Is my Hair Loss related to my Stress? The occasional stressful moments on the job or dealing with kids will not cause an individual’s hair to fall out, let’s be clear from the beginning. If this was the case, all humans would be partially or fully bald. The type of stress that leads to hair loss is extreme levels. High levels of anxiety and fear over prolonged periods of time, which in essence is stress, is detrimental to anyone’s health. Traumatic events such as the death of a loved one or loss of job also can trigger stress induced hair loss.
Here are three stages of hair growth:
This is the stage when the growth of all new hairs occurs. Nearly all of the hair on your head is in the anagen phase The typical human hair grows approximately half an inch a month. This phase lasts on average three to five years. If you want your hair to regrowth, you need to increase the anagen phase. Several hair loss treatments can be done to help with the growing phase including taking hair growth vitamins or massaging your scalp using argan, castor coconut oils to promote blood flow. These are best oils for hair growth because they are packed with helpful vitamin and nutrients.
Once the anagen phase comes to a close, the hair enters the catagen phase. This is simply a transitional period that lasts on average ten days.
This phase is where the hair is let go and falls out. On average, once the hair falls out the follicle lays dormant for three months. Then, after this dormant period, the hair growth cycle is repeated.
When stress pushes large numbers of hair follicles into the resting phase, hence the name of this condition in relation to the hair growth cycle. With the follicles in this resting phase, the hair eventually falls out.
Some individuals suffer from an urge to pull hair out of their head. Obviously, this is driven by unmanageable stress. It can also be driven by other emotions. The hair pulling is the way the sufferer copes with their feelings.
Alopecia areata is a condition where you lose your hair in patches on the scalp. Long term, severe stress is one of the factors that can lead to this condition. In these cases, the immune system attacks the hair follicles, which in turn causes hair loss. Learn more about symptoms, cause and treatments of Alopecia Areata.
So, now that we know that a hair grows, then stops growing, and then falls out (basically the three phases), how is it that stress affects any of these three stages? While the research on this is not conclusive and across the board in agreement, the consensus seems to be that stress mostly affects the growth phase (anagen).
It appears as if stress kicks hairs out of the anagen phase and then places them in the resting period. Then, after a period of time, the hairs affected by this stress that were kicked out of the growth phase all fall out together.
While the research that has been done is not conclusive, it appears that the stress affects hormone levels and neurotransmitters which in turn affects the hair follicles. Given that there is a combined time period of three months with the catagen and telogen phases, this explains why many people see significant hair loss three months after a highly stressful period in their life.
If your hair loss is due to stress, the good news is this is not necessarily a permanent condition. It will take time. Now that there is an awareness of the hair growth cycle, and the time that it takes for each hair to go through each phase, we can better estimate when hair growth will occur.
Once the three months has passed from the highly stressful time, this will be when the hair loss is prevalent. The typical time needed for hair to grow back is an additional three months. So, it can take approximately six months or longer for hair to grow back to its original thickness.
Stress reduction is a popular topic on virtually every health related website and television show these days. Naturally, if hair loss is occurring as a direct result of stress levels, a reduction of stress should lead to growth of hair. Here are some common stress relieving activities:
– Reductions in caffeine intake
– Quitting nicotine products
– Establishing boundaries at home and work
– Healthy diet
Some shampoos that are loaded with all of the positive vitamins and oils can help promote hair growth. Look for a hair growth shampoo that contains biotin, amino acids and other oils that help restore your hair. Many people ask if a treatment such as minoxidil is appropriate for stress related hair loss. This topical treatment is not for temporary hair loss circumstances, as it usually has to be used for an extended period of time before you see results.
Yet there are certain vitamins and minerals that can be taken in a supplement form that can assist in the growth of hair. They range from Biotin, certain B Vitamins, and Vitamin C. Minerals that can assist in the growth of hair include Iron and Zinc. Counsel with your medical care provider should be sought before starting any vitamins and supplements for hair growth.