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How to Prevent Hair Loss Due to Stress

Three Parts:Understanding Stress-Related Hair LossReducing Emotional and Physical StressPromoting Healthy Hair Growth

Sometimes emotional or physical stress can lead to hair loss, which is a serious concern for most people and something they wish to reverse. However, due to the length of the hair growth cycle, people often only begin losing their hair weeks or months after the stressful event has occurred, and the hair loss can continue for several months afterwards. Luckily, hair will usually grow back on its own once the source of stress has been removed, but there are several things you can do to help the process along. Start with Step 1 below to learn how to ease stress and take good care of your hair in order to reduce the effects of hair loss.

Part 1
Understanding Stress-Related Hair Loss

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    Familiarize yourself with the types of stress-related hair loss. There are three main types of stress-related hair loss as follows:
    • Telogen effluvium: With telogen effluvium, stress may send a number of hair follicles into a resting phase, stopping the hair from growing. Several months later, the hair attached to the affected follicles may start to fall out suddenly, in greater volume than normal. This is possibly the most common type of stress-related hair loss.
    • Alopecia areata: With alopecia areata, the immune system turns on the hair follicles and causes hair to fall out, sometimes in large chunks. There may be several factors causing this type of hair loss, and stress is suspected to be one of them.
    • Trichotillomania: This condition is very different than the previous two, as it involves a person compulsively pulling out their own hair, whether its from their head, their eyebrows or other areas of their body. A person usually develops this condition as a method of coping with stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness or boredom.[1]
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    See a doctor to confirm a diagnosis. With each type of hair loss, the exact link between the hair loss and stress is somewhat unclear.
    • While stress will sometimes cause the hair loss directly, other times, the stress makes an existing condition worse. In some cases, the hair loss will cause the stress, rather than the other way around.
    • Although most instances of hair loss will not require any significant medical attention, in some cases the hair loss is not the result of stress (as you might believe), but is in fact a symptom of a more serious underlying issue. Therefore, it important that you see your doctor rather than self-diagnosing.
    • Some of the more serious conditions which can lead to hair loss include hypothyroidism, auto-immune diseases such as lupus and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). With hypothyroidism and PCOS there are treatment options available which can help hair to grow back. However, with auto-immune related hair loss, the loss is often permanent.[2]
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    Know that hair will usually grow back on its own. If hair loss is indeed caused by stress, the major focus of treatment should be on minimizing or eliminating that stress.
    • Then, once the stress is removed, hair should grow back on its own with no need for drugs or other treatments.[3]
    • The important thing is to have patience. The growth cycle of hair takes time, and it can be a number of months before you see a significant improvement.
    • Just do your best to avoid stressing about the situation, as this will only make things worse. Have faith in your ability of your hair follicles to renew the hair, and you'll be fine.

Part 2
Reducing Emotional and Physical Stress

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    Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can contribute to both mental and physical stress, especially if the sleep issues persist over a long period of time. It can affect your diet, your performance at work and your overall mood, which, in turn, can lead to stress or anxiety-related hair loss.
    • Improve your sleep by getting into a regular sleep pattern - that is, waking up and going to bed at the same time every day. You should aim to be getting at least 7 to 8 hours sleep a night.
    • Avoid doing anything too stimulating before bed. Don't watch any scary films or TV shows, stay away from the bright screen of your laptop and phone and don't exercise or eat anything. Read a book or have a hot bath instead.
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    Follow a healthy diet. Eating healthily gives your body more energy, enabling it to better cope with stress. Diet also contributes to the strength of hair, making it less likely to fall out.
    • Eat at least three, well-balanced meals a day. Never skip breakfast, as it gets your metabolism going in the morning and helps to prevent cravings for unhealthy snacks before lunch.
    • Stay away from processed, sugary foods, and those high in trans fats.Instead, eat more fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and foods high in monounsaturated fats, such as avocados, oily fish, nuts and olives.
    • Increase your intake of certain vitamins and minerals which contribute to healthy hair growth and your overall well-being, such as B vitamins, vitamins A, C and E, zinc, selenium and magnesium. Omega-3 fatty acids are also beneficial, as they can help to improve the health of the scalp.
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    Exercise more. Exercise can be hugely beneficial in helping to alleviate emotional stress. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins - also known as happy hormones - which help you to feel calmer and more relaxed.
    • The type of exercise you do is up to you - when it comes to relieving stress, try to find something you enjoy, whether it's running, rowing, cycling, dancing or rock climbing. Anything that gets your heart rate up and puts a smile on your face.
    • Also try to incorporate a yoga or meditation class into your weekly routine, as these have been proven to effectively reduce stress levels. Alternatively, you could practice meditation at home or at your desk - anywhere you can shut out the world for a few moments and just focus on clearing your mind.
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    See a therapist. Emotional stress can become much worse over time if you bottle up your feelings and avoid talking about the source of your stress. Therefore, seeing a therapist to talk through your anxiety issues can be very cathartic, and do wonders to relieve stress.
    • If talking to a therapist isn't something you're interested in, then at least open up to a trusted friend or family member. Don't be afraid of burdening them with your worries - they'll be more than happy to lend a sympathetic ear.
    • Even if talking about things doesn't change the source of the stress, it can help to change how you view it and give you some perspective. Talking to friends and family can also help you to realize that you have a strong support system around you and that you don't need to cope with your stress alone.
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    Give your body time to recover after a major physiological change. Major physiological changes - such as surgery, a car accident, illness or giving birth to a child - can be very traumatic for your body, even if you feel fine mentally. That's why people often notice their hair falling out three to six months after a major physical change.
    • When this starts to happen, it's important to remember that the damage has already been done. There's very little you can do to reverse the effects of the traumatic event after it happens.
    • Therefore, the only solution is to give your body time to recover. The hair loss is not permanent, so once your body recovers from the stressful event, your hair will start to grow back.
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    Check your meds. There are a number of medications which can promote hair-loss, thereby making stress-related hair loss worse.
    • The most common of these medications include blood thinners and blood pressure tablets (beta-blockers). Other medications that might have an effect include methotrexate (for rheumatic conditions), lithium (for bi-polar disorder) and some nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs.[2]
    • If you are taking any of these medications and suspect they may be having an adverse effect on your hair, speak to your doctor about lowering your dosage or switching to another type of medication.

