Hair loss or alopecia can happen to both men and women. There are many different causes of baldness, including stress. Stress can be defined as a chronic illness like cancer, suddenly needing surgery or a traumatic change in life such as losing a job. A combination of factors in a person’s life can also produce chronic stress.
Worry over perceived threats such as a job situation or a relationship problem causes as much stress as real threats. Stress produces a hormone in the body called cortisol. This hormone helps prepare the body to flee from or fight an enemy. This keeps the body in a constant state of alertness. Over time, this life-saving hormone can start harming the body, such as causing it to lose hair.
Cortisol and Hair Loss
Cortisol triggers many body reactions in order to help the body prepare to fight or to quickly escape danger. The adrenal glands on top of each kidney release adrenaline to keep senses alert. This also raises blood pressure to quickly speed oxygen and glucose to vital body parts like internal organs. These reactions help the brain better prepare for immediate survival.
But it also shuts down non-essential bodily functions, such as growing and maintaining hair. The energy used to growing and maintaining hair follicles goes into other parts of the body. We might like to think that having a healthy, full head of hair is an essential bodily function, but our brains beg to differ. With nutrients cut off to hair follicles, the hairs die off and fall out but are not replaced with new hairs.
In order to treat stress-related baldness, you first have to identify what is causing your constant stress. For some people, these causes are easier to spot than others. What may seem a normal reaction to you may be considered a stressful situation by your body. People under constant stress tend to suffer from other symptoms rather than baldness, such as chronic skin problems; obesity or sudden loss of weight; sleeping too much or sleeping too little and chronic digestive problems such as constipation or diarrhea.
The good news is that hair often grows back once the patient has learned to manage stress in beneficial ways. Oftentimes we manage our stress by smoking, drinking or overeating. This can give short-term release but over time this makes the body sick, which causes it to become even more stressed out. Non-chemical means of relaxing such as meditating, getting a massage or talk therapy can help reduce the body’s overall stress load. This helps the body grow back lost hair.