Thinning hair and hair loss can be triggered by a variety of environmental factors, medical conditions, and less obvious factors such as stress. Everyone experiences some natural hair loss as part of the normal hair growth cycle, but lifestyle and unforeseen issues can often lead to high-stress levels, which can lead to thinning hair and hair loss.
Stress and How It Affects Bodily Functions
Stress is a normal feeling that has several benefits and can help you to deal with everyday challenges. When the brain perceives stress, the body releases hormones, and chemicals that create a burst of energy, enabling you to accomplish tasks more efficiently. Regular stress can help you perform at your peak and also stimulate the body's survival instinct or fight-or-flight response.
While some stress is beneficial, chronic or long-lasting stress can severely impact your health, interfering with the normal function of nearly every system in the body. If ignored for an extended amount of time, chronic stress can suppress your immune system, affecting both mental and physical health. Chronic stress can alter our moods and increase the likelihood of many illnesses and conditions, including obesity, heart attack, stroke, and thinning hair or hair loss.
How Does Stress Affect Your Hair
Chronic stress can cause your body to enter a survival mode where vitamins and essential resources are diverted to core activities needed to maintain critical functions. When this happens, tasks that are less critical to survival, such as good skin, blood flow, and hair health, often suffer.
Severe prolonged stress can reduce blood flow to the scalp, causing hair follicles to enter a stage of arrested growth. This interruption of the natural hair cycle can impair the hair follicle's ability to produce healthy strands of hair. Unhealthy hair follicles tend to produce thinner hairs that are prone to breakage, causing noticeably thinning hair. Left untreated chronic stress may lead to conditions that permanently damage the follicle and leave it unable to produce hair. Chronic stress is known to be related to three specific types of hair loss conditions in men and women.
Trichotillomania, or hair-pulling issue, is a condition characterized by irresistible urges to pull out hair from your scalp and other body areas. For some people, trichotillomania symptoms are mild and manageable, but the constant urge to pull hair is overwhelming for others.
Hair pulling can provide a temporary feeling of relief from high-stress situations but may also cause additional stress. People with trichotillomania often have a sense of tension before or when they attempt to resist the urge. The act of pulling hair typically causes a temporary feeling of pleasure or relief after the episode. The disorder can cause patchy bald spots on the scalp, which people often try to hide, creating an additional source of stress that interferes with usual daily activities.
Autoimmune diseases make the immune system attack the body's own tissue and cells. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the hair follicles. The condition causes the hair to stop growing, eventually breaking off and falling out. Alopecia areata typically causes hair to fall out in small patches in an unpredictable pattern.
Telogen effluvium is a form of hair loss that typically occurs after high-stress levels have caused a large number of hair follicles to enter the growth cycle's resting phase. Hair loss is usually first noticed at the crown of the head, and simply combing or washing your hair can cause the affected hairs to fall out suddenly.
We Can Help!
Thinning hair and hair loss can be caused by many factors and conditions, including chronic stress. If you have been dealing with prolonged periods of stress and are beginning to notice thinning hair or hair loss, our team of experts at Mane Image can help determine the cause of your hair loss, any underlying issues, and offer proven solutions to help both men and women. To learn more about how stress can lead to hair loss and schedule your FREE initial consultation, contact us today.