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Hair Loss and Clinical Stress

We know that stress can wreak havoc with our bodies and minds, affecting everything from memory and concentration to snacking habits. Stress affects everybody; but in extreme or sustained periods of stress, this natural response may cross the clinical threshold for ill-health.

Hair Loss and Clinical Stress

We know that stress can wreak havoc with our bodies and minds, affecting everything from memory and concentration to snacking habits. Stress affects everybody; but in extreme or sustained periods of stress, this natural response may cross the clinical threshold for ill-health.

Stress

It is certainly true that clinical stress is not the same as simply feeling stressed. The body’s stress response is biochemical: most of us are aware of the effect stress may have on hypertension (high blood pressure), or a heart condition. First and foremost, however, the stress response is neurochemical.  Stressors activate the release of cortisol in the brain, which in the short term focuses concentration and speeds reaction times. In the long term, high levels of cortisol over long periods of time can lead to serious mental health problems.

Stress-related hair loss

This is known as clinical stress.  Clinical stress can be responsible for sleeping problems, poor concentration and memory, anxiety, and clinical depression. It can also cause thinning hair.

Stress-related hair loss can occur in three different ways:

1. Trichotillomania

Profiled in this blog last week, Trichotillomania is a compulsive disorder in which sufferers pluck hair from their scalp, eyebrows, or other areas of the body. It can be a way of dealing with negative emotions including stress, tension, boredome, or loneliness.

2. Alopecia areata

A variety of factors are believed to cause alopecia areata, possibly including severe stress. In this hair loss disorder, the body’s immune system is activated inappropriately to attack the hair follicles, causing hair loss.

3. Telogen effluvium

When we talk about ‘stress-related hair loss’, this is usually the condition we’re thinking of. Significant stress places large numbers of hair follicles into a ‘resting’ stage of growth. In the 1-3 months following an especially stressful event such as illness or trauma, or a prolonged period of severe stress, affected hairs may fall out suddenly. Sufferers often notice losing an unusual amount of hair while brushing or washing their hair.

Recovery is possible

In cases of telogen effluvium, hair loss is apparent in thinning hair, not lost as patches or in a pattern. When stress is relieved, hair may grow back naturally, but it is important to correctly diagnose the reason for hair loss.

If you are experiencing hair loss, it may be worth contacting a specialist hair clinic such as The Wimpole Clinic for diagnosis and advice – and treatment, if required.

Clinical stress is a serious mental health condition which can be managed. For information and support, visit https://www.mind.org.uk/

Next week: Can hairloss cause depression?

The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair Transplants, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants, PRP & Trichology. Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861 or contact us using the form below.

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