Can Stress Cause Hair Loss?

The question of how can stress cause hair loss is a popular topic of discussion among aging men and women. On average, the lifespan of hair is about 4.5 years, after which the existing hair falls off and is replaced by a new one. At the age of 30, or even before that, both men and women will start experiencing thinning hair and hair loss. The condition is more common in men than women and is associated with testosterone levels.

The body converts about 5% of its testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) through the actions of the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme. DHT is a molecule that can attach to receptors in the hair follicles, causing hair shrinkage and balding. Since men have more testosterone, they are more prone to baldness than women. However, hair loss is also linked to many other factors, ranging from genetic predisposition to stress. But can stress cause hair loss? The simple answer is YES. Stress can lead to hair loss.

How Can Stress Cause Hair Loss?

More research is needed before we can fully answer how can stress cause hair loss. Currently, hair loss associated with stress occurs in three forms as follows:

1. Telogen Effluvium: This is the most common type of stressed-induced hair loss and is less severe than other forms. In telogen effluvium, significant stress causes hair follicles to stop growing and go into a resting phase, lying dormant for several weeks. If the hair remains in resting mode for 2 to 3 months, it falls off but will grow back in 6 to 9 months. The affected hair will fall off when combing or washing.

2. Trichotillomania: This is one of the most severe forms of hair loss resulting from peak amounts of stress and requires urgent remedy. In trichotillomania, the affected person experiences an irresistible urge to pull out hair from the scalp, eyebrows, lashes, and other areas of the body. Hair pulling is a way for some people to deal with tension, stress, uncomfortable and negative feelings, loneliness, frustration, and boredom. However, hair loss through trichotillomania is rare because of the considerable pain it causes and occurs in patients with severe cases of stress and depression. If this is your answer for how can stress cause hair loss, you should find help immediately to avoid subjecting your body to such pain.

3. Alopecia Areata: This is another less common form of hair loss caused by soaring stress levels. In alopecia areata, severe stress causes the body’s immune system to attack the hair follicles, causing rapid hair loss. White blood cells attacking hair follicles can lead to hair loss in patches or the entire scalp and may also affect hair on other parts of the body. Usually, the hair grows back on its own, although you may require treatment for severe cases of the condition.    

Summary

Can stress cause hair loss? Well, the answer is yes. Stress results in a litany of changes in body chemicals and hormones. As such, it is paramount to get prompt help. Hair loss is only one of many things that could go wrong due to severe stress. Physical stress on hair follicles can also result in hair loss. In most cases, stress raises cortisol levels in the body, which in turn lowers testosterone. Studies have shown that low testosterone can impact hair growth, so it is vital to avoid or find help for dealing with stress as soon as possible.

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