Stress And Hair Loss (Telogen Effluvium)

The problem of hair loss is not gendered specific and is experienced by both men and women. This is due to the unhealthy food consumption and the general lack of discipline in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Also, increased levels of pollution played an important role. Hair loss problem has become rampant, and many are frantically looking for solutions to their hair loss problem. 

But to look for the ideal solution, you firstly need to determine the root cause of it. Every individual has a different body type, which is why there are numerous varying reasons for each one’s hair shedding. 

If you have been facing extreme stress lately and have also been experiencing a substantial amount of hair fall or hair thinning, there probably is a connection between the two. You do not even realize that you are stressed, but internally your mind is under tremendous pressure. 

We should understand the different reasons that cause hair loss, including stress. And how to deal with it without getting even more anxious about it. 

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The Stages of Hair loss

The term hair loss, as already known, is a more commonly used term than its medical condition called Alopecia. This medical condition is caused due to some disruption in the hair production cycle of our body. 

There are 3 phases in which this hair growth cycle functions within the body. 

•  Anagen Phase – This is the first phase of the cycle in which the hair keeps growing. 

Catagen Phase – this is the 2nd phase lasting for almost ten days. Where the growth of hair ceases, and there is a separation between the hair and the hair follicle that holds it into place. 

• Telogen Phase – this is the 3rd and the last phase in the cycle where the follicle stops its hair’s growth for around 2-3 months, and then the hair sheds off. After the Telogen phase, the cycle begins again from the Anagen phase. 

This hair growth cycle is a natural and daily occurring one. The average amount of hair fall that a person may experience every day is generally 50-100 hair. The problem here is not hair loss, but it arises when the lost hair cannot grow back. 

Now this hair loss and the hair growth cycle are affected by many factors such as hormonal imbalance, physical factors, genetics, unhealthy lifestyle, food consumption, etc. 

Types of Hair loss

There are different types of hair losses, and each of them needs to be treated accordingly. Dermatologists have identified some distinct types of hair losses as follows:

  • Androgenetic Alopecia: This is the most common type of hair loss which most people experience. This is a hereditary hair loss, also called inherited hair loss, and can be medically or surgically treated. Androgenetic Alopecia is also called as Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss or Baldness. However, baldness is a rarely occurring effect in females and generally happens to those with thyroid disease or hormonal imbalance. 
  • Telogen Effluvium: This is a type of hair loss where the hair growth cycle enters its 3rd phase, which is called the Telogen phase of the follicle. Usually it should be resting for 2-3 months, but the cycle abruptly stops right there. And does not enter the next phase of the cycle, which should be starting again with the Anagen Phase. Due to this, the hair on the scalp sheds, and new ones do not grow back. 
  • Anagen Effluvium: This type of hair loss occurs as side effects of some medical treatments like Chemotherapy for Cancer or other such medications. Although the medication acts on the affected areas, it inadvertently stops the hair follicles from generating new hair growth.
  • Alopecia Areata: This type of hair loss is caused due to autoimmune disease where your body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissues, and it also includes hair follicles. Thus, hair fall occurs without a chance for new hair growth.
  • Tinea Capitis: This type of hair loss is common amongst children and occurs due to a fungal infection on the scalp. The hair falling due to tinea capitis may cause bald spots and patches.
  • Cicatricial Alopecia: This rare type of hair loss is not age-specific and is also termed as Scarring Alopecia. In this, the hair follicles on some scalp spots may be destroyed due to inflammation and are replaced by scars in their place. Once this happens, hair cannot grow again on that scar spots. 

How Can Stress Lead To Hair Loss?

With the fast-paced lifestyle and various pressures today, many people suffer from chronic stress and anxiety disorder, which eventually affects their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. 

  • Hair loss caused due to stress is not situation-specific and can occur due to any situation that triggers stress levels to go up in the body. 

  • The most common are emotional stress and physical stress. Situations like pregnancy, long- term illness, financial pressures, physical injuries, surgeries, medications that increase cortisol level, inadequate nutrition, etc., are some that cause the stress levels to go up.

  • Everything within our bodies is interconnected, and thus one condition that pops up has an underlying cause linked to another part being unhealthy. 

  • However, when a stressful situation occurs with you, it does not immediately cause hair fall or hair thinning but will happen after a good 1-3 months after it has passed. 

  • This is because the stress response impacts our minds and affects the hair cycle and nourishment and disrupts it until treated. 

Hair Loss Caused By Stress

Stress is a causing factor for 4 of the types mentioned above hair loss, namely, Telogen Effluvium, Alopecia Areata, Trichotillomania, and Androgenic Alopecia. 

When we are undergoing severe stress, we happen to neglect ourselves and our well-being in some ways. For example, skipping meals or consuming unhealthy food as comfort food, etc. 

