Hair health is closely linked to mental health. That’s why many people develop hair loss after going through an emotional shock, a stressful episode in their lives or after being diagnosed with anxiety or depression. Every single one of these cases can cause what is medically known as “stress-related alopecia”, a physical reaction to a psychological problem that leads to temporary hair loss.
However, it is important to note that the “temporary” factor will depend on it’s intensity and extension, as well as on the mental health status of those who suffer from it. Therefore, it is extremely important to get medical care as soon as possible.
Usually, hair loss will last a couple of weeks and, in severe cases, some months. During this period, it is essential to look for a customized treatment that gets to the heart of the problem, since that’s the best way to end its progress.
Regarding the differences between stress-related alopecia and the other two main types, androgenic and areata, we can say that, while androgenic alopecia gradually advances and areata suddenly appears in the form of patchy bald spots after a progressive follicular debilitation, stress-related alopecia causes an extreme hair loss in a short period of time.
Episodes usually last from 5 to 10 days and its intensity is determined by the patient’s stress level. If a person is suffering both from androgenic or areata alopecia and stress-related alopecia at the same time, the latter one will have to be treated first in order to successfully recover the hair.
Although there are several hair health treatments with interesting results in patients diagnosed with stress-related alopecia, people usually assist to psychotherapy to find the source of their problem, because otherwise, hair loss will persist. All the same, as we pointed out before, it’s important for patients to be treated by a hair health specialist, because alopecia is often caused by different reasons at the same time.
Whatever the case, people diagnosed with this problem are generally prescribed Minoxidil or multivitamins so, once hair starts growing again, they receive intralesional amino acid injections or stem cell treatment to restore hair strength.
Stress-related alopecia classification
These are the 3 types of hair loss related to high stress levels:
- Telogen effluvium: in this case, stress disrupts the growth phase and sends signals to our body, so our hair follicles start the resting phase. Once this phase starts, the patient notices a sudden and intense hair loss when washing it, brushing it or in the pillow after waking up.
- Trichotillomania: due the distress caused by the impossibility of solving a negative situation, the patient pulls the hair from his head or from other parts of his body.
- Alopecia areata: in this case, the immune system starts attacking its own hair follicles. This leads to the appearing of small circular bald spots, which, if left untreated, could spread through the entire scalp.
Whenever a doctor determines hair loss is closely related to the patient’s stress level, it is essential to reduce it so it’s possible to stop alopecia and, little by little, allowing new hair to grow. Some of the things that can improve hair regrowth are:
- A healthy diet: the same way an unhealthy diet can lead to hair debilitation and loss, a healthy one, rich in fruits and vegetables, can contribute to relieving stress and boost hair growth. The key elements that need to be included in our diet during stressful periods are iron, proteins, selenium, zinc, vitamins A and B, and Omega-3, all essential for hair growth.
- Exercising: moderate physical exercise is as important as a healthy diet and it needs to become a part of our daily routine. Exercising not only reduces stress levels because it makes your body release “happiness hormones”, but it makes your hair grow healthy and strong.
- A fixed schedule: one of the best anti-stress therapies is to set an everyday schedule to wake up, eat, have lunch, have a snack, have dinner, exercise and sleep. If we take this advice along with the previous ones, we’ll be able to reduce the effects of anxiety and stress significantly.
- Meditation: every relaxation method, like the ones promoted by yoga, pilates and other disciplines that help us meditate and improve breathing, encourage us to balance our minds and our lives, therefore reducing stress and enhancing our hair health.
All these recommendations, along with the ones given by your doctor, will help you end with stress and, with the stroke of a pen, hair loss will be over.