Can Anxiety Cause Hair Loss?Can Anxiety Cause Hair Loss?

Can Anxiety Cause Hair Loss?

A racing heart, sweaty palms, ruminating thoughts and the desire to isolate — anxiety symptoms can feel overwhelming and out of control. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), rates of depression and anxiety were approximately four times higher between April 2020 and August 2021 than in 2019. Of course, the Covid-19 pandemic contributed to heightened feelings, but in 2022, anxiety is still the most common mental disorder in the U.S.

Anxiety and long-term stress can wreak havoc across the body, and with it often comes anxiety-related hair loss. If you or someone you love is experiencing mental health dysregulation and hair loss, VEGAMOUR spoke to the experts to get under the skin of stress and find out how anxiety and hair loss are connected. Plus, discover the hair wellness range that helps soothe your mind, body and soul.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is the body's reaction to worry and fear. Most of us have experienced anxious feelings at some point. Some experience more anxiety than others, and for many, the uncomfortable feelings and thoughts can turn into different types of anxiety disorders, including:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Agoraphobia
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Specific phobia
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Separation anxiety disorder

For many, anxiety impacts how they live on a daily basis, and they can experience various symptoms, including feeling on edge, restlessness, muscle tension fatigue, difficulty concentrating, low sex drive and more. When the body is under physical stress from ongoing chronic stress, it can react in various unexpected ways.

Read More: How Stress Impacts Female Hair Loss

Can Anxiety Trigger Hair Loss?

The true link between anxiety and hair loss is stress. Anxious feelings can lead to persistent, long-term stress, and while technically stress and anxiety are two different conditions, the reality is that both lead to similar troubling symptoms.

"Constant stress can lead to inflammation throughout the body, contributing to hair loss," said board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Harold Hong. "A body in a state of stress diverts blood and nutrients away from non-essential functions like hair growth. This may result in thinning hair or baldness."

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The Side Effects of Stress

The human body is incredibly intelligent and is hard-wired to protect you from predators and potential aggressors. When a stressful event occurs, the hypothalamus — a tiny region at the base of your brain — releases an alarm system in the body.

"The immune system is responsible for protecting the body against infection and disease," explained Dr. Hong. "When the system functions properly, it produces antibodies that help fight off foreign invaders, like bacteria and viruses. When someone has an anxiety disorder, their system is constantly on high alert, leading to several problems. Cells on high alert produce more stress hormones, like cortisol, which can suppress the immune system."

The adrenal glands release the following hormones when you're stressed:

  • Adrenaline elevates the heart rate and blood pressure and helps boost energy supplies.
  • Cortisol curbs function in the body that it considers non-essential for a flight or fight situation, which includes immune system responses, the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes — including hair growth.

    Many events and occurrences can trigger the stress response in the body, including crash dieting, overall nutritional deficiencies, extreme stress, severe illness and diagnosis that impact blood flow across the body.

    "Anxiety can induce hair loss in a number of ways," explained Dermatologist Dr. Cory Gaskins, BSc, MD, CCFP. "One way is through telogen effluvium, which is when stress causes the hair follicles to enter into a resting phase. This can lead to shedding of the hair and thinning over time."

    "Another way that anxiety can cause hair loss is through trichotillomania, which is when someone compulsively pulls out their hair due to stress or anxiety," said Dr. Gaskins. "This can lead to bald patches or thinning of the hair over time. Finally, anxiety can also cause alopecia areata, which is an autoimmune condition that causes patchy hair loss. Stress and anxiety are thought to play a role in triggering this condition."

    • Alopecia Areata can be a type of stress-induced hair loss that presents as unexpected loss of large clumps of hair around the scalp or gradual hair shedding over time.
    • Trichotillomania is a habitual condition that's caused by stress and anxiety. Someone experiencing it can experience involuntary hair pulling, impacting the hair follicles over time
    • Telogen Effluvium is where the normal hair cycle is interrupted, causing a change in the hair follicles and triggering temporary hair loss.

      If someone is experiencing hair shedding and a dip in the appearance of their hair health, they must check in with a doctor to confirm that it is stress-related hair loss — shedding can occur for several reasons, and there are different types of hair loss.

      To help keep your strands as strong and as long as possible, even during stressful periods, the GRO+ Advanced Hair Serum features a blend of powerful phyto-actives and broad-spectrum CBD, penetrating the upper dermis, reaching each hair follicle at the root level. This enables other powerful ingredients — mung bean, red clover, curcumin and nicotiana benthamiana — to penetrate more deeply as well.

      Read More: Feeling Stressed? Here Are 6 Long-Term Effects

      The Hair Growth Cycle

      Stress and anxiety can impact the hair growth cycle, which comprises the following phases:

      1. Anagen phase: the growing stage. 

        This is the longest phase and can last between 3-5 years. Approximately 90 percent of the hairs on your head are in the anagen growth phase.
      2. Catagen phase: the transition stage. The catagen phase begins once the anagen phase ends. It lasts approximately ten days, and the hair follicles shrink, causing hair growth to slow down.
      3. Telogen phase: the resting stage. 

        The telogen phase typically lasts for three months, and hairs don't grow during this time. They don't fall out, either. Instead, hair regrowth and new hairs begin to form in the follicles. Unfortunately, stress can push hairs into this resting phase for longer than they should be, meaning new hair strands don't develop as expected. Common symptoms and signs that the hair is stuck in the telogen phase include diffuse thinning or easy shedding — even when the hair is only touched gently.

        If someone struggles with telogen effluvium caused by stress, their hair might look thinner than usual, especially under overhead lighting. Thankfully, telogen effluvium doesn't cause a receding hairline, which is more commonly associated with androgenetic alopecia or hormonal hair loss.

        The Relationship Between Hair Loss and Anxiety Medication

        It's also worth mentioning that if you're prescribed medication to help you tackle anxiety and improve your well-being, some psychotropic drugs might also trigger hair loss — particularly those with sertraline. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are prescribed antidepressant medications that help balance moods. Of course, losing your tresses due to taking medication could lead you to have a complex relationship with your drugs. However, consult with a medical professional before changing the prescribed routine.

        Stress Management and How to Halt Hair Loss

        Ongoing stress and anxiety can trigger various symptoms in the body, including total hair loss in worse-case scenarios. Hair loss can further exacerbate anxious feelings, so you must seek treatment quickly if you struggle. The good news? Once the stress subsides, the hair growth cycle returns to normal and you can naturally begin to regrow hair again. Treatment options include: 

        • Lifestyle changes — including a balanced diet and restful sleep.
        • Topical medication that a doctor prescribes.
        • Hair loss medications that are taken in pill form.
        • Daily supplements that boost vitamin D, vitamin E, zinc, biotin and more.
        • Mindful routines that help reduce stress — including journaling, yoga, meditation, spending time outdoors, therapy and deep breathing.

          Read More: How to Minimize Hair Loss From Stress

          Reduce Anxiety to Revive Your Hair

          Most of the time, hair loss from stress or anxiety tends to return once the feelings subside and your mental health regulates. Affected hairs and hair follicles usually return to normal, and strands grow back over approximately six months. Of course, if you experience prolonged stress-induced hair loss and ongoing anxiety hair loss, always consult with a doctor.

          To encourage healthy hair when you're stressed, seek a specific hair loss treatment plan and maintain overall hair wellness with all-natural products. VEGAMOUR's range of topical serums and foams help boost weakened strands, especially when used alongside daily mindful routines and a tasty, nutritious diet.

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            Disclaimer: Information in this article is intended for general informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician.