered it has been dealt with, treatment for Telogen Effluvium can help to speed up this regrowth process. This hair loss condition can, however, spark or exacerbate Male Pattern Baldness in men or Female Pattern Hair Loss in women if they have an existing predisposition to this genetic condition.
The exact causes of Alopecia Areata, meanwhile, remain unknown but it is widely believed that it could be caused by both long term stress and sudden stressful situations. Affecting both men and women, Alopecia Areata is essentially a dysfunction of the autoimmune system in which the body’s own defences attack healthy hair follicles, causing hair to cease growing and fall out. In some cases the hair will eventually re-grow, but in others the hair loss may progress over the entire scalp (Alopecia Totalis) or even the whole body (Alopecia Universalis).
Unlike Telogen Effluvium and Alopecia, Trichotillomania is entirely psychological in nature. Those suffering from the condition have an unhealthy, often unconscious obsession with their hair, causing them to twist it and pull it out, leading to bald patches. Trichotillomania can be an unconscious and destructive way of dealing with stressful feelings and negative emotions. Treatment for the condition will often require psychological therapy to tackle the underlying causes for the behaviour, but hair loss experts can help to repair the damage.
Treatments for stress-related hair loss
The Belgravia Centre’s team of experienced hair loss experts regularly deal with a range of stress-related hair loss conditions and successfully help sufferers to stabilise hair loss and promote hair growth.
Whilst not all stress-induced hair fall will require treatment, in cases where it may do – for example, where stress has exacerbated existing cases or triggered underlying male pattern baldness or female pattern hair loss – hair loss treatment courses can be tailored to the individual’s needs.
Most importantly, we work with clients to identify the underlying causes of their hair loss conditions – an essential part in making sure the shedding does not continue to be a problem after treatment.
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.