Stress can and often does result in hair loss due to a number of factors. One of the main reasons is that stress, through a convoluted route, can increase your body’s production of adrenaline. This can then be converted into cholesterol, which is capable of raising your body’s levels of testosterone. Testosterone is a male hormone (androgen) that has huge implications on hair growth, frequently causing hair loss and/or thinning in people who have follicles sensitive to circulating levels. However, too-high levels can also impact the hair growth cycle, especially in women.
Another important point is that when we are stressed we often do not look after ourselves as we should. For instance, we may skip meals or eat more processed foods than usual – which while convenient have little nutritional benefit. Diet has wide-reaching implications on hair growth, with improper nutrition being a leading cause of hair loss in women. This includes vitamin imbalances, iron deficiency, inadequate protein intake, and meals that contain too few calories. Stress also impacts digestion and the absorption of vital nutrients, reducing their effectiveness.
Furthermore, stress affects our immune system, making us more susceptible to illness. Like diet, general health is closely linked to hair health, with the flu, high fevers and systemic upsets often triggering hair loss approximately 2 months later. Stress can also trigger dandruff in individuals who are prone to it – and research is increasingly showing that flaky/itchy scalps can worsen or lead to hair loss.