Stress Management Effects on Health The Link Between Stress and Hair Loss By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD Twitter Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. Learn about our editorial process Updated on September 17, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by David Susman, PhD Medically reviewed by David Susman, PhD David Susman, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist with experience providing treatment to individuals with mental illness and substance use concerns. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Asia Images / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Normal Hair Loss Hereditary Hair Loss Effects of Stress Other Factors Stress Relief It's very common for hair to change in texture and thickness over the course of one's life. Knowing this may not make it easier if you're one whose hair is getting thinner seemingly with each passing day. If your hair is thinning or falling out, you are probably anxious to find out why. Is hair loss due to stress, heredity, or some other factor? The answer is “yes” to all three. The following are some types of hair loss, with information about each: Normal Hair