Part 3
Promoting Healthy Hair Growth

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    Eat enough protein. Your hair is composed mostly of protein, so having lots of protein in your diet is essential for healthy hair. If you're not getting enough, your body can shut down the supply of protein to your hair and use it for the most essential of many other body functions.
    • When your hair doesn't get enough protein, it shuts down growth. As a result, when existing hair reaches the end of its cycle and naturally falls out (in a process known as catagen) it can seem as if you have less hair than normal.
    • Don't worry though - once you commit to getting enough protein in your diet, your hair will start to grow again and feel thicker in no time.
    • The best sources of protein include fish (such as tuna, salmon and halibut), white poultry (such as turkey and chicken), eggs, dairy products (such as milk, cheese and yogurt), beans (such as kidney, white, lima and black beans) and beef, veal, pork and tofu.[4]
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    Increase B vitamins and decrease A vitamins. B vitamins are necessary for healthy hair growth, so if you're not getting enough of them as part of your diet, your hair could be affected. On the other hand, excess vitamin A can trigger hair loss, so you may need to cut back.
    • Having low levels of B vitamins in your diet is pretty uncommon, especially in the U.S., but it can be an issue for some people. To naturally increase your intake of B vitamins, eat more fish and lean meat, starchy vegetables and non-citrus fruits.
    • To decrease your intake of vitamin A, try to cut back on any supplements or medications containing vitamin A. Keep in mind that the recommended daily intake of vitamin A (for anyone above the age of four) is 5000 IU.[2]
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    Avoid low-calorie diets. Low-calorie diets often deprive your body of many of the vitamins, nutrients and healthy fats it needs to function properly and maintain healthy hair growth.
    • In addition, rapid weight loss (as the result of following a low-calorie diet) can cause major physical stress to the body, which may trigger hair loss.
    • It is important to eat healthily and this means supplying your body with all the fuel it needs. If you're trying to lose weight, you should do so by making healthier, more nutritious choices and by exercising regularly.
    • Aim to lose weight slowly and steadily, rather than trying to do so all a once using starvation tactics. A safe, manageable goal is to lose one to two pounds a week.
    • Many high-fat, high-calorie foods are actually very good for you, provided you make the right choices. Things like nuts, avocados and oily fish are all high in monounsaturated fat, but they are also very healthy and should be eaten as part of a balanced diet.
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    Take good care of your hair. Taking good care of your hair will contribute to its overall health, making it stronger and less prone to fall out.
    • Start by using a shampoo and conditioner suited to your hair type. Dry hair will need richer, super-moisturizing products, while oily or very fine hair will require lighter products designed for regular use.
    • Try to avoid using hair products with too many chemicals in them. Shampoos containing sulfates or parabens should be avoided and more natural, organic ingredients should be used.
    • Also avoid washing your hair too often, as this can strip hair of natural oils, causing it become dry, brittle and prone to breaking. Every two to three days is a good schedule for most hair types.
    • Nourish your hair even further by getting moisture and shine treatments at your local salon, or by making natural hair masks at home. Oils such as coconut, argan and almond can improve the condition of hair dramatically, making it soft and silky.
    • Keep your hair in good condition by getting it trimmed every six to eight weeks. This eliminates split ends and helps your hair to look and feel great.[5]
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    Don't overstyle your hair. Overstyling is one of the biggest issues when it comes to healthy hair. Nowadays women are obsessed with blow-drying, straightening and curling using heated styling tools. These wreak havoc on the condition of hair.
    • Try to minimize the use of styling tools. Experiment with naturally air drying your hair, scrunching your hair using a little hair mousse or curling your hair using no-heat methods, such as hair rollers.
    • You should avoid playing with your hair too much, i.e., twisting, pulling or breaking off split ends. You should also be careful with ponytails - tying them too tightly can cause hair to fall out (traction alopecia). Wear your hair loose as often as possible (especially at night) and experiment with loose, low ponytails and braids. Don't brush your hair too often either.
    • Be careful when using color treatments on the hair, as they can quickly dry, damage and over-process your hair. Wait as long as possible between dye jobs, and think long and hard before you decide to go down a color route which involves bleach. Consider using more natural hair coloring techniques, such as henna, which nourishes as it colors.


  • Examining and reducing the social, emotional, and professional demands that are placed on you, as well as those you place on others, can help you manage stress.
  • Getting a massage not only relieves muscle tension but also promotes blood flow throughout the body and helps reduce emotional and mental stress.
  • Keeping a journal allows you to express pent-up frustrations through writing.


  • Women between the ages of 30 and 60 may experience chronic telogen effluvium, which fluctuates over the years. It affects the entire scalp but does not cause complete baldness. It is also a self-limiting condition.

Article Info

Categories: Hair Loss and Scalp Conditions