Avacor® Hair Regrowth Blog
27Nov/120

Stress and Hair Loss

In general, people are stressed.  We stress about work, we stress about relationships, we stress about money, we stress about family and friends and traffic and long lines at the grocery store.  We stress about getting married, having kids, and the importance of a proper work-life balance.

Photo from Synchealth.com

We stress about what to make for dinner.  Stress is a part of daily life for nearly everyone. Many media sources do their best to remind us that stress is bad for our health and could lead to premature signs of aging, increased risk of disease, and an untimely demise.  Not to mention wrinkles and thinning hair.

Wait – Thinning Hair? Can Stress Really Do That?

In a word, yes.  In a few more words, it’s not that simple.  There is an important distinction between emotional stress and physiological stress.  Working against an unexpected deadline at work, fighting with a friend or family member, and having to stand in line at the grocery store can cause you stress, but these are relatively short-lived emotional stressors.  Bigger stressors, such as the stress of getting married, having a child, losing a loved one, losing or gaining a large amount of weight, living in an abusive situation, or getting divorced can cause deeper physiological stress on your body, which can manifest in poor health and impact your body – including your hormones, mental functioning, skin, nails, and hair.  There is indeed some truth to the belief that stress can cause hair loss.

Hair loss can often be a consequence of excessive physiological stress, which can be brought on by a variety of sources, such as:

  • Crash diets and malnutrition
  • Chronic stress
  • Eating disorders
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Rapid weight gain or loss
  • Starting or stopping a medication
  • Surgery, illness (especially with a high fever), or injury

Note that these aren’t the small-picture emotional stressors of daily life, like running late or waiting in a long line.  Physiological stressors have a deeper reach and impact on your health.

When stress-related hair loss strikes, it isn't necessarily permanent.  Mayo Clinic psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Hall-Flavin purports that there are three types of hair loss typically associated with high levels of physiological stress: Alopecia areata, Telogen effluvium, and Trichotillomania.

Alopecia areata is a condition in which the white blood cells, or leukocytes, of the body’s immune system attack the body’s hair follicles, leading to bald spots on the scalp.  Alopecia totalis is hair loss of this type on the entirety of the scalp, and Alopecia universalis is the autoimmune loss of hair from the entire body.

Telogen effluvium refers to the telogen phase, also called the resting phase, of the hair follicle.  Severe stress can interrupt the hair’s growth cycle and cause mass shedding of hairs that have entered the telogen phase.

According to a featured article on medical website WebMD, the average head has 120,000 to 150,000 strands of hair, around 100 of which are naturally shed every day.  Approximately 90% of hairs growing on your head are in a growing phase for two to three years at a time before entering the resting (telogen) stage for up to four months before falling out so a new hair can replace it.  Telogen effluvium occurs when a physiological stressor interrupts the hair’s natural schedule, causing a large amount of hairs to rest at once, which then fall out three to four months later according to the hair cycle’s regular schedule.  This type of hair loss will correct itself provided the stressor causing the effect is removed.

Trichotillomania, or trichotillosis, is an impulse control disorder characterized by the uncontrollable urge to pull out one’s own hair, from the scalp, face, or other areas.  In many cases, trichotillomania is triggered by stress or depression.  Trichotillomania in young adults and adults can be treated with behavior therapy, psychiatric intervention, and medication if needed.  Often the hair-pulling behavior ceases when other underlying issues are treated.

Besides these three conditions that cause hair loss, your body may simply be taking a break from hair growth.  It is not uncommon to experience hair loss after a major surgery, recovery from an illness or high fever, or childbirth – because your body is paying more attention to your recovery from the medical trauma instead of growing your hair.  Since hair is not necessary to survival, the body may shut down hair production in times of excessive stress.  Though this is normal, it may still be beneficial to check with your doctor to rule out any other causes of hair loss that might be medically relevant.

Many women experiencing postpartum hair loss, and others experiencing temporary hair loss, benefit from some cosmetic styling tips to reduce the appearance of thinning hair.  Headbands and scarves can camouflage thinning hair, as can changing your style and switching to a side-part or using volumizing mousse to add fullness and texture.  The appearance of thinning hair can be hidden with a new haircut that focuses on volume and fullness to your hairstyle.

While some hair loss may be unavoidable as the body’s response to serious physiological stress, you can take steps to reduce the impact stress has on your life.  The following tips can help you manage your overall stress so that big events don’t have such a profound effect on your body.

