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Sudden Hair Loss – The Stress Connection

I was known for my unbelievably thick and full head of dark, mahogany red hair. I hated it… If I had known then that it would fade and thin out into the graying wisps I now have, I certainly would have learned to appreciate my hair more.

The interesting thing is that my hair made its dramatic decline at about the time my life was most stressful. We had just adopted a baby girl, I was caring for two sick mother and sister, I had just lost my job and I was in an incredible amount of debt. And all this stress aged me (and my hair) considerably.

People inherently know that stress affects physical health but often fail to realize its effects on hair health, too. This said, stress isn’t always bad. I have clients that thrive on stress, making them focus more sharply toward their goals. In fact, they seem to perform better under stress.

But it does have a limit.

Unfortunately, because we all handle stress differently, there are no fixed parameters to establish a standard of what that level should be. What we do know is that severe stress can lead to disease like anxiety, depression, obesity and high blood pressure. Then there are things like Telogen Effluvium.

Telogen Effluvium is a kind of hair loss that can occur as a result of severe stress. At any time on a healthy human scalp, about 80% to 90% of the hair follicles are growing hair. These active follicles are in what is called the anagen phase. That leaves up to 10% to 20% percent of scalp hair follicles in a resting state called telogen, when they don't produce any hair fiber. Heavy stress can force premature hair follicles into the resting phase.

Sudden hair loss due to stress usually manifests within 2 to 3 months after facing of some stressful situations. Although, our hair falls daily and falling of about 100 hairs per day is considered very normal. In stressful circumstances a person can lose 3 to 4 times that amount per day. The good news is that sudden hair loss is temporary in most of the cases. This is usually the case once the problem of stress is solved.

Solving the problem of excessive stress is easier said than done, but if you believe you’ve been losing hair due to stress, I have a few tips that might help you hold on to your lustrous locks:

Do physical exercises: During periods of stress, your body produces a hormone called adrenaline – the “survival” hormone. It helps tune your senses and sharpen your focus on your surroundings. However, excessive adrenaline ca overpower your nervous system and cause a wide number of problems including sudden hair loss. Doing regular exercise and physical activities reduces the level of adrenaline in your body. Consistent exercise can counter the effects of adrenaline by “burning it up” and flooding your system with the calming “feel good” endorphin hormones as a result.

Meditate to consciously relax: There are no special tools or techniques needed in order to meditate. You just need a peaceful place, which you have to create, be it your bedroom, office desk, or (as in the case with one client) your hall closet... Once there, do some deep breathing and focus on good thoughts.

Include relaxation in you daily routine for even just 5 minutes or so, daily and you will notice the significant change in your lifestyle once you start doing this stress busting exercise.

Mind Your Menu: Eat well. Consume a diet rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals, and in sufficient amount. Eat whole grain breads, dairy products (milk, cheese, butter, etc.) and eggs from free-range chickens.

Also incorporate fish and lean meats in your diet. And don’t forget to avoid sugars. Sugar “feeds” stress. Why else would they call it “stress eating?”

Now in the overall picture if life, doing all the above might not make a bit of difference to your hair loss (we are aging after all), but it WILL help you stay in good shape, improve your mood (by reliving your stress) and ultimately move you toward the happy, healthy life we all want as we grow older. So, get moving – you hair, your health and your happiness depends on it. ;-)

Keep moving toward a better you!

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