If you are beginning to notice thinning hair or experiencing hair loss, you are probably anxious to find out the cause. Various factors cause hair loss, and it's normal for your hair to change in texture and thickness throughout your lifetime. While age and genetics play a significant role in maintaining a full, healthy head of hair, other factors, including stress, can cause hair loss.
Normal Hair Loss
Your hair doesn't stay attached to your scalp indefinitely. Human hair grows in phases, a process referred to as the natural hair growth cycle. The growth cycle consists of four distinct stages, which take several years to complete for each strand of hair on your head. During the final stage of the cycle, the strand of hair is released from the hair follicle and is shed naturally before being replaced by new hair growth.
The average scalp contains around 100,000 strands of hair, and it is normal to shed between 100 and 150 strands every day. These hairs shed naturally, and you find them on your clothes or pillow when they fall free. Shampooing, blow-drying, and brushing your hair can also cause these loose hairs to fall out and account for the hair on your brush or in the drain after you shampoo. Several things can cause increased hair shedding, including high-stress levels.
The Connection Between Stress and Hair Loss
Studies have found that significant emotional stress from a negative life event can trigger a change in the normal hair growth cycle. Severe or prolonged stress due to the loss of a loved one, divorce, medical issues, or other life-changing events can negatively impact your scalp and hair health. Research has found that high-stress levels are associated with three specific types of hair loss.
Telogen effluvium is a form of hair loss caused by large numbers of hair follicles transitioning into a resting phase simultaneously. Usually, the majority of your hair follicles are in a growth stage at any given time. High levels of stress can trigger a sudden shift and cause the hair follicle to enter the resting phase, where hair stops growing and is eventually shed. This condition can cause affected hairs to fall out suddenly within a few months of the triggering event.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune hair loss condition triggered by severe and prolonged stress. The condition causes the body's immune system to attack the hair follicles, damaging them and inhibiting their ability to produce new hair growth. Alopecia areata typically causes spots or patches of hair loss but can involve the entire scalp and other areas of the body. This type of hair loss sometimes grows back on its own but may also require treatment to restore hair completely.
Severe emotional stress can also cause a hair loss condition known as trichotillomania or hair-pulling disorder. This condition is a mental disorder characterized by an uncontrollable urge to pull hair out from the scalp and other body areas. People with trichotillomania experience a brief positive feeling as hair is removed, helping them deal with intense negative emotions. While the condition may give momentary comfort, the long-term urge can result in visible hair loss creating additional psychological stress.
We Can Help!
While there is a known connection between severe stress and hair loss, it doesn't have to be permanent. Many people find that their hair grows back once they have their stress under control, and there are treatments available to help promote the regrowth of your hair.
If you are noticing increased hair shedding or experiencing hair loss, our team at Mane Image can help determine the cause and recommend steps you can take to stop and even reverse the hair loss process. To learn more about how stress can cause hair loss and what you can do to restore your natural, full head of hair, contact us today and schedule your FREE initial consultation.