Due to this, the necessary nutrients and minerals fail to enter our body, affecting the hair. Hair follicles are one of the first to suffer if our body lacks the necessary nutrients. Stress also adversely affects and slows down our digestive system, which then fails to absorb the nutrients. 

Hair shedding also occurs due to our immune system going haywire due to our bodies’ stress levels. This is why it is essential that your stress levels stay normal and do not rise to take care of all other aspects of the body that are readily affected due to it. 

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen Effluvium may occur irrespective of age or sex and is caused due to excessive loss of hair in its Telogen Phase. This is not a permanent hair loss and is caused due to some trauma or shock due to stress to the mind and body.

  • Actively growing hair or hair in its Anagen phase constitutes of around 85% on a healthy scalp, whereas 15% is constituted by resting hair or hair in the Telogen Phase. 

  • This type of diffuse hair loss is non- scarring and does not cause inflammation but may affect up to 50% of the hair on the scalp. 

  • But the positive part is that if you are noticing a lot of hair fall, it also means that is new hair growth taking place in the follicles, which is why the existing grown hair is being pushed out to make way. 

Telogen Effluvium, a stress-related hair loss, is a temporary condition that does not cause total baldness. Although it does unveil genetic hair loss, causing male pattern baldness and female pattern hair loss. 

So how do you determine that your hair loss falls in the category of Telogen Effluvium? Dermatologists observe your hair loss patterns and features, and if they match the following, it is termed as Telogen Effluvium or Traction Alopecia. 

  • The whole scalp faces hair thinning with or without hair loss on other parts of the body. 

  • Diffuse thinning is noted upon examination without total Alopecia having specific areas. Presence of normally thick short hair. 

  • Increased number of hairs noted in a slight hair pull test. 

Telogen Effluvium generally goes away on its own. To fasten the healing process, one should handle hair gently, avoid scalp massage, take hormonal treatment or scalp issues, increase intake of a nutritious diet, and deal with abnormal thyroid levels, iron, B12, which will help to better the thinning hair. 


Exploring more about trichotillomania reveals that its origins can be attributed to either a genetic predisposition or the impact of childhood trauma on an individual. However, it’s important to note that these explanations lack definitive proof and are primarily speculative conclusions drawn from certain research studies.

This condition is more prominent amongst adolescents and particularly adult females. The following are the symptoms noticed in anyone who might be suffering from this condition.

  • Continuous hair pulling consciously or subconsciously

  • Constant fidgeting with the hair.

  • Feeling satisfaction or relief after pulling out the hair.

  • Prominent hair losses or bald spots 

Trichotillomania is caused by either a genetic condition or a childhood trauma is affecting a person in this way. However, it is not based upon proofs and is only a speculation based upon some researches. 

Alopecia Areata

This is an unpredictable hair loss condition caused by an autoimmune disorder. While in mild cases, hair loss may be noticed in patches, extreme cases may result in complete balding of the scalp and other body parts. 

This is a condition not limited to age or gender, but most cases are reported before 30. Generally, in the reported cases, the person suffering also has a relative undergoing the same condition. 

The time span in which Alopecia Areata may engulf ranges from a few days to a week to a couple of months and sees a sudden development, thus a sudden hair loss condition. In milder Alopecia Areata cases with hair loss in patches, the person suffering generally recovers soon and entirely without treatment. 

Although some supporting treatments may improve the condition, especially in severe cases with excessive hair loss, there is no firm cure as such for the condition where the person can fully recover. 

But dermatologists suggest some regular precautions which can provide some help to the ailment. 

How To Reduce Stress Levels?

It may sound easy to say but definitely would not be as easy to practice. Nonetheless, it surely is not impossible, and you can do some things to lower your anxiety and stress levels and lead a healthier life overall. Here are some habits that you must inculcate to reduce your stress levels.

  • Cut off on stimulants: Cut off on stimulants you are someone who loves caffeine or alcohol or nicotine; you must completely avoid it or drastically reduce your consumption. These stimulate your hormones and, in turn, increase your stress levels.

  • Sleep adequately: Working long hours into the night or sleeping in breaks will only cause you harm. Getting a good night’s rest is essential and will make your mind more productive and active and lower its stress. Try to create a peaceful atmosphere in your bedroom with a cool temperature, as this will prevent you from waking up multiple times in the night.

  • Loosen up: Getting your body to loosen up and exercise in any form will benefit you greatly. Your laziness will increase, and motivation will die down unless you get up and get yourself going. The surge of pride and productivity in treating your body well will thus reduce your stress.


You must understand that hair loss is a common problem, and you are not alone. All you must do is understand the cause of your anxiety or stress and try to eliminate it, which will eventually help with the hair re-growth. 

The more you take it upon yourself to lead a healthier life, the more it will benefit you. And if you can’t treat it naturally, there is always some medical treatment that you can seek and deal with it. 

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