Hair Loss from Stress – A Simplistic Perspective
Stressful life experiences can cause physiological changes. These events may cause hair to enter a resting phase known as telogen effluvium. They stop growing and eventually fall out.
A More In Depth Explanation
In the past experts have been emphasizing that there is no scientific evidence which shows that stressful events causes the type of hair loss that needs to be addressed through medications (e.g. Rogaine) or even hair restoration procedures. They bring up an interesting point by emphasizing the need to distinguish between two types of stress:
(1) Emotional stress
(2) Physiological stress
Emotional stress is a common part of life. So this does not mean that we will necessarily loose hair. However, when emotional stress leads to physiological changes, it is then possible that hair will fall out.
For example, stress from a divorce may cause a person to eat less. Not consuming enough calories will create a form of physiological stress that may induce a greater loss of hair than usual. Life events may also cause people to have trouble falling asleep. Since the body’s cells renew themselves when we sleep, any disruptions in these patterns can cause changes in our body’s status quo.
Other types of physiological stress that are linked with hair loss:
- Drastic weight loss
- Lowered estrogen
- Deficiencies in Vitamin D
- Side effects from medications
Hair Loss and Stress – New Research
New research from UCLA from 2011 suggests a new paradigm. Researchers created genetically altered mice that were bald because they produced excess amounts of stress hormones. When given a treatment for their stress, they were able to grow fur.
However, it should be noted that these are animal models, and the exact implications on humans is not clear.
Understanding Natural Hair Loss Cycles
The average person has between 120,000 to 150,000 hairs on their head. And it is normal to lose up to a hundred hairs on a daily basis. This is different from pattern baldness, where hair will not grow back and may be addressed with medication or even a hair transplant surgery.
Pattern baldness is caused by genetics. A person’s genes may code for sensitive receptors on the hair follicles. Exposure to DHT ( a byproduct of testosterone) will then cause hair to fall out.
Every hair follicle acts independently. So each is goes through its own life cycle. 90% of our head hairs are in an active growth phase. This means that they are growing by about half an inch each month for a period of two to three years.
10% of our hair is in a resting phase. They stop growing for about 3-4 months before they fall out. Again, certain types of stress can cause a greater number of hairs to enter their resting phase.
Hair loss from life stresses will most likely grow back. So if you are concerned about losing more hair than usual, it will be important to determine if your condition is related to genetics or a more simple cause that can be reversed.