The Science Behind Stress-Induced Hair Loss and Telogen Effluvium

The Science Behind Stress-Induced Hair Loss and Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium (TE), more commonly known as stress-induced hair loss, is likely the second most common type of hair loss that dermatologists see. TE may be short-lived or long lasting, and it is caused by exposure to stress and anxiety. There are three possible causes for TE. The first cause is shock to hair follicles caused by environmental factors. This shock leads to diffuse patterns of thinning on the scalp and typically shows up two to three months after a major life event. Typically this type of TE takes less than six months to resolve. The second cause is gradual hair loss due to hair follicles which do not regenerate properly. Immediate thinning is unlikely in this situation. The type of TE is most likely cause by a chronic anxiety condition. The third cause is persistent shedding or thinning hair due to hair follicles which constantly go through shortened cycles. Many typical life events, such as giving birth, may cause TE. The condition has also been attributed to some vaccines, antidepressants, physical trauma events, and low-calorie diets. Treatments for TE are available and are based on the cause of the individual TE case. Reduction of stress through exercise, meditation, or therapy can help. If stress relief does not resolve the issue, low-level laser therapy or hair loss surgery may be required to treat the issue.

Key Points:

  • 1A 2014 national poll from NPR in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health found more than one in every four Americans suffered great deals of stress the month prior to the survey.
  • 2Half of those adults, or 115 million people, experienced a major stressful event that year.
  • 3Per the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders – often explained as chronic high stress and worry – are the most common mental disorder in the United States. Anxiety affects 40 million adults in the U.S., or 18 percent of the total national population.

The unwelcome feelings of stress and anxiety creep up when you least expect them. While intermittent feelings of worry are relatively normal, damaging stress levels are on the rise.These feelings of despair and anguish sometimes provoke thinning or shedding on the scalp.

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