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Can Stress Cause Hair Loss?

If you have been experiencing some hair loss recently and you are wondering why you are seeing more empty hair follicles on your head, you may be somewhat relieved to know that there is a reason for your predicament – stress-related hair loss.

This is not to say that the hair loss you are experiencing is definitely stress, you will need to consult with a doctor first to rule out any other medical issues that could be causing your hair loss, but if you have been going through a lot of stress recently, then stress-induced hair loss could be your answer.

In this article, I will go into what can cause hair loss in people, the types of loss you can get, and some ways to treat thinning hair and hair loss which may promote hair growth and stop it from falling out.

Potential Hair Loss Causes

Patchy hair loss is not exactly what anyone wants to go through, it can be very upsetting to see and deal with, and even though things such as male pattern baldness are very much well-known, hair loss in men and women can be a very stressful event.

There are a few reasons why you may be losing your hair that you will need to factor in when whittling down the reasons why you are seeing more hair loss than you have been before.

  • You are going through a temporary illness.
  • You are pregnant (the fluctuations in hormone levels can have an effect).
  • You have an underlying health condition such as an underactive thyroid.
  • Going through medical treatment such as chemotherapy
  • Emotional stress

There are ways that you can help bring your hair loss back from the brink if you have one of these issues, however, with the latter problem, there are different types of hair loss from emotional stress that you should know about before getting help.

The Type of Hair Loss You May Have

Stress-related hair loss is a broad term, there are different types that you should know about to see what you can do to promote good hair health again and stop hair falling out.

Telogen Effluvium

The most common cause of hair loss is called telogen effluvium.

We have quite a large number of hairs on our heads but they are not all growing at the same time, some are more active than others.

The Hair Growth Cycle

The hair growth cycle is driven by stem cells in the hair follicle, during the growth of your hair your stem cells will divide to become new cells that regenerate your hair, then when your hair is resting those stem cells become inactive until it is time for the hair follicle to start producing again.

Hairs that are growing are going through the anagen phase, also known as the growth phase, and the hairs that are in the resting phase are also called the telogen phase (they have stopped their growth).

When hairs are in the telogen phase, they will typically stay on the head for a few months before they fall out.

If you suffer from telogen effluvium, then you will notice that you go through more of a resting phase than a growth phase, so you start to have an increased amount of hair shedding and you can lose upwards of 300 hairs each day, whereas healthy hair loss is around 100 hairs per day.

Studies on Hair Lost to Stress

It isn’t entirely clear why this happens, but with some studies being conducted on those who have gone through stressful experiences, the anagen phase is normally cut short as stress grows, so it is seen as the main trigger.

It Doesn’t Happen Instantly

You may think that as soon as you get stressed your hair will just fall out right then and there, however, that is not the case as it can take months for this to happen after a stressful event, so when you start to notice that you have significant further hair loss and you cast your mind back, you may be able to trace it to a certain event.


Alopecia Areata

This type of hair loss may have been heard about a lot more as alopecia is quite well-known.

This is believed to be linked to the immune system and causes hair loss by losing hair in a coin-sized patch not only with scalp hair but on the body and face too. It would be most noticeable in men who have a beard.

These patches can grow and grow, causing there to be more baldness than hair, which can make people decide to shave their entire scalp instead of trying to grow it back or style it differently.

Not Always Permanent

Sometimes alopecia areata does not last and is only considered temporary with people growing their hair back after a few months.

Androgenic Alopecia

This is a similar type of hair loss that is linked to male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness, however, the cause of this one is unknown at the moment and it is considered to be permanent if people do not use any treatment options or try medication.

The stress hormones may not be linked to this one, but it can’t help stress levels knowing that your hair can fall out at any point without a clear cause.


This is not a type of hair loss that comes from random clumps of hair falling out, this will come from a compulsive urge to pull your own hair out.

There are no known reasons why this occurs, but, it has been said that stress may be contributing to it with people feeling that need to pull their hair out to calm down, but that doesn’t apply to everyone who goes through this.

What Can People Do Next?

If you think that you have one of these problems, the first thing you need to do is go to your doctor and talk about some treatment options that will suit you and your hair loss.

There has been a lot of research done into how chronic stress impaired hair follicle stem cells and luckily because of that research, people are able to get the treatments they need to either make the situation better or at least save their hair from completely falling out.

Treatment For Hair Loss Caused By Stress

Here are some treatments that can help people who are experiencing one of these hair loss issues above and how effective they can be.

Treatment For Telogen Effluvium

This kind of hair fall out can be treated with a medication called Minoxidil, also known as Regaine. It is a topical treatment and you will need to apply it to your scalp to see the results.

It is a well-known treatment for men, and they may combine it with shampoos and vitamins to promote hair growth as well as keep it healthy when they eventually regrow it.

Treatment For Alopecia Areata

There are quite a few treatments out there for people who have issues with this specific type of alopecia, some will be prescribed by your doctor, but they mostly will be given by dermatologists as they have more of an in-depth knowledge about what to do.

They can prescribe you treatments like –

  • Steroid cream
  • Dithranol
  • Immunotherapy

Treatment For Trichotillomania

As this is quite closely linked to stress as well as OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), psychological therapy is seen as the most effective treatment in this case, as it will be able to help people get down to the root of the issue and why they gravitate towards pulling out their own hair.

Dealing With Stress

We all will go through different types of stressful situations in our lives, and a lot of the time we will be able to handle them, albeit with some upset and anger, however, when that stress becomes chronic it can disrupt how we live and cause knock-on issues that can be horrible and frustrating to go through.

If you think that your hair loss is due to stress, it is important to get that looked into as soon as possible to not only get the help you need to manage your stress, but to rule out anything else that potentially could be causing it.


So, can stress cause hair loss? I think we have definitely found the answer to that as well as what else can cause hair loss in people.

It is not pleasant and it can make you feel more stressed as well as depressed, but the most important thing is getting to the heart of the issue first and doing your best to put a stop to it.

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