Where Does Stress Cause Hair Loss?

If you’re not a robot, you’re going to get stressed in various periods of your life. It is impossible to build a life without being stressed, whether it is caused by your job, family life, relationships with friends and love interests, or finances. In this case, while some of us learn to live with stress, some others may fail to handle it. While a little stress is useful for the individual, enabling physical and mental development, extreme stress is indispensably and eventually harmful. In fact, one of the aftereffects of excessive stress is hair loss, which can jeopardize not only your health, but also your life quality, relationships, and social standing. If you are experiencing hair loss and thinking it might be caused by stress and anxiety, here are the common symptoms of stress-related hair loss provided by Olivia Clinic:

  • Thinning hair, particularly from hairline and crown
  • Big bunches of hair falling every day
  • Evident thinning up top on the scalp, in patches or otherwise
  • More than typical daily hair fall (losing hair more than 100-150 strands per day)
  • Too much hair in shower, brush or pillow

Where does the stress-related hair loss occur? We have to probe into the most common stress-related hair loss diseases and try to see the pattern. There are 3 main stress-related hair loss occasions, namely telogen effluvium, alopecia areata, and trichotillomania. In both telogen effluvium and alopecia areata, most of the hair loss occurs in the scalp. While in both cases there could be also a body-hair loss to some extent, in telogen effluvium, this situation is less likely. Moreover, while in alopecia areata full hair loss on the scalp can occur, in telogen effluvium the loss is mostly in patches and regional. When it comes to trichotillomania, most of the stress-related hair loss observed to be in the scalp and the around the eye (eyelashes, eyebrows etc.)

Types of Stress-Related Hair Loss

Telogen effluvium

This is conceivably the most well-known kind of stress-related hair loss. With telogen effluvium, which is a medical term meaning excessive hair loss, stress may send various hair follicles into a resting stage, preventing the hair from developing. A while later, the hair attached to the affected follicles may begin to drop out all of a sudden, in a greater volume than ordinary.

This disorder may influence all body hair, yet the loss in scalp hair is usually more symptomatic and conspicuous. The ordinary fallout rate of scalp hair in a healthy individual is around 100 hair strands every day. However, in instances of telogen effluvium, the patient can have around 300 hair strands falling each day.

This kind of alopecia is common in the world, and it is estimated that a large percentage of individuals have encountered acute telogen effluvium sooner or later in their lives. The condition isn’t dangerous however it demonstrates a few imbalances, diseases or stress in the life of the affected individual. At the end of the day, the disease itself which could be brought about by stress, may  create even more stress. Likewise, it might prompt a decrease in their confidence, and may likewise cause social fears and other mental disorders.

The treatment of telogen effluvium relies upon the diagnosis and the primary cause of the hair loss. As the condition has a reactive nature, it is usually resolved immediately when the underlying cause is eliminated.

There are two types of telogen effluvium:

Acute Telogen Effluvium

Acute telogen effluvium happens within 3 months of the cause of the spillage and does not last longer than half a year. In this sort, thinning and bitemporal retreating of the hair is observed. Sooner or later, the hair density becomes obsolete.

Patients with acute telogen effluvium usually complain of relatively sudden onset of hair loss. Cautious questioning usually reveals metabolic or physiologic stress 1-6 months before the beginning of the hair shedding. Physiologic anxieties that can prompt telogen effluvium include febrile illness, major injury, change in eating routine, pregnancy, and conveyance, and beginning a new medication.

Afterward, this intense condition can be changed into an unending form described by a steady, slow and perpetual character, and interminable hair loss can keep going for a considerable length of time. Be that as it may, in most cases, the illness will resolve unexpectedly over a period of around a half year.

Chronic Telogen Effluvium

In contrast to the acute kind, chronic telogen effluvium lasts longer than a half year. It is regularly seen in individuals who are over the middle age. Daily hair loss isn’t in extraordinary sums, yet, there is a perceptible decrease.

In both types, the vast majority of the hair loss happens on the scalp.
The diminishing may not happen all over the head. It’s regularly found in patches, particularly toward the central point of the scalp. Generally, there are not many complaints of body hair loss.

Alopecia areata

With alopecia areata, the immune system turns on the hair follicles and makes hair drop out. In other words, the white blood cells mistakenly assault the hair follicles and influence hair development badly. There might be a few factors causing this kind of hair loss, and stress is associated to be one of them.

Alopecia areata happen as small roundabout patches with prominent lines. Therefore, it usually starts with one or more small, round, smooth patches. The affected follicles turn out to be very small, and the regeneration of the hair radically slows down, and no hair grows over the surface for a considerable length of time or years. The scalp is usually the most influenced region, however, the facial hair (beard, mustache…) or any hair-bearing site can also be affected alone or together with the scalp. The hair loss in some people is only limited to a small area, therefore the hair grows back within a year. In others, extensive hair loss occurs, and in a few, all scalp hair is lost (alopecia totalis) or, hair is lost from the whole scalp plus the body. (alopecia universalis). However, it should be noted that alopecia areata is characterized as an illness that does not create wound tissue, is reversible and has no preference for age, gender or race. In fact, according to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation 147 million worldwide have or will develop alopecia areata eventually in their lives.


