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“Stress Will Make Your Hair A Mess” by Trichologist, Dr. Kari Williams

Stress Will Make Your Hair A Mess

by Trichologist, Dr. Kari Williams

The holiday seasons are upon us. Money is tight and bills still have to be paid. We experience different levels of stress on a daily basis, but heightened levels of stress can affect our health, interrupt the hair growth cycle and ultimately—make your hair a mess!

Stress has a profound affect on our bodies manifested in the forms of cancers, hypertension and even weight gain. The hair is the barometer of health so when there are imbalances in your body the hair will signal this imbalance. It may become dry, brittle and begin to break easily. Styles won’t have the same flair they used to have and your hair will look very dull. All of these elements produce a series of really bad hair days, but usually the hair will begin to fall out and rebounding from this form of hair loss requires a lot of patience and discipline.

There are two different types of stress-physiological and emotional. The physiological stress can be signaled by nutritional deficiencies or hormonal fluctuations due to diet, medications, illnesses or lifestyle changes. When this form of stress presents itself in the body it interrupts the hair growth cycle by causing large numbers of hair to enter the telogen (shedding) phase at once.  This leaves patchy hair loss throughout the scalp. Typically, once the stress is addressed and physiological balance is restored, the hair will grow back.

Now the emotional stress is the form of stress we are all familiar with. It is the emotional stress that we are constantly struggling to balance. There is an emotional connection to physiological stress. The short-term, everyday emotional stress that we encounter does not cause hair loss, but it’s the emotional triggers from long periods of stress that lead to bad habits and create physiological imbalances that cause hair loss. For example, the emotional stress in the form of grief when someone dies does not cause hair loss, but the sudden weight loss, lack of sleep and improper intake of nutrients as a result of the grief causes the hair loss.

There is a psychological disorder called Trichotillomania. This disorder is characterized by an irresistible urge to pull hair out from the scalp, eyebrows or other areas of the body to deal with negative or uncomfortable feelings such as stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness or fatigue. In this case, seek help with a psychologist or therapist. The root of the problem must be addressed to see improvement with this hair loss disorder.

Overall, we must find healthy ways to deal with stress. Yes, it affects the hair, but it impacts our entire body. Not everyone loses hair from stress, but it may manifest in the body in other ways. If you are experiencing forms of hair loss and you are under some form of stress, I encourage you to see your healthcare provider. They may be able to help you identify the stressor that is causing the hair loss, but most importantly rule out any additional systemic conditions that could be contributing to your hair loss. Hair loss is an early sign for more that 20 different diseases. Once the cause of stress is identified, you can gain control over your emotions and find productive ways to channel them-your hair should return to normal.

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{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Isa December 5, 2012, 5:34 pm

    I think I may be having stress related shedding. It has been falling out way more than I remember for a few months now. Is it supposed to last that long? I didn’t know my stress was that high but I had an anxiety attack on election day. I felt like I was in fight or flight mode for over 24 hours. I don’t know whats stressing me out inside. My foster Mom passed away in the summer and my job is unstable……I guess those things could explain it. I guess I should start taking my MSM again? It didn’t seem to be helping so I stopped.

  • Yvette Sterling December 30, 2012, 8:57 pm

    I just decided to go natural again. My previous journey started when my hair was falling out in the nape. It itched a lot and the hair fell out more until there was a large bald spot. My hair was longer then so I could hide it. My beautician and I decided not to relax that area to see what would happen. The hair grew back but once the relaxer was put on, it fell out again. So I decided to stop relaxing my hair. I waited for about 8 weeks, then I did the big chop. My journey lasted almost a year and I couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t know what to do with my hair. So I relax it :( . Now the hair is falling out in the same area. Now I definitley will not relax my hair anymore. The last relaxer I had was November 21, 2012. I have a short hair cut and the new grow is already showing in the back (nape). If anyone has any ideas on what type of styles to sport until I do the big chop, that would be great. The back and the sides near the ears are to short to curl. I don’t want to use heat. Today, I washed, wrapped it and got under the hair dryer. The hair is growing back this time as well. I just need to be patient this time around and learn to take care of my natural hair.


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