Stress or anxiety is often related to unexpected hair loss and the effect it has on you and your hair can vary hugely from something acute and less problematic to something much more drastic following extreme stress. The main reason stress can cause hair loss is that stress can increase your body’s production of adrenaline. This can then be converted into cholesterol which raises the body’s levels of testosterone and in turn increases DHT production. Testosterone isn’t just found in men, women has testosterone too, although much lower levels than men and it is your hair follicle’s sensitivity to DHT which causes androgenetic alopecia (male/female pattern baldness). Androgenetic alopecia cannot be caused by stress alone, there are many other factors involved in this type of hair loss and indeed other types of hair loss that are stress related. These are;
• Alopecia Areata – Sudden loss of large clumps of hair around the scalp.
• Telogen Effluvium – A condition where more hairs prepare to fall out than normal.
• Trichotillomania – A habitual and psychological condition caused by stress and anxiety where a person pulls out their hair without realising it.
For people suffering from mild anxiety or stress, it is likely to be caused by telogen effluvium and most people find their hair sheds more than usual about 2 months after a stressful time. Your hair has a growth cycle of around 2 years before sitting dormant and then falling out naturally. Once your body has told the hair to stop growing you will start to notice the extra hair loss around about 2 months after. Alopecia Areata and trichotillomania affect a smaller percentage of people and are more worrying and concerning for people.
Trichotillomania is a condition where people pull out their own hair either on their heads or other places like their eyebrows or eyelashes. It is an impulse-control disorder where the person has an intense urge to pull out their hair with an increase in tension until they do and many people find that they are unable to stop themselves from doing it. Once they pull out their hair they tend to feel a sense of relief until the urge comes back again. This sort of disorder tends to affect younger people, in particular girls and can result in bald patches on the head or lack of eyelashes which struggle to grow back.
Alopecia areata is an auto-immune disease where your body’s immune system attacks itself and as a result large patches of hair can fall out. The severity of this can vary and in most cases the hair will grow back but in extreme cases the hair loss is permanent. This can be triggered by extreme stress, something like a bereavement or accident that has a more profound effect on someone.
Hair loss relating to stress and anxiety usually isn’t permanent and preventative measures can be taken to reduce stress and anxiety. Trying things like yoga and meditation are great stress relievers or if the stress is more serious counselling could help you. Herbal teas before bed may help you sleep better if that is causing you stress and taking walks or exercising can help people clear their heads can relieve stress which will have an effect on your hair in the near future.
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