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Does Stress Cause Hair loss?

Does Stress Cause Hair loss?

Last Updated on Aug 25, 2016
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What is Hair Loss?

Hair loss or alopecia refers to hair loss or reduction of hair due to any cause. Baldness is the term used to refer hair loss from the scalp but ideally, it can mean loss of hair from any hairy region of the body.


Some of the reasons of hair thinning and fall include malnutrition, the use of chemotherapy for cancer treatment and ageing.

Can Stress cause Hair Loss?

Conditions that are stressful like severe illnesses or major surgeries can cause hair loss. Stress is known to be associated with hair loss in three different ways.

Telogen Effluvium: During a stressful situation, hair that are in the growing process cease to grow and fully mature. These hair fall out while combing, washing or styling.

Trichotillomania: Trichotillomania is characterized by an irresistible urge to pull one’s own hair from the scalp or other hairy areas of the body. This is done in an attempt to cope with negative feelings such as frustration, anger, anxiety or stress.

Alopecia areata: Alopecia areata is also called spot baldness. Sudden loss of large clumps of hair occurs from certain areas of the scalp. It is mostly associated with autoimmune diseases, though it may also be caused by stress.

How does Stress cause Hair Loss?

Stressful conditions trigger the release of stress hormones into the bloodstream.. The adrenal glands release adrenaline to increase the heart rate and blood flow to the limbs to help the person cope with the situation either by fighting or running away. Stress also stimulates the production of androgens. Such hormonal changes can have adverse effects on various parts of the body, including the hair resulting in hair loss.


Stress can also affect the scalp resulting in dry and itchy scalp and flare-ups of scalp conditions like eczema and psoriasis, which can worsen hair loss.

The hair loss may also be due to some condition that co-exists with the stress, for example a thyroid disorder. Therefore, it is necessary to rule out other causes of hair loss even if the person complains of stress.

Ways to Prevent Hair Loss Due to Stress

Stress can lead to hair loss, but fortunately, this hair loss can be stopped and reversed. One important way of treating stress-related hair loss is to reduce the source of the stress.

  • Confirm the cause of hair loss. If the hair loss is not due to stress, then hair loss may cause stress.
  • If the hair loss is caused by stress, then work on reducing the factors that increase the stress levels. The hair can grow back on its own once the stress is reduced.
  • Get enough sleep. Improve on the quality of sleep by removing external stimulants such as a scary movie or bright screens of laptops or mobiles just before sleeping.
  • Adopt simple home remedies for hair loss like using naturally available ingredients like hibiscus and henna.

Healthy Diet to Prevent Hair Loss

  • Never skip breakfast. Include more proteins in the breakfast.
  • Eat at least three well balanced meals per day, at regular intervals.
  • Increase your intake of vitamins and minerals that promote hair growth and maintenance. These include vitamin B, C and E and minerals such as zinc, magnesium and selenium.
  • Food rich in monounsaturated fat can help in growth of hair. They can be found in nuts, oily fish and avocados.
  • Avoid low calorie diets as they usually lack healthy micronutrients needed for healthy hair growth.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables, preferably in the raw state to prevent loss of vitamins due to cooking.
  • Increase proteins in your diet with whole grains, pulses, lean protein and dairy products.

Hair Care

  • Use a shampoo and conditioner that suits your hair type.
  • Avoid hair products that contain too many chemicals like sulfates or parabens.
  • Washing hair every two or three days is reasonably good. Avoid washing hair too often as it can damage the texture and make them brittle.
  • Using natural hair masks like almond and henna can help maintain texture and moisture in the hair and help them grow.
  • Get your hair trimmed every eight to ten weeks to eliminate split ends and further damage.

Exercise and Yoga

  • Exercise helps in alleviating the negative emotions that cause stress.
  • Yoga or meditation calms the mind and reduces stress levels.
  • Take time off from work or stressful conditions.
  • If the stress is caused by a situation that cannot be avoided, such as loss of a relationship, then give yourself time to come out of it.

Health Tips

  1. Healthy meals and gradual weight loss is a healthy way to lose weight. Avoid low calorie diets or other ways of quick weight loss.
  2. Some medications can cause hair fall. They include blood thinners, lithium, methotrexate, NSAIDs and beta-blockers. Talk to your doctor about the concern.
  3. Excess of vitamin A can cause hair loss. Check your intake of vitamin A before cutting on them.
  4. Include protein rich foods in your diet.
  5. Avoid styling your hair with tools such as straighteners and hair dryers.
  6. Avoid chemical dyes and colors for hair.


  1. Telogen effluvium - (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telogen_effluvium)
  2. About Telogen effluvium - (http://www.dermnetnz.org/hair-nails-sweat/telogen-effluvium.html)
  3. Can stress cause hair loss? - (http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/expert-answers/stress-and-hair-loss/faq-20057820)
  4. Hair loss - (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hair_loss)

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