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Can Stress Cause Hair Loss?

A healthy hair growth cycle sees individual strands being in different stages at once, so some will be growing, some will be resting and you will also notice a healthy amount of hair loss too; but what counts as excessive hair loss and is this caused by stress?

The telogen phase of the hair growth cycle is when the hairs finish their dormant stage and naturally fall out, so that new, healthy hairs can come through and restart their journey. However, when the body experiences sudden stress, whether this is physical or mental, a common side effect is that the hairs instantly prematurely enter the telogen phase, and as a result are lost much earlier than they are meant to have been.

Hair loss that occurs as a result of alopecia areata can also be associated with a high level of stress. However, it is most common for stressful situations to cause premature hair loss via telogen effluvium (which is explained above). If you are suffering from this however, you will notice the hairs falling out suddenly, like when you are combing or washing the hair.

Stress can also cause hair loss in a more indirect way, via trichotillomania. This is a compulsive disorder, whereby the sufferer sub-consciously pulls out their own hair (whether it is hair from the head, eyebrows or other areas of the body). This is related to stress as trichotillomania has been known to be a way to cope with negative or uncomfortable circumstances.

The other side of stress induced hair loss is that it doesn't have to be permanent. Finding an alternative way of coping with the situation, and getting it under control could result in the hair growing back. However it is always best to consult your doctor if you notice any kind of hair thinning or loss.

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