Stress Related Hair Loss. We live busy, often stressful lives these days, and stress can take its toll on our bodies in many ways. One clear symptom of stress is increased hair loss. While sometimes severe, most stress-related hair loss is mild and curable.
Stress Related Hair Loss
The link between stress and hair loss is unquestioned. Increased stress can show itself in something called ‘Telogen Effluvium‘. This is a medical condition leading to hair loss. We’ve talked about ‘telogen’ on other pages, but what is Telogen effluvium? In severe cases of stress, it is responsible for larger portions of hair loss, where your hair falls out in ‘handfuls’. In the most severe cases, a person suffering stress related hair loss can lose almost all of their hair.
Telogen effluvium doesn’t actually cause hair loss, instead it causes the hair to stop growing. This is called the telogen phase of the hair cycle, where old hairs stop growing and are shed, causing new hair to grow back. More about the phases of hair growth.
How Minoxidil Helps
Minoxidil forces your hair in to the anagen phase, this is the growing phase, where follicles create new hairs.
Studies on some – now rather hairy – rats show that minoxidil specifically stimulates the follicles in the telogen phase, resulting in rapid progression back to anagen follicles. While the length of the anagen phase was not significantly increased, the hair follicles during this period grew very rapidly and the size of anagen follicles were markedly enlarged. You can read the whole article (although it’s a bit dry), here.
Alopecia Areata and Stress Related Hair Loss
Stress can also lead to a condition called Alopecia Areata. This condition causes the white cells in your blood to attack your hair follicles, leading to almost instant hair loss. Those suffering Alopecia Areata will see hair falling out in large patches, and total hair loss, or baldness, can occur in the space of just a few weeks.
After suffering hair loss due to Alopecia Areata, your hair will, very likely, grow back, almost as normal. However, in some instances treatment may be required. Minoxidil will stimulate your hair follicles, speeding the recovery process and giving you back a full head of hair.
The most important thing about “stress related hair loss” is the “stress” bit. If stress is causing your hair loss, consider tackling the causes of the stress, before the hair loss. There are thousand of web pages with all manner of exercises and techniques for managing stress, and most seem to say much the same things…
Deliberately Try to Relax. Taking a ten minute break and forcing yourself to close your eyes and count slowly to 50, really will help your stress levels. I know, it’s far easier to say than to do, but short bouts of breathing exercises, meditation and/or massage have been shown, time and time again, to reduce the build up and intensity of stressful situations.
Cut Out the Cr@p. Stop smoking, stop drinking alcohol and caffeine and anything else that isn’t right for you. You’ve heard it all before, but only because it’s sensible advice. Cigs and alcohol particularly are poisons. I’m not exaggerating there, they actually are poisons, but we tend to consume them in such small doses that we only feel the fringes of their effects. Make no mistake, alcohol and tobacco are poisons which will actively push up your stress levels – not to mention shorten your life!
Exercise More. If you can, join a gym and get on the walking machine. Walk on a flat surface for 30 minutes and you’ll release endorphins in to your body, which make you feel relaxed and happy. There’s no need to be obsessive or evangelical about your exercise, just do it regularly and quietly. It works – absolutely no doubt.