We’ve all experienced stress. Sometimes it’s a small, itching feeling. At other times it overwhelms us completely. Stress can have a devastating effect on our body, especially our hair.
Stress is an unfortunate but sometimes necessary part of life. It drives us to get things done and work to a deadline, however it is more commonly associated with negative physical and emotional reactions. High levels of stress can have a devastating effect on the body and mind, not least affecting the hair and scalp causing temporary hair loss.
Search trends for stress related hair loss have increased since the start of the pandemic, with more people suffering higher levels of stress because of Covid-19, causing their hair to fall out.
Why Does Stress Cause Hair Loss?
It is important to understand how stress affects our health and what we can do to manage it better to reduce the likelihood of hair loss.
Stress is our bodies natural response to feeling threatened. When we’re under threat, our nervous system reacts by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, preparing our bodies for emergency action. Problems arise because our bodies aren’t very good at distinguishing between physical life-or-death threats and emotional stress, such as working to deadlines and managing difficult relationships.
Over long periods of time, constant stress can take its toll in many ways, including a form of hair loss called Telogen Effluvium.
What is Telogen Effluvium?
The stress hormone cortisol is linked to the function of hair follicles. It pushes your hair follicles prematurely into the resting phase of their life cycle. This means that when cortisol levels are high, your hair weakens and can begin to shed, and adrenal glands produce fewer growth promoting hormones, meaning lost hair is not replaced as quickly as it normally would be.
This form of hair loss does not occur in patches, but in a general thinning over the scalp. Many people suffering from TE start noticing more hair shedding or a thinner ponytail before noticing thinning on the scalp itself.
You can find out more about Telogen Effluvium in our TE hair loss advice page.
How Long Does Telogen Effluvium Last?
The average time it takes for telogen effluvium to pass is up to nine months, however ensuring you have a healthy scalp and a balanced diet to encourage hair regrowth will help shorten this cycle. It is also important to identify and alleviate the cause of stress, the body cannot heal if the issue is on-going.
What Does Telogen Effluvium Regrowth Look Like?
Hair regrowth after telogen effluvium should return to normal within 18 months or so, though initial regrowth maybe a little more fragile and thinner than your hair was prior to TE. There are other signs of recovery you can look out for as well as hair regrowth, you can read more about these in our top telogen effluvium recovery signs page.
Other Ways Stress Can Trigger Hair Loss
Telogen effluvium is not the only type of hair loss caused by stress.
Trichotillomania, also known as trych, is a stress related habitual urge where the person is driven to pull their hair out repeatedly. This behaviour may mean pulling hair from the scalp but may also involve other areas of the body such as the eyebrows or lashes. Trichotillomania is common in teenagers and young adults but can affect children and adults too.
Trych may be related to low self-esteem and serves to increase negative feelings about the self, or a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. This psychological condition can result in thin or bald patches on the scalp or elsewhere across the body, and it is often very distressing for people who suffer from it.
Will Trichotillomania Sufferers Hair Grow Back? Trichotillomania Hair Regrowth
Trichotillomania sufferers will often undergo cognitive behavioural training to stop the behaviour and replace the habit with more positive actions. This also helps identify trichotillomania triggers so they can be avoided.
Once trichotillomania has been dealt with as a habit it is most likely that complete hair regrowth will occur withing a year. In extreme cases where pulling has continued for decades there may be permanent damage, but in most cases, hair will grow back as normal once it is given a chance to do so. Making sure you have a plan of action to encourage hair regrowth and ensure a healthy scalp, alongside CBT or other forms of therapy to stop the behaviour creates an optimum environment to promote healthy and fast hair regrowth.
Alopecia Areata Caused by Stress
Alopecia Areata is a condition that causes spots of baldness to appear randomly on the scalp. IT affects millions of people every year, with varied severity from penny sized clumps of hair loss to a total loss of hair form the scalp. Alopecia areata can affect men and women and often affects those under the age of 40.
What Causes Alopecia Areata?
Widely accepted to be an auto-immune disorder that causes our body to attack hair follicles and causes hair loss. What triggers this condition isn’t fully understood, and it is likely to be a combination of internal and external factors including genetic predisposition, environmental factors, emotional propensity, and a range of other factors. Stress and trauma are associated with the disorder, and certainly living with alopecia areata is a stress-inducing experience.
Alopecia Areata Treatment
Alopecia areata can be treated in a variety of ways from steroid injections to light therapy, and tablets to creams. You can support your alopecia areata treatment and encourage hair regrowth by maintaining a good diet and balanced lifestyle, as well as reducing stress levels and treating the remaining hair gently.
10 Tips to Help You De-Stress
De-stressing is a very personal process. Finding out what works for you is crucial, and luckily there’s lots to choose from!
- Make Time for Yourself
Give yourself me-time every day as part of your routine.
- Move Your Body
Stretch, workout or go for a walk. Anything that gets your energy flowing.
- Change Your Environment
Remove yourself from the noise or whatever is causing you stress and get some fresh air.
Just 15 minutes a day can reduce negative feelings and improve your overall wellbeing.
- Spend Time with Loved Ones
Socialising with friends and family can give you all the stress relief you need.
- Write Down What You’re Feeling
Let it all out on paper.
- Spend Time in Nature
Getting out in the great outdoors can help you to relax and improve your mood.
- Lean Into Self-Care
Relax in a hot bath, diffuse essential oils, apply a face mask, whatever makes you feel relaxed.
- Eat The Right, Nutritious Foods
Prioritise healthy eating and avoid stimulants and depressants like caffeine and alcohol.
Switch off from social media and the online world.
How Simone Thomas Wellness Can Help
Improving your diet by making sure you get the right vitamins and minerals can make a major difference to alleviating stress.
Our B complex vitamins can help to improve your mood and energy levels, which in turn reduces the negative side effects of stress on your hair. Foods such as salmon, leafy greens and legumes are high in B vitamins too, but B vitamins such as biotin aren’t stored in our bodies for long so supplementing your diet can also ensure you get the right amount your body needs to fight stress and to protect your hair.
Our Biotin Brilliance supplement is enriched with B vitamins to aid hair regrowth and reduce stress by providing our body with the biotin boost it needs. The beauty of our supplements is they can either be purchased individually or as part of our Biotin Hair Care Plan that contains Super Greens & Everyday Wellness to improve your overall health.
Outer health begins on the inside. Reducing stress is vital for maintaining your body’s overall health, and especially the health of your hair. Slow down, take a deep breath and give yourself time to relax. You deserve it.
Discover Biotin Brilliance today to start your journey to a healthier and calmer you.