Why Does Stress Cause Hair Loss?

Every one of us will suffer from stress at some point in our lives.  But the big question is:

Why does stress cause hair loss?

In a nutshell, stress promotes sebum** flow, which can make dandruff worse, can increase hair loss, and it affects everybody all the time.  Just living in a society that demands so much of us, and asks us to conform to a way of life that is often unhealthy, is stressful.
**Sebum is an oily substance secreted by the sebaceous glands in mammalian skin.

This is not a new phenomenon; our ancestors were under stress too.  They had to cope with the shortage of resources, hunger, hostility, even the odd attack from a sabre tooth tiger!   In our development as human beings we have evolved many ways of dealing with problems, but if stress is continuous or accumulative it can lead to a situation in which our physical and emotional health is endangered, and which in turn can lead to hair and scalp disorders.

Remember, your hair is an important barometer of what is going on in your body, and you must take notice of it. It’s a known fact that Alopecia can be caused by stress. Also it’s possible that stress can cause hair to quickly turn grey. Any emotional stress, or pregnancy, or illness can have this effect on the hair and scalp.

Every hair follicle on your head alternates between a growing phase and a resting phase, and then the hair is shed to start all over again. There is usually a three-month delay before the hair is shed. But when it does there is a noticeable increase in hair loss and widespread thinning for a further three to six months.  It’s quite normal to lose around 40 – 100 hairs each day, but any more than this and it may be worth a visit to your doctor or a hair and scalp specialist.

What exactly is Stress?

A helpful definition of stress is ‘The perceived imbalance between demands made on an individual and that person’s ability to cope with those demands’.  Or, in other words, the difference (whether true or false) between the way you think you can deal with your problems, and the way in which you actually can deal with them.

What causes Stress, and Why does Stress Cause Hair Loss?

It’s not just the stress itself – work, money troubles, violence, oppression, accidents, illness – but the threat and the perceived threat of those problems that can put us under pressure and strain. How we think and feel about a given situation is very important. For instance, in our society the threat of violence to women causes just as much anxiety and stress to the individual’s biological system as the violence itself would.  Similarly if you feel you can’t cope with a particular situation, you will experience stress anyway.

So, whether you can cope in reality or not, your physical and emotional health will suffer, and this will in turn affect the condition of your hair and scalp.

One of my Clients some time ago came to me with her alopecia problem – her name is Ann…

Ann’s case history

Ann’s alopecia was caused by stress. She went through a very traumatic time when her husband suffered a heart attack; he was off work for four months and is now fit again and back at work. However the shock affected Ann so badly that she began to lose her hair and within six weeks had to resort to wearing a wig.

Obviously she found this very depressing. But then she remembered reading an article in the local paper about my Hair Research Clinic in Eastbourne and decided to make an appointment.

I began her treatment with the Eucaderm Home Care Pack no.1 and very soon her hair began to grow again. She was so excited that she decided to make an appointment to have a hair-cut six weeks later. ‘It was marvellous to go in with a wig on, have a hair-cut, and then come out without a wig’ she said after the appointment.

Later, the local paper published her story with photographs showing her as she had been when she had lost her hair, and again when it had re-grown. I admire her greatly for having the courage to go public with her story in order to help others who have the same problem.

Tranquillisers

Many kinds of drugs can affect the condition of our hair and scalp, and tranquillisers are no exception.  These days, a lot of people take them for their ‘nerves’, but while they are a short-term help, they can be highly addictive and tend to dull true emotions. Often there are unpleasant side effects such as a dry mouth and fatigue.  As some of these side effects are similar to stress responses, the body may confuse them with stress itself, and begin the panic cycle all over again.

Another negative aspect of tranquillisers is that they can divorce you from your emotions and make you feel as if you’re in a daze, unable to decide what you want out of life and what you would like to change – they can also sap you of the energy to make those changes.  I would only recommend their use to tide you over a short-term crisis and would encourage you to withdraw from them with the help of your doctor.  Always check with your doctor before changing your medication because if it is badly handled, withdrawal can be dangerous and unpleasant.

Simple Stress Proofing

Stress management looks at your whole life-style and your way of doing things.  For instance your attitude to competition, success, failure, your self-image, how you think you ought to behave, and how you treat yourself.  Follow these simple ways to control your stress and anxiety levels.

  • Find a place at home where you can go to be quiet, and practice relaxation skills.
  • Take short breaks during the day.
  • Get into a habit of checking your muscle tension levels whenever you remember.
  • Slow down.  By concentrating on one thing at a time you will feel less tired and will have more energy to spare in the long run.
  • Your body, and your hair and scalp will benefit from a simpler, less stressful life!

Don’t forget your Diet

Vitamin supplements and exercise; the basic guidelines are to eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit.  Make sure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need and try to avoid junk food, sugar and fat, as much as possible.
However, also remember that by being too strict and denying yourself, you can sometimes induce stress.  So if you must eat something that’s a bit naughty, make sure you enjoy it – guilt hurts the colon!  More info about Diet here.

Please also read my other articles and the Eucaderm Client Reviews, about how the Eucaderm TN25 Live Enzymes and vitamins Supplements have helped countless people, here on this site.  Check out the Eucaderm Shop for vitamins and supplements.

There’s a very interesting article from Amber Foster at HairlossRevolution.com   Click this link to read more about why stress can affect hair loss.

Back again soon,
David