Stress Can Cause Hair Loss

What Is Stress?

Stress is a sometimes overwhelming sense of psychological, physical, or emotional tension and is induced by existing internal or external factors. It is the body’s natural method of reacting to difficulties. Stress can be a good thing at times, such as in instances where it aids with the aversion of harm and is experienced in only a small quantity. However, when stress is endured consistently or for extended periods, it tends to have ill effects on our health and well-being, both mentally and physically. It may cause or worsen already present conditions. 

Stress-Induced Hair loss

One very prominent effect of stress on the body is hair loss, which may be mild or severe, acute (short term) or chronic (long term). To be specific, excessive stress may encourage the development of a condition called telogen effluvium (TEL-o-jun uh-FLOO-vee-um). Telogen effluvium is a hair loss condition, which causes the hair to become patchy due to excess shedding. This is commonly experienced by women after pregnancy and is caused by falling estrogen levels. According to www.majka.com, this type of hair loss affects 60% of mothers after giving birth. Of note, it is caused mainly by psychological stress. In one research, mice were exposed to a type of psychological stress called sound stress, which proved that the stress experienced by the mice caused premature hair loss. 

Telogen Effluvium

There is one misconception that telogen effluvium affects only older adults, but the fact is that both males and females of all ages can develop the condition. Persons with telogen effluvium tend to have immense stress that drives hair follicles into what is called a resting phase, typically in enormous quantities. An individual unaffected by telogen effluvium will have approximately 15% of his/her hair follicles in the resting phase and 85% of the hair follicles growing actively. However, when the scalp is distressed by telogen effluvium, more than 70% of the hair follicles can go into the resting phase at any one time. Within a few months of developing telogen effluvium, the affected hairs will abruptly fall out, most likely during grooming activities, such as combing or washing the hair.

Male And Female Pattern Hair Loss

Stress is not the only factor that leads to premature hair loss or baldness. One other reason why persons may suffer from balding is male and female pattern hair loss, also known as androgenetic alopecia. It is a common type of hair loss condition affecting both genders, although the patterns take different forms in men versus women. 

In men, the hair falls out in an explicit manner; it starts over both of the temples and gradually recedes until it creates the characteristic “M” shape. Some males will also have partial or complete baldness near or along the top of their head. It often stems from the thinning of hair at the crown. Women with telogen effluvium seldom become entirely bald, and their hairline does not recede; however, the hair thins all over the head. Even though male and female pattern baldness is not induced by stress, an individual with the condition who is undergoing immense or moderate but consistent stress can experience an acceleration in the timeline as to when he or she would have an onset of androgenetic alopecia. 

Stress-induced Hair Loss Versus Male And Female Pattern Hair Loss

Even though androgenetic alopecia and telogen effluvium are both hair loss conditions, their causes vary greatly. Unlike male and female pattern hair loss, stress-induced hair loss may resolve itself (at a slow pace; approximately 1\2 inch per month) within six or so months, whereas androgenetic alopecia requires intervention to replace the hair. To determine if you have male or female pattern hair loss as opposed to telogen effluvium, look for a widened part and thinner hair on the temporal, anterior, and vertex areas of the scalp. The similarity between the two that you will notice as it relates to the source of the issues is that the factors that induce each condition affect the hair follicles. 

However, the effect on the hair follicle in each condition is different. Let’s look at those variations. In telogen effluvium, stress (mainly psychological) causes early termination of the growth or active phase of the hair cycle. As exemplified in the earlier mentioned study with the mice, researchers saw where repeated stress exposure resulted in significantly increased keratinocyte apoptosis, which is the death of the cells used for hair growth and repair. The hair follicles are affected by the inflammatory stress response launched by the immune system. A deeper look at this process shows that systemic stress mediators trigger the response of mast cells and macrophages, which then lead to the irregular apoptosis that causes increased cell death. The unusually high number of cell death is primarily due to the secretion of inflammatory cytokines (the proteins released by cells, which have a specific effect on the interactions and communications between cells) at the hair follicles, thus causing a lessened amount of hair growth and a thinned appearance. 

