Articles | 25-03-19

Psychological and physical stress causes hair loss


It is a well-known fact that you may lose hair from stress, but why is that? In this article, we will discuss why you lose hair from stress and why this happens many months after the stressful period.

It is rare to lose hair from regular, everyday stress unless you are burned out or suffer from exhaustion symptoms. Occasional stress in the workplace does not usually make you lose hair. Extreme stress during an extended period of time or the kind of stress that classifies as trauma to the body, also called telogen effluvium, may cause hair loss. And the hair loss caused by the trauma happens many months after the incident itself.

Woman has hair examined with a micro camera

Physical or mental trauma may have a major impact on the hair

The body equates telogen effluvium with a physical or psychological trauma. This may be stress caused by childbirth, disease, surgery, grief, or depression, for example. The trauma causes the hair’s growth phases to change. When something leaves a mark inside the body, the body may react by shutting down hair production and putting the hair follicles into a dormant phase, even though they remain attached to the head. When the hair follicles are put into a dormant phase, they eventually die, and the hair falls out. This may occur 2-3 months after the trauma, but also as late as 6 months after the deeply stressful period. It’s a defense mechanism in the body that hasn’t been researched enough for anyone to be able to say why.

Normally, hair usually falls out 2-3 months after entering their dormant phase. Then you may lose up to 200 hairs in a day. But when the body has been under traumatic stress, you may lose significantly more hairs in a very short amount of time so the difference will be noticeable.

You may lose hair up to 6 months after a stressful time period

Since the traumatic period when the body was under heightened stress happened a long time ago, it may be difficult to tie the hair loss to it. Many people visit us at Nordic Hair Clinic and ask why they’re losing so much hair right now since nothing in particular has happened that week. But if you start to dig deeper, it can often be tied to a traumatic incident, mental or physical, affecting the body.

Marcelo Pena PRP treatment

Normally, once the hair has fallen out, it eventually resumes its natural growth phase. This process may be sped up by using PRP treatment to accelerate hair growth.

You don’t lose more hair because you brush your hair

When you experience this much hair loss in such a short period of time, many feel afraid to touch the hair, for example combing it. But it’s important to remember that the hair that falls out is already dead; it would have fallen out regardless of whether you brush your hair or not. Brushing it doesn’t cause more hair to fall out.

Regular stress isn’t dangerous, but when people lose an extreme amount of hair it’s usually related to a severe, traumatic stress on the body, but because it happened so many months ago it may be difficult to tie the hair loss to it. Many people believe that what you do today or this week affects the hair, but in reality, what happened 6 months ago causes the hair loss.