Are high amounts of stress causing you to lose your hair?

The answer is: maybe, maybe not.

Stress is often a scapegoat for some physical symptoms, and can be the culprit of many ailments like ulcers, poor immune system, and even rashes.  However, it might come as a relief that hair loss, while possibly resulting from stress, might be the result of another medical condition. While stress can cause symptoms that indirectly affect hair loss, and is in some cases a primary cause, stress does not always directly cause hair loss.

The three most common medical conditions linked to hair loss are:

  • Telogen Effluvium—large amounts of stress can induce a “resting phase” for hair follicles. It’s normal for some hair to fall out in the shower and while brushing, but in this condition a larger portion than normal falls out, and is typically associated with too much stress.

 

  • Trichotillomania—the subconscious urge to pull out hair, and can be induced or worsened by stress. A person may not realize they are pulling out their own hair.

 

  • Alopecia Areata (AA)—an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks hair follicles, resulting in circular patches around the scalp that can spread to the rest of the body. Occurring in about 2% of the population, it is speculated that severe stress can worsen symptoms, but stress is not the direct cause of AA. This condition is thought to be genetic at root, and can affect even children, but the main cause for AA is not yet known.

Treatment for these conditions can vary. Some treatments will work for some individuals, but not for others. Seeking medical attention is the only sure way to understand the cause behind hair loss symptoms and to find an effective, lasting treatment.

Whether stress and hair loss are positively correlated or not—as further research will inevitably be conducted—both are medical issues that need to be addressed in order to be healthy and to feel beautiful, confident, and self-assured.