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Are Stress and Hair Loss Related?

Hair Loss Caused By Stress In Chicago, IL

Anxiety, especially chronic anxiety, can take a physical toll on the body, including symptoms like insomnia, migraines, nausea, and constipation. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that long-term stress can also affect your hair growth. Below, the hair restoration experts at International Hair Institute in Chicago discuss how stress can be a contributing factor in hair loss, as well as how you can overcome this problem.

What the Research Says

Over the years, many studies have found a correlation between stress and hair loss. A newer study out of Harvard University may help to explain why that is. Scientists found that stress hormones caused the stem cells to push follicles into the dormant phase of the hair cycle, preventing growth. Just as importantly, they also found that if they removed the stress hormones, follicles quickly reentered the growth phase, achieving fuller hair for the long-term. What that told the scientists is that even a standard level of stress hormone is a component of the hair going into a resting phase.

Types of Stress-Related Hair Loss

The main type of stress-related hair loss is called telogen effluvium. Normally, hair cycles through multiple phases, with most follicles being in the active growth (“anagen”) stage. However, major stress can push up to 75% of hair into the dormant (“telogen”) phase, leaving it susceptible to falling out. Hair loss is usually detected about three months after peak stress and can have effects for about 6 months. If telogen effluvium persists for longer, this is deemed a chronic condition.

Stress can also trigger alopecia areata, a condition that causes patches of hair to fall out. Regrowth follows since the follicles are still active, but these areas are prone to hair loss again in subsequent months and years.

Finally, stress is linked to many cases of trichotillomania, which is a hair-pulling disorder. Although the precise cause of this form of OCD is unknown, some doctors believe that hair pulling is a person’s attempt to soothe unmanaged anxiety.  

Treating Stress-Related Hair Loss

The good news is that in most cases, hair loss due to stress is temporary. By confronting/eliminating the stressors in their life, hair growth can gradually resume. In some cases, especially chronic cases of hair loss, medication or hair transplant may be the right solution for restoring hair. To diagnose a hair loss problem and find a solution that works for you, please schedule a consultation with our experts by calling (312) 854-3898.