There's nothing quite like heartbreak. The end of a relationship can hit humans hard — especially if it comes as a shock. Unfortunately, dealing with a broken heart isn't the only challenge women can face when experiencing breakup stress — hair loss can also result.
The connection between stress and hair loss has been widely acknowledged, and now more than ever, scientists are looking into how emotional trauma can create physical shifts in the body. Find out why some people experience hair loss after breakups. Plus, what you can do to help combat thinning hair.
What Causes Hair Loss After Heartbreak?
There are few things in life as stressful as a breakup. Of course, everyone experiences stress from time to time, but it can manifest in the body in these different ways.
Nina Lemtir, a global hair and wellness coach with over 17-years of experience, said, "When stressors occur, the body produces a chemical called cortisol, which protects us for short periods. However, with ongoing stress, cortisol remains high in the system for too long and affects function. This eventually takes its toll on hair and skin."
Chronically elevated cortisol levels can also lead to:
- Slow healing of wounds
- Chronic fatigue
- Upset digestive system
- Low libido
- Irregular periods
- Weight gain
- Cystic acne
- Hair loss
The impact stress can have is a true testament to the intuitive sensitivity of our bodies. "Going through a breakup can be a challenging time emotionally," explained Dr. Zachary Okhah, the Founder and Chief Surgeon at PH-1 Miami. "For some, hair loss can result from the stress of it all. Hair strands can go into a 'resting phase' when you're under a significant amount of stress. And after a while, these hairs may begin to fall out while you're washing or brushing your hair."
Additionally, when you're under severe stress, the brain produces messages (neurotransmitters) that elicit various responses from your immune system and endocrine system. This can cause the body to drop its in-built protective defenses and potentially affect the hair follicles and disrupt hair growth.
To combat this issue, try VEGAMOUR’s GRO+ Advanced Hair Serum, a nutrient-packed, 100% vegan formula with the added benefit of soothing, microencapsulated, full-spectrum hemp. It's clinically proven to increase the appearance of hair density by up to 52% and reduce signs of shedding by up to 76% with consistent use.
Unfortunately, the more traumatic your heartache, the more neurotransmitters you release, which, depending on genetics, can continue to interfere with the life cycle of your hair and encourage slow hair loss. This phenomenon is called telogen effluvium.
What Is Telogen Effluvium?
When the body experiences severe emotional trauma, the hormonal changes trick a large percentage of the hair follicles into entering their "resting phase," resulting in the hair falling out. TE can happen several weeks after a stressful event and continue for months. Here are some things that may trigger TE:
- Significant life changes: Heartbreak, losing a job, grief
- Body changes: Fast weight loss or overexercising
- Significant health changes: Underlying medical conditions or giving birth
- Major diet changes: Keto diet or vegan diet
Speaking of your diet, why not add in a daily supplement, like GRO+ Advanced Gummies, which can help boost hair health and reduce stress? With a focus on well-being, each fruity-flavored gummy contains 10 mg of hemp and features biotin, folic acid, zinc and a host of other nourishing vitamins and minerals.
Other Types of Hair Loss
It's worth mentioning that telogen effluvium is just one type of hair loss. For example, suppose you're living with persistent bald patches and haven't experienced any recent stressful life changes. In that case, your hair loss could result from a condition called androgenic alopecia, or female pattern baldness, which is often characterized by thinning at the crown of the head and the scalp shining through.
In rare cases, the stress caused by heartache could trigger androgenic alopecia and attack hair follicles. In other instances, it could cause alopecia totalis (irreparable hair loss) and potentially the auto-immune disease alopecia areata.
If you suddenly notice chunks of hair falling out or your hair loss is happening at an alarming rate, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible to find out more.
"When I was in my 20s, I was involved in a romantic relationship with a close friend for three years," explained Sofie Parker, the wellness expert at Inboard Skate. It started out great, but during our second year, the relationship was on/off until we decided to part ways for good. The breakup was totally traumatizing because I thought that it's going to last a lifetime. And I was under so much daily stress at that time — especially because I had to uphold my family and career responsibilities. It was mentally and emotionally exhausting, and even when my partner and I broke up for good, things still weren't easy."
"While sick from stress, I began to experience severe hair fall, which went on for months. It had nothing to do with how I shampooed and conditioned my hair — I didn't miss a single hair wash day, and from afar, it looked healthy. I had straight strands that looked thick, but up close, the hair was obviously damaged — with one single hand stroke, the hair would fall out effortlessly."
"The stress I was experiencing, my lack of exercise and the bad diet I'd adopted were all contributing to the hair loss. I felt alone and was far from emotionally healthy. I'd get a maximum of four hours of sleep a night, and most of the time, I'd wake up with a lot of strands on my pillow. My body lacked rest and nutrients, but taking care of myself just didn't feel like a priority."
"Over time, I started to make changes. I started to focus on myself. I changed career, joined a company I love and learned how to manage my mental health. One thing that I feel helped stop my hair coming out was drinking kiwi juice. I learned that kiwi juice could stimulate hair growth because it's rich in vitamins and nutrients. I cut what was left of my hair short to get rid of split ends and the uneven lengths, and as the stress subsided and my diet improved (the kiwi juice really did help!), my hair problems began to subside. I slowly returned to my good eating habits and regular exercising. Now almost seven years after that breakup, my health and my hair are in much better condition."
How to Reduce Stress and Hair Loss
Unfortunately, there isn't a magical, internal switch that flicks off stress when it starts to take hold. But, thankfully, there are steps you can take that will help.
If your diet has been disrupted during your breakup, you might benefit from nutritional therapy. There are foods you can eat that will help naturally lower cortisol in the body to help reduce stress and inflammation — Lemtir suggests incorporating these tasty treats into your diet :
- Potatoes (all kinds)
- Green peas
- Red cabbage
If your hair stops growing and you suffer heartache-induced hair loss, consider introducing some new hair wellness products into your daily routine that soothe your scalp, encourage fuller-looking hair and reduce shedding. The GRO+ Advanced line includes foams and serums that feature full-spectrum hemp and VEGAMOUR's proprietary blend of mung bean, red clover Nicotiana benthamiana and curcumin to circulate and soothe problem areas. Use these products regularly to help strengthen roots and increase the density and thickness of your locks.
And it's not just the physical fallout that you need to tend to after a painful dose of heart-hurt; you'll probably need emotional support too.
"Hair loss resulting from stress is usually temporary," said Dr. Okhah. "Getting your hair back to normal may take a few months to a year. Recovery usually begins with learning to manage your stress better. You can do various stress management techniques at home, including deep breathing, meditation [and] yoga. Journaling is also an effective way to gain control of your emotions. And spending time outside in nature can help reduce stress and anger. Simply taking a 10-minute walk in a park can reduce tension and increase pleasant feelings."
And if you've never tried therapy before, now could be a good time. There's something so soothing about a professional, empathic soul actively listening to your problems. It's a confidential space for you to work through stress and just be you.
Experiencing Long-Term Hair Loss
Long-term hair loss after heartbreak is rare, but reach out to support groups for help if it does happen. On a practical note, talk to a hairstylist about boosting your real hair with normal hair extensions, or consider using a wig to cover bald areas. These days, there are some spectacular designs available that look just as good as the real thing.
There's no time limit on heartbreak, and the after-effects can linger for months. If taking good care of yourself falls by the wayside, it's time to take a step back and put the focus back on you. Nourish your mind, body and soul by installing healthy daily habits, reach out for help when you need it, and gradually, you'll boost your confidence and get back to yourself.
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