How stress and hair loss are linked – and what you can do about it

Although it may seem like it, this type of hair loss doesn’t mean the end.

When you have thick, curly hair like mine, it’s normal to lose more than your fair share while washing and detangling it. But lately, I’ve noticed more than my typical hair loss at the bottom of my shower. To not panic, I remembered recent changes in my hair habits, like washing it less often and wearing my hair in a bun more often than I would like to admit.

My stress level was another thing that has changed in recent years. I have had many “hair-raising,” financial, Health, and work-related concerns these days. So losing my hair due to stress seemed not so far-fetched. Two dermatologists confirmed that it was possible.

“Our bodies perceive mental stress in the same way that it perceives physical stress. Any dramatic stressor can cause hair growth and arrest,” Michelle Henry MD, a New York-based dermatologist, tells Health. Telogen effluvium is the excessive hair loss caused by stress.

What causes hair loss due to stress?

Cortisol, the stress hormone, is released when we feel stressed. Health is told by Angelo Landriscina MD, a Washington dermatologist. Cortisol can also affect hair follicle cycles and cause hair loss. __S.34__ Dr. Landriscina says that although it is not always clear why telogen effluvium occurs, it has been associated with significant stressful life events and stressful physical events such as being acutely ill or undergoing surgery. He says stress literally “shocks” your hair into falling out.

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Dr. Landriscina says that telogen effluvium could occur if you have COVID and are admitted to the ICU. However, it will develop three months later. Emotional stress is also a trigger. If you have a lot of racism in your life, you might notice hair loss within three months.

Prevention of stress-related hair loss begins with prevention. Dr. Henry says, “Keep in touch with the people you love. Because isolation and depression can have an effect on your overall Health and well-being. That presents as mental stress.” To avoid stress, she recommends healthy eating and regular exercise.

How do I treat stress-related hair fall?

Dr. Landriscina says that 10% to 15% of hair strands in the telogen stage are preparing for fallout. Unfortunately, those hairs will be gone once they are lost. However, this doesn’t mean that new hairs will not grow. Dermatologists recommend minoxidil. It improves blood circulation and stimulates hair growth.

Dr. Henry loves Nioxin’s System 2 Haircare Kit for Natural Hair with Progressive Thinning (45$; as well as Nioxin System 4 Haircare Kit for Colored-Treated Hair with Advancement Thinning (45$; Both kits include a shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in treatment with minoxidil to promote hair growth. Both can be purchased over-the-counter.

Dr. Henry says that most people wash their hair and use an after-treatment. It’s simple to change the product you’re using. Nioxin, unlike other minoxidil products, looks at hair holistically. It treats the entire hair, not just the strands.


After my hairdresser recommended Nioxin products to me, I used them at my local salon. I noticed that my temples were starting to thin around four years ago. This was mostly due to my stressful college years. It has been a few more times than I have used it at the salon, and my hair has grown back – though I don’t know whether it’s because of my better hair care or the Nioxin products.

When is it a good idea to see a dermatologist for stress-related hair loss?

Dr. Landriscina states that “time is hair.” He suggests consulting a dermatologist as soon as you notice you are losing hair. This will help you determine if your loss is due to something else. Dr. Landriscina says that it is difficult for an average person to distinguish between permanent and excessive hair loss. He recommends visiting your scalp in person, but you can also have a successful telehealth appointment.

Dr. Henry urges you to be patient and kind with yourself, whether you are treating hair loss at home or with a dermatologist. Health Dr. Henry says that patience is crucial. “Treatment works but it takes time.”

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