The Connection Between Stress and Hair Loss

I have been so stressed that I felt like pulling my hair out, but did you know our bodies sometimes do it for us?

Hair loss and thinning can be a symptom that is frustrating and embarrassing to deal with. But there is hope. We are all busy women with lots of demands placed on us, but it does not have to take so much of a toll on our overall health.

Achieving whole-body wellness with hormone balance and emotional calm will impact not only your hair but also your ability to handle stressful situations in your life.

REWRITING WHAT’S NORMAL

“I’m feeling pretty stressed” has become a common response to questions about our well-being. In our non-stop culture that promotes being busy and doing everything for everyone, it is easy to accept that feeling stressed is just a part of life.

But it doesn’t have to be! In fact, it shouldn’t be if you want to keep your body healthy.

Feeling chronically stressed should not be a badge of honor for saying “I’m superwoman.” Instead, it could be wreaking havoc on your internal systems and hormone balance, leading to a variety of unsavory symptoms, including hair loss.

HORMONES AND STRESS

Hormones dictate and influence just about all of your body’s functions. When you’re stressed, your HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis is activated, whether the stress is perceived, emotional, or physical. Your HPA axis is what sends your body into survival mode because of the release of cortisol and adrenaline from your adrenal glands. While these hormones are essential, especially when you are truly facing a threat, living with consistently elevated levels causes hormone chaos in your body. This is known as chronic stress.

Your body is designed to have increased levels of cortisol in the morning to energize you for your day and lower levels at night to prepare you for sleep. However, staying stressed leads to these levels staying elevated, which leads to higher blood sugar levels and brain activity, making it hard to fall asleep.

I know you’ve been there…. caught in the vicious cycle of wired and tired, creating more and compounding already high levels of stress. Not being able to break out of the downward spiral. I have been there, too.

When cortisol and adrenaline are released and stay at higher levels, they redirect your body’s attention away from “unnecessary” processes, like digestion, reproduction…and, yep, even hair growth. Your thyroid is deeply impacted by your stress, as are your estrogen and progesterone. This is because your body sees their roles as non-essential during times of high stress.

Guess what all of these hormones have in common? They all have an impact on the health and growth of your hair!

HORMONE IMBALANCE AND HAIR LOSS

I am a strong believer in restoring the function of your HPA axis to achieve whole-body wellness. This is the root cause of your body’s stressed state, so achieving a calm mind and balance in this area could greatly impact your overall hormonal health and help regrow your hair.

Here are some of the root causes that could be reasons why your hair is thinning:

#1 – Telogen Effluvium: This is a recognized medical condition. As part of your hair’s natural growth process, it enters into a resting state called telogen that is followed by natural shedding. (1) That’s why it is normal to lose some hair every day. When your body is under constant stress, however, increased levels of cortisol and adrenaline will push the hair follicles into this state unnecessarily, causing the hair to fall out prematurely and resulting in your hair thinning. (2)

#2 – Thyroid Imbalance: Hair loss is a recognized symptom of both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, so maintaining a balance in your thyroid hormones is critical in achieving healthy hair growth. Additionally, autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s that are directly related to thyroid function could cause hair to fall out. If you think your thyroid could be the culprit, check out my 5 Easy Ways to Support Your Thyroid and 7 Best Essential Oils for Thyroid Health to give that little gland the boost it needs!

#3 Disrupted Feminine Hormones: Your body maintains a small amount of testosterone as part of a healthy hormone balance. Because of higher levels of estrogen and progesterone, you typically do not experience any more “masculine” symptoms associated with testosterone. However, when your body’s levels of the feminine hormones decrease due to stress or menopause, it can cause the balance to be thrown off and the increased concentration of testosterone can contribute to hair thinning.

SO, WHAT’S NEXT?

Women who are between the ages of 30 and 60 are most likely to experience hair loss due to their natural hormone fluctuations of perimenopause and menopause. Add to this hormonal shift a demanding lifestyle full of stressors, and hair loss is a likely symptom.

The good news is that it is typically reversible!

People find that, with diet changes, self-care, and restored hormone balance, hair will regrow within six months. (4)

There are several ways to approach healing yourself from the inside to improve these outward symptoms:

#1 – Targeted Nutrition Changes

Increasing your protein and iron specifically have been found effective in treating hair loss. (3) If your hair thinning is caused by Hashimoto’s, there have been favorable results with increasing your body’s ferritin levels. (4)

Choosing nutrient-dense foods and high-quality supplements will help heal your deficiencies and give your body the building blocks it needs to be healthy.

#2 – Hormonal Balance 

Supporting your body’s hormone function is critical in overcoming your symptoms of hair loss.

Ultimately, you want to make sure you are fueling your body with wholesome foods, caring for your mind and soul to limit stress, and supporting your body’s natural functions with products that do not contain harmful ingredients. My Essentially Whole Hormone Balance supplement is the perfect way to, yes, support healthy hair (especially in perimenopause and menopause), but ultimately to address the hormones that are likely causing the problem in the first place. Learn more here >>

#3 – Self-Care with Essential Oils 

Since the underlying cause of your problem is most likely related to stress, getting that under control is vital to improving your symptoms and getting yourself back to wellness. Lowering stress will decrease your cortisol and adrenaline levels, allowing your body to focus its energy on all of its biological processes, not just the ones necessary for survival.

Essential oils are one of my favorite self-care tools to help my body relax and restore balance. Pairing them with daily rituals — whether that is a walk, meditation, prayer, journaling time, an Epsom salt bath, or anything else that brings you joy — will add power to your life. Check out my Top 5 Essential Oils for Hormonal Balance for some ideas on using them to get your hormone homeostasis back, or use one of these blends to help heal your body!

THE BOTTOM LINE

Don’t settle for being stressed and feeling like you are out of control of your mind and body. Take the steps to care for yourself emotionally and physically, and watch as you are able to conquer your days with energy, strength, and beautiful hair!

Ultimately (as with just about everything), it all comes back to your hormones. When your hormones are unhealthy, stress will cause more damage, your body won’t have what it needs to thrive, and even your hair will suffer.

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References:
1. https://www.aocd.org/page/telogeneffluviumha
2.  Romm, Aviva M.D. The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution. HarperOne, New York. 2017.
3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321590.php
4. Romm, Aviva M.D. The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution. HarperOne, New York. 2017.

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