Can Stress Cause Hair to Fall Out?

Stress and Hair Loss: What You REALLY Need to Know

( – High levels of stress can cause a lot of health problems and a number of complications in your daily life. One thing many people may not think about, however, is how stress may impact hair loss.

Have you been finding more hair than usual in the shower? Have you noticed thinning patches of hair? If you’ve been suffering from higher-than-usual levels of stress, it could be to blame for your ongoing hair loss.

How Stress Impacts Hair Loss

Stress can actually cause or contribute to hair loss in several key ways.

  1. Stress may push more of your hair follicles into a resting phase. Generally, around 6-8% of your hair follicles are in this phase. The hair follicle remains at rest, not currently growing. More hairs fall out during this phase, also known as the telogen phase. High levels of stress can cause more hair follicles to sit in this phase and remain in it longer, which may lead to slower hair growth and, in many cases, more hair falling out.
  2. High levels of stress may cause you to pull hair on any area of your body. This habit, known as trichotillomania, can feel impossible to break. If you’re suffering from immense stress, you may notice yourself pulling at the hair on your eyebrows or on your head. Some people can also pull at body hair. Some people fully pull the hair out, while others may simply tug repeatedly at the hair, which may lead to more strands falling out over time.
  3. High stress levels may trigger alopecia areata, a disorder in which the immune system attacks the hair follicles and causes significant hair loss. Alopecia areata can result in patchy hair loss or complete hair loss over the entire body.

Dealing with hair loss can further increase your current stress levels, leading to a self-compounding cycle. Thanks to those high stress levels, you may find it very difficult to manage your hair loss and get back to normal.

What Should You Do If You Notice Your Hair Falling Out?

Discovering that your hair has been falling out can be understandably stressful and even frightening, especially if you don’t know the cause. If you have been dealing with higher-than-usual stress levels, particularly stress levels that may have lasted for a long period of time, you may assume that stress is to blame. However, you may want to follow these steps to help identify the cause of hair loss and your ideal next steps.

See your doctor.

If you notice sudden hair loss, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. Hair loss can occur from a number of medical conditions. Your doctor can help rule out any serious health complications and, in many cases, help you get treatment.

Reduce your stress levels.

Most people cannot exist in a state of chronic stress indefinitely. High stress levels can lead to a number of potential health complications, including problems with your blood pressure, heart rate, weight gain, blood sugar, and, yes, hair loss. Look for strategies that can help you reduce or eliminate stress, including meditation, diet and exercise, or reducing known stressors.

Identify hair-pulling triggers.

Do you pull at your hair when you’re frustrated? Have you had a hard time stopping certain potentially damaging behaviors? Identifying your triggers can help you avoid hair pulling and the associated hair loss. A therapist can also help you identify those triggers and work through healthier coping mechanisms.

While dealing with hair loss can be frustrating, you may have the ability to check your stress and get that hair loss under control. See your doctor to learn more about the options available to you.

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