Take care of your physical needs

  • Sleep: Lack of sleep leads to fatigue and increased stress levels.  Getting a full night’s sleep on a regular basis will help prevent and manage stress.
  • Eat: Eat a healthy, balanced diet.  Don’t skip breakfast, and make sure you are getting all the necessary nutrients you need, from whole foods and vitamin supplements if needed.  Avoid refined sugars and excess caffeine, which can disturb your sleep patterns.
  • Move: Regular exercise helps to reduce the effects of stress on the body and will help you feel more healthy.   Aim for thirty minutes each day; even exercise as simple as walking will make an impact on your health and stress levels.
  • Avoid toxins: Don’t overindulge in toxic substances like alcohol, cigarettes, and other drugs.  Taking care of your body with a balanced diet, exercise, and adequate sleep will do a better job of reducing stress levels in the long-term than drinking or smoking.
  • Know your warning signs: Knowing the small signs of stress, such as migraine headaches, restless sleep, or fluctuations in appetite, can give you a clue that it might be a good idea to check in with your doctor or take steps to improve your stress reduction techniques.

Take care of your emotional needs

  • Relax: Set aside regular time every day to focus on yourself and not worry about outside worries.  Whether this is part of your daily walk, shower, or bedtime ritual, it is important to spend time relaxing and focusing on your own needs.  This will help you stay in touch with yourself in regard to the stressors in your life.
  • Have fun: Incorporate your hobbies and favorite leisuretime activities into your regular schedule.  A major cause of chronic stress that can take a toll on your body is feeling like you are overwhelmed with obligations.  Taking time to do something you enjoy will help you stay connected to your own needs.
  • Talk about it: Identify people in your social circle, like a friend, relative, or coworker, who is able to listen to you when you need to talk about stress.  Having someone to talk to about your stress can help manage it so it doesn’t get out of hand and negatively affect your health.

Reduce stressors

  • Say no: If you are overwhelmed with obligations and commitments, turn some down to reclaim some of your time and energy for yourself.
  • Manage time: If your to-do list gets out of hand, devise a new time management strategy that can improve your efficiency and help you keep better track of your commitments.  Often, this small bit of organization can go a long way to managing daily stress levels.
  • Cut ties: If people in your life are detracting value or adding stress, take a break from them, or remove them from your life entirely.
  • Avoid triggers: If you know that a certain topic or activity triggers stress or anxiety, whether it is talking about politics or playing cards, do your best to avoid that particular activity in order to reduce the stress that is attached to it.

Stress happens to everyone, every day.  The difference between each person is how they manage the stressors in their life.  Stress and its physiological manifestations can often be a circular problem: excessive worry and stress may cause you to pay less attention to your diet, which may lead to nutrient deficiency, which leads to stress, which can manifest in poor sleep or exercise habits, creating more and more stress until you want to pull your hair out – or your body does it for you.  Take control of your stress before it controls you, and you will be much better prepared to handle the profound stresses life brings your way.

Written by Caitlin - Follow Caitlin on

22Oct/120

Poor Diet and Hair Loss

Your diet is an important part of your overall physical, mental, and emotional health. However, the foods you eat can affect more than just your waistline; they can also cause temporary or permanent hair loss, or can help you maintain a healthy head of hair, depending on what you choose to include in your diet. "You are what you eat" applies to your hair, too!

Fruits and Vegetables

Image from Nutritionistics.wordpress.com

Nutrients

Hair grows from follicles. Like other parts of your body, such as cells or organs, hair follicles function better with proper nutrients. And, like the rest of your body, the hair follicles receive those nutrients from food (among other sources). Specifically, hair follicles that are deficient of vitamins B5, B6, folate, and other B vitamins often do not produce hair as well or as frequently as they should, according to Livestrong. Aside from B vitamins, ensure you are getting recommended amounts of A, E, and C for a healthy scalp and hair. Fresh fruits and vegetables will provide these essential nutrients. A proper and well-balanced diet gives a sufficient amount of nutrients to your hair follicles, resulting in fuller and healthier hair. Hair follicles that are deprived of proper nutrients will not produce hair as often or as well as follicles that receive proper nutrients, thus leading to hair loss.

Calories

A poor diet may also be defined as one that produces too few or too many calories. Calories are used within your body to create energy, which is used throughout your body to perform a variety of tasks. If you are not giving your body enough calories, then vital tasks, such as breathing and body temperature regulation, will use most of the energy, leaving little left for secondary functions such as hair growth and production. Without the proper amount of energy, hair production will decrease.

Hair Health

Your diet affects more than just your body’s ability to produce healthy hair; it also plays a part in the health and longevity of your existing hair. Neglecting your body of a balanced diet can cause your existing hair to become thin, brittle, and weak, which can result in increased hair shedding and broken hairs. A poor diet can also make your hair dry, dull, and thin, whereas a well-balanced diet can give more volume and shine to your hair.