With male and female pattern hair loss, the prime culprit affecting the hair follicles is the hormone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone). Dihydrotestosterone is an androgen acquired from testosterone and aids with the development of male sex characteristics during puberty. Once there is an abnormally high amount of the hormone flowing through the bloodstream, DHT tends to over interact with receptors on hair follicles within the scalp, prompting them to shrink, reducing their ability to maintain a healthy head of hair.

DHT is known to cause the miniaturizing of hair follicles, which eventually causes the hair to fall out. Each hair follicle houses a hair that usually goes through a growth cycle that lasts about two to six years. Because the root of the hair is contained within the follicle, it means that even when the hair gets shaved, the same hair regrows from that specific follicle.

After the six years growth period, the hair enters the resting phase, and then a few months later, it finally falls out. The cycle will restart with the follicle growing a new hair. However, for persons with androgenetic alopecia, their hair seldom goes through the entire process. The high levels of DHT shorten the cycle and cause shrinkage of the hair follicles. This results in the hair having a thinner appearance and being more brittle, as well as fall out faster. In addition, DHT may also slow the growth of new hairs once old hairs fall out of the follicles.

If you are having hair loss or androgenic alopecia, due to the impact of DHT, don’t wait to treat it. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to stop and reverse it.  Time is truly crucial to the success of any hair loss treatment.

Our top recommendation?  The Hair Restore product line from Hair Restoration Laboratories.  All Hair Restoration Laboratories’ DHT blocking shampoos, conditioners and serums are formulated to promote the growth of healthier and thicker hair by using its proprietary DHT Halting Technology® to block the harmful effects of DHT on hair follicles, help fight hair loss, reverse hair thinning and encourage healthy hair growth.

Replacing lost hair allows individuals to feel more confident about their appearance and improve their self-esteem. Natural regrowth in the case of stress-induced hair loss is possible; however, due to its slow progress, it typically is accelerated with supplementary products and therapies. For male and female pattern hair loss, which does not regrow naturally, there are also numerous treatment products available to address the condition. 

References

Androgenetic alopecia: MedlinePlus Genetics. (2013). Medlineplus.Gov. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/androgenetic-alopecia/

Arck, P. C., Handjiski, B., Peters, E. M. J., Peter, A. S., Hagen, E., Fischer, A., Klapp, B. F., & Paus, R. (2003). Stress Inhibits Hair Growth in Mice by Induction of Premature Catagen

Development and Deleterious Perifollicular Inflammatory Events via Neuropeptide Substance P-Dependent Pathways. The American Journal of Pathology, 162(3), 803–814. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0002-9440(10)63877-1

Can stress make you lose your hair? (2019). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/expert-answers/stress-and-hair-loss/faq-20057820#:~:text=In%20telogen%20effluvium%20(TEL%2Do,combing%20or%20washing%20your%20hair.

‌https://www.facebook.com/verywell. (2021). How Is Stress Affecting My Health? Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/stress-and-health-3145086

Jewell, T. (2019, January 10). What You Need to Know About DHT and Hair Loss. Healthline; Healthline Media. https://www.healthline.com/health/dht#summary

‌Nathan, N. (2020, June 29). How Extreme Stress Causes Hair Loss. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/neeranathan/2020/06/30/why-extreme-stress-causes-hair-loss/?sh=365ec0a14e6f

Stress and your health: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (2016). Medlineplus.Gov. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003211.htm#:~:text=Stress%20is%20a%20feeling%20of,danger%20or%20meet%20a%20deadline.

Telogen effluvium | DermNet NZ. (2021). Dermnetnz.org. https://dermnetnz.org/topics/telogen-effluvium/#:~:text=Telogen%20effluvium%20is%20the%20name,the%20shape%20of%20the%20root.