Stress is an inevitable part of life. After all, it is your body's response to anything that makes you angry, frustrated, or fearful. While it can make you more alert and responsive, it can harm your health in the long run. In fact, prolonged stress can lead to the following manifestations:
• Fast respiratory and/or heart rate
• Shortness of breath
• High blood pressure
• Muscle tension
Stress also increases your chances of developing migraine, depression, pain, fever, colds, heart problems, stomach upset, and obesity.
Stress and Hair Loss
Apart from the above-mentioned conditions, prolonged stress can adversely affect your locks. Here are some hair disorders that may spring from your stressed-out state of mind:
• Telogen Effluvium
This temporary hair loss condition results from stress pushing your locks to ‘rest’. With hair in the telogen phase of the growth cycle, no new hair strands are produced.
While stress is a huge driver of telogen effluvium, poor nutrition and hormonal changes may cause this as well.
Compared to most conditions, the hair loss associated with telogen effluvium does not affect the entire head. Here, strands are usually lost in patches, especially in the central part of the scalp. As such, hairs are more likely to fall just by the simple actions of touching, combing, or washing.
Although telogen effluvium is the second-most common cause of hair loss, it's completely reversible. After all, it does not affect the hair follicles on the scalp.
Also known as the hair-pulling disease, the moniker is pretty self-explanatory for the condition. Considered a problem of impulse control, it prods a person to pull out hairs not only from the scalp but from the eyebrows and eyelashes as well.
Trichotillomania often occurs in a bored or distracted person, as the hair-pulling process usually happens without thought. In some cases, it may be an intentional way to get rid of stress and other negative emotions.
Trichotillomania, which is said to be genetic, often affects pre-teens. Unfortunately, this disorder can persist throughout the person’s entire lifespan.
• Alopecia Areata
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks its own hair follicles. It can be triggered by a lot of things, one of which is stress.
The condition affects as much as 6 million Americans.
In alopecia areata, hair loss manifests as round patches across the scalp. Shedding and growth can be a continuous cycle occurring from time to time.
Although there is no known cure for alopecia areata, there are some prescription drugs that may cut the hair loss rate in half.
How to Combat Stress-Related Hair Loss
What's great about stress-related hair loss is that there is something you could do about it. If you want to reduce your falling hairs, then you should follow these stress-reducing methods:
• Relaxation techniques
If your stress is taking a toll on your head hair, then you should start focusing on relaxation techniques. Not only do these reduce the levels of stress hormones, as they help minimize anger and frustration as well.
One good example is called autogenic relaxation. This involves the use of visual imagery and body awareness to minimize stress. It's about thinking of a peaceful scene as you perform breathing exercises.
Another option is progressive muscle relaxation, where you tense your muscles for 5 seconds - and relax them for the next 30 seconds. The process should start from your toes – while slowly working your way up to your head.
Visualization, which involves creating mental images of your ‘happy place’, is another good relaxation technique. While it’s all about seeing your mind’s eye, it best works if you hone in your other senses as well.
Yoga is an ancient Indian practice meant to improve one’s physical, mental, and spiritual health. Pioneered some 5,000 years ago, it has become one of the best ways to reduce stress. According to a study, regular yoga sessions may help reduce stress – as well as anxiety and depression.
Aromatherapy is a holistic practice that involves the use of essential oils, compounds, and other aromatic materials. While it is deemed a fancy act by many, science actually backs up its numerous claims. For one, a Korean study has shown that essential oil inhalation helps lower stress levels significantly.
While there are many aromatherapy oils out there, the best to try is bergamot. After all, a Chinese study has shown that this stress-reducing oil may help promote hair growth as well.
Exercise is not only good for the heart, it is beneficial for the mind as well. According to a study, exercise helps protect a person from the negative consequences of stress. More than just lowering one’s heart rate and blood pressure, it may help reduce the incidence of stress-related hair loss as well.
For several decades, a good diet has been used to improve brain health and prevent mood disorders. After all, the right food sources and supplements contain nutrients that may help reduce stress and anxiety, among many other things.
◦ B Vitamins
A popular example of a stress-busting nutrient is the B Vitamin family, for which a lot of studies have been made. Results show that they affect certain neurotransmitters that may dictate anxiety or depression. With that being said, supplementation with Vitamin B may lead to better mood and reduced stress and/or anxiety.
◦ Vitamin C
Ascorbic acid is a popular antioxidant. According to a study, it may help fight the oxidative stresses that could lead to anxiety. Results show just that, as participants reported lesser anxiety levels after 14 days of supplementation.
Apart from reducing stress, vitamin C also plays a crucial role in hair growth. With these benefits, it may be a promising supplement for those suffering from stress-related hair fall.
Magnesium helps in a variety of bodily processes. As such, low levels of this could lead to depressions. Apart from reducing symptoms, magnesium may help reduce stress and anxiety – as well as the consequences (hair loss) that may come with it.
Stress-related hair loss is not necessarily permanent. By addressing the issues that bring about stress – and practicing techniques that can reduce them - you can minimize hair fall and enjoy luxurious locks once again.