Lifestyle Changes

Changing your diet may require some daily changes to your lifestyle and eating habits, but these changes have many benefits beyond your hair. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day, and drink a lot of water throughout the day, to provide nutrients and hydration to your hair and body. These foods also help keep a healthy head of hair. You can also take a multivitamin to ensure you are getting the proper amount of vitamins and nutrients each day like in the Avacor® Nutricap. Also, exercise regularly to stimulate hair growth (though avoid tight hair ties or headbands, which can pull your hair out). Choosing to live a little healthier can help you look great, feel great, and enjoy your life much more than you might imagine.

24Sep/120

Beating Work Stress

Emotional stress is an everyday problem for millions of working adults worldwide. In a recent article on self inflicted hair loss, we mentioned the negative side effects of emotional stress on your hair. The graphic below points out some of signs of work stress and the positive things you can do to help relieve stress and help regrow hair.

Graphic by Betterworks.com

17Sep/120

Hair Loss Caused by Anti-Depressants

What You Need to Know

Have you encountered hair falling problem while brushing your hair? Then, days go by and you notice your hair is getting thinner each time you comb it. This occurrence has made you wonder what could have been the reason to your hair loss. The truth is that there are many reasons why you are losing your hair. One of these would be depression. Stress and anxiety are also some of the reasons why you are experiencing hair loss. Unfortunately, some people take anti-depressants to relieve them from the debilitating symptoms of stress and anxiety. Little do they realize that these medications will only worsen their hair loss problem.

What is Telogen Effluvium?

Telogen effluvium is a hair loss type which is caused by anti-depressants intake. It usually occurs every time the body is pressured or stressed. It can also occur during pregnancy. Some people’s hair loss are also caused by other pre existing medical conditions such as mental depression, malnutrition, and other medicines aside from anti-depressants. These conditions can cause our hair follicles to enter the telogen stage earlier than the usual. Telogen stage is sometimes referred to as the resting phase. When more of these hair follicles are on the telogen stage more hair also shed. Thus, hair loss occurs. When hair follicles are on a resting phase, the amount of growing hair is lesser compared to the amount of hair being pulled out. This is true especially when an individual is brushing or combing her hair. Thyroid problems caused by lithium are also pointed out as one of the reasons why anti-depressants are associated with hair loss problem.

Is This Type of Hair Loss Incurable?

Fortunately, telogen effluvium is curable. This goes to say that you may not have it for the rest of your life. In most cases, those people who suffered from this type of hair loss had completely recovered within six months after reducing the anti-depressants they take.

Does My Anti-Depressant Cause Hair Loss?

Not all anti-depressants can cause hair loss. However, we must not ignore the fact that these anti-depressants do have adverse side effects aside from hair loss. There are several factors which need to be considered when trying to figure out the cause of your hair loss. If you happen to be on medication by these anti-depressants, one way to determine whether your anti-depressants cause your hair loss is to stop the medication. After you stop taking the anti-depressants, you must then observe if your hair grows back and if the amount of falling hair has reduced. If you think your anti-depressants are the main cause for your hair loss, make conscious efforts to discontinue the medication. However, you must first consult your health care professional before stopping or reducing the dosage of any medications you are taking.

What Can I Do To Make My Hair Grow Again?

Aside from discontinuing your anti-depressants intake, just let your hair grow in time. There is really not much that you can do to treat your hair loss caused by these anti-depressants. Even though it will not immediately grow back, rest assured that your hair will eventually grow again. Time heals all wounds, so does your hair loss problem. If you’re really embarrassed to go out with your thinning hair, you can wear a wig for the mean time. It will make you look and feel better. This is the safest thing to do while waiting for your hair to grow back.

What Else Can I Do if I Cannot Stop My Anti-Depressant Intake?

There are some options you can do if you really need to continue your medication despite your hair loss problem. One option is to lessen the dosage of your anti-depressant and allow your hair to grow back. This is a slow process. However, it will solve the problem in a certain way. Another option that you can do is to change the brand of your medicine to a generic version. Generics usually have milder ingredients than those branded ones that caused your hair loss. If both options are inapplicable and you can hardly deal with your hair loss dilemma, you will have to talk to your doctor about it. Ask your doctor for some other remedies for your depression, stress or anxiety rather than just relying solely on anti-depressants.

The truth is that there are so many ways to treat your stress and anxiety aside from just taking in anti-depressants. If possible, try all natural means of relieving those symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety. This way, you will not have to suffer from hair loss and other side effects of anti-depressants.

About the Author:

Ryan Rivera used to suffer from anxiety attacks for seven years. He now advocates healthy living as the best weapon against stress, anxiety and depression. You can read more of his articles at Calm Clinic.