Can Stress Cause Hair Loss in Women?
Put simply, yes, stress can cause hair loss in women. Hair loss in women can be caused by a variety of factors, only one of which is stress.
Stress has a unique definition for most individuals. Scientifically, stress is any disruption of your body's homeostasis caused by a person's unique social, psychological, and biological systems. While some stress is necessary and apparent in life, if stress is present in high amounts, there are many negative side effects associated, including hair loss.
Hair Loss Caused by Stress
Hair loss in women caused by stress is typically divided into two different types of hair loss. The more common type of hair loss due to stress is known as telogen effluvium, while the lesser common type is known as alopecia areata. Both conditions are associated with the same symptom of hair loss, but the hair is lost due to different reasons.
Stress and Telogen Effluvium
Hair loss, when caused by stress, is usually a specific type of hair loss, known as telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss due to changes in the normal cycle of your hair. It typically occurs when your normal and natural bodily system is shocked emotionally or physically. This shock is cause for the hair follicles to enter a state of rest causing the hair to fall out. Telogen effluvium hair loss is typically only temporary, as the follicles will again become reactive once the period of stress has passed, allowing new hair to grow. This type of hair loss can be caused by any type of emotional stress (death in family, relationship troubles, work stress) or physiological stress (nutritional deficiencies, excessive weight loss, metabolic disturbances, surgery, or high fever). It should be noted that it may take months for growth of hair to begin again after periods of stress.
Stress and Alopecia Areata
Hair loss, when caused by stress, can also be another type of hair loss, known as alopecial areata. This type of hair loss is less common due to stress in comparison to telogen effluvium. Alopecia areata is caused by white blood cells attacking otherwise healthy hair follicles, causing a stop of hair growth. After a certain period of time, usually weeks, the hair will fall out. Hair loss is typically isolated to a small round patch, but if the stressful events continue, can affect the entire head of an individual and sometimes be cause for loss of body hair. Typically, hair will grow back once the stressful event is resolved, but treatment may be necessary and is recommended.
Stress, Hair Loss, and You
If you believe your hair loss to be caused by the presence of stress, you should begin by consulting your physician. Your physician may refer you to a dermatologist, who will evaluate your specific hair loss situation. With the aid of your physician or dermatologist, you can develop a treatment or combination of treatments to ensure the best probability for hair re-growth when lost due to stress.