This condition is altogether different than the previous two, as it includes a person compulsively pulling out their own hair from their head, eyebrows, eyelashes and from other parts of the body. A person usually develops this condition as a method of coping with stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, or boredom, and cannot fight the urge to pull off her hair. Even though trichotillomania mostly occurs in females, the men are no exception to the disease.

How to Cope With Stress-Related Hair Loss

If your situation does not have a chronic character, the hair will usually grow back on its own. If the hair loss is indeed brought about by stress, the significant point of treatment ought to be on limiting or eliminating that stress. Try not to get into the vicious cycle of stressing about your hair loss which was caused by stress in the first place. The hair may not magically grow back in a week, but it eventually will; therefore, having patience plays a great role in dealing with your stress-related hair loss.

Evelyn Boon, who is the Senior Principal Psychologist from the Department of Psychiatry at Singapore General Hospital shares some hints to assist you with stress management. (Healthexchange.sg)

  • Eliminate the so-called stress relievers such as alcohol or smoking, which are harmful to our health and wellbeing, and are only providing a temporary solution without erasing the main cause of stress.
  • Eat healthily. Consume a lot of fruits and vegetables, alongside complex carbohydrates. A good diet likewise includes moderate measures of protein while staying low in fat.
  • Cut on drinks which consist of caffeine. Drinking too much coffee, tea, and other caffeine-containing drinks may increase your overall anxiety. Therefore, the advice is not to drink coffee and related products after 6 pm.
  • Do whatever exercise you are comfortable with. You can either go to the gym or just prefer regular walks, as long as you do the exercise type you prefer regularly. While exercising, try not to worry about your daily life and relations and spare this exercising time as a ”me-time.”
  • Do not stay indoors and go out to enjoy life.
  • Keep your thoughts positive. Whenever a negative thought pops up in your head, try to replace it with something positive.
  • Unleash the inner child in you. Without worrying about how you should act in your age, try to re-engage with activities that you used to like when you were a child.
  • Get yourself adult coloring books to take away your stress. Unlike the common thought, coloring is not only for kids!
  • Do not doom yourself to failure by not setting realistic goals for yourself. Spare enough time to efficiently work for your goals and realize that things may not always result in favor of your wishes. If it is possible, the best is to lower your expectations all together so that the bad outcomes can affect you the least.
  • Work on your time management skills. When you have a handful of responsibilities and very little time to accomplish them, your stress levels will be higher. Therefore, always give yourself enough time to deal with what’s on your plate.
  • Learn to say ‘no’. Before rushing into solving other people’s problems or realizing their wishes, first address your own needs and work on them. Constantly saying ‘yes’ to everyone will cost your time and energy whereas you have so much to do for yourself. 
  • Have a ‘me-time’. As mentioned above, a person first needs to recognize and meet her own needs in order to keep a healthy mind. As soon as your wishes and needs are fulfilled, you may actually find more pleasure in making time for other people and activities.
  • Treat yourself. Connect with your senses and the outer world. Go to a spa or order a massage to revive your senses.
  • Apply Aromatherapy with the help of flower-scented oil. You can drop the oil to your warm bath water, to your clothes or your pillow. Feel refreshed by inhaling the sweet smell of the oil occasionally during the day.
  • Have a good sleeping schedule. Arranging your bedtime and wake-up hour and sticking to it every day is essential to reduce stress. Try to go to your bed feeling relaxed and happy, and avoid any stimulating devices or activities before bedtime.
  • Count to 10. If an issue which can make you angry, sad or nervous occurs, try to take a deep breath and starting counting: 1..2..3..4…10. By controlling your impulses before doing or saying anything, pausing for 10 seconds may make you calm and reduce the unpleasant feelings. In this way, you can avoid doing something that you’d regret.
  • Practice breathing activities. Expand your stomach like a balloon and breathe in slowly and profoundly. As you gradually breathe out, think about relaxing and let it saturate your whole existence, from the highest point of your head to the base of your feet. Give your pressure a chance to be “discharged” off of your feet.
  • Meditate. Meditation has recently been picked up and practiced by numerous individuals to help loosen up their brain as well as prompt them to focus on themselves.
  • Laugh as much as possible. Release endorphins, improve your overall mood. Laughing will help your body develop healthily. If you cannot find anything to laugh about, check some funny videos, stand-up shows and other possible productions that are made to make people happy.

Related Questions

Is Alopecia Areata inheritable? There are some signs that alopecia areata might be inherited. In 20% of Alopecia Areata patients, at least one other individual in the family is likewise influenced. It has also been noticed that individuals from a similar family tend to have a higher rate of immune system disorders. (Alopecia Areata Germany e. V.)

Is stress-induced hair loss reversible? Yes, in most of the cases, when the main reason for hair loss, stress, is tackled with, the hair regrows gradually.

Savaş Ateş

I'm a hair loss expert. The picture was taken 10 years ago :) I have been losing my hair. So I started to learn everything about hair loss and hair transplants. I contacted a lot of hair transplant doctors. We shared our experiences. I'm writing blog posts for people who have the potential of losing their hair. I give some tips about hair transplants and medical issues too.

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