We all experience some sort of hair loss every day. But when you start to find strands of hair on your pillow, there could be an underlying cause. There have been concerns about whether or not stress can cause hair loss. Research shows that this is highly possible but it’s not the only thing you need to worry about. You need to consult your doctor for a full diagnosis of what could be the problem.
Hair Loss and Stress
High levels of stress can lead to three types of hair loss. These are:
- Telogen effluvium
- Alopecia areata
Telogen Effluvium (TE)
When you are severely stressed, your body may start to change and you’ll notice a couple of physical symptoms, such as constant feelings of tiredness, frequent headaches, and having trouble sleeping and concentrating. About 80 to 90 percent of your hair is constantly growing. The other 10 to 20 percent is in the resting phase. When your body is under chronic stress, large numbers of your hair are pushed into the resting phase. This may result in temporary hair loss when you wash, style or comb your hair. Even worse, hair thinning of this kind doesn’t happen all over your head, but in patches, especially around the center of your scalp. Telogen effluvium (TE) affects both women and men and can occur at any age. Some of the risk factors associated with this type of stress include:
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- An acute illness
- Getting vaccinations Luckily, hair loss caused by TE is fully reversible and you can expect your hair to grow back to normal once you’ve dealt with the stress.
Alopecia Areata (AA)
Alopecia areata is a type of an autoimmune disease that is triggered when your immune system attacks your hair follicles, causing them to fall off. Statistics show that AA affects over six million Americans. This condition affects people differently and while some will only experience hair thinning, some may develop bald spots. Hair may regrow and fall out again repeatedly over time. Doctors are yet to discover the root cause of AA but some suggest that genetics may play a role.
If you get compulsive urges to pull your hair, then you’re suffering from a condition known as trichotillomania. Also called ‘hair pulling disorder’, victims may not even realize that they are doing it and is normally linked to high anxiety levels. Some do this intentionally as a way of coping with negative feelings, such as frustration, tension, stress, boredom, and loneliness. This condition is more rampant in preteens and may last a lifetime if not addressed.
Stress-Related Hair Loss Is Temporary
The good news is that hair loss associated with stress is not permanent as it doesn’t damage the hair follicles. This means that hair will grow back, but the rate of growth will differ from one individual to another. If you’re experiencing mild cases of hair loss, self-treatment is an option. However, it’s advisable to see a dermatologist as soon as possible when you notice excessive shedding.
How to Cope with Hair Loss Caused by Stress
A number of factors can trigger stress in our modern world. While this is to be expected, how you deal with it can make a significant impact on your life. Here are everyday practical tips to stop hair shedding.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Our bodies are driven by the type of food we eat. A healthy lifestyle of eating whole foods that are well-balanced and nutritious will boost our immune system, enhance our metabolism, and improve our overall health. Most, importantly, you need essential vitamins and minerals like vitamins B12, B, C, and E, as well as iron and folic acid. Nutrients that contain antioxidants protect many health risks and keep your cells in top form. Make green leafy vegetables part of your daily diet and don’t forget to eat nuts and seeds. Similarly, stay hydrated all the time because body cells rely on water to function. If you can’t get these important nutrients from foods, discuss with your doctor about supplementation.
Manage Your Stress
Stress management is crucial if you want to reduce the risk of losing your hair further. Once you’ve noticed that hair is falling out at a higher rate and you’re not suffering from any illness, then it’s highly likely to be stress-related. In this case, here are the most effective ways to cope with stress:
- Exercise regularly. Any simple exercise will do. Avoid exercises that leave you feeling exhausted and go for things that you enjoy doing. This could be running, cycling, swimming, dance classes, working in your garden, or simply going for walks.
- Yoga and meditation. Yoga techniques are relaxing and target both your physical and emotional being. You’ll practice breathing and meditation techniques that help to calm your nerves and take away your negative mentality
- Avoid secluding yourself from friends. This is the best time to get social with family and friends, to make jokes and just have fun. It helps to distract your mind and at the end of the day, you’ll be feeling more positive than negative.
- Seek the help of a professional therapist. They are highly trained to help people cope with situations that seem impossible to come out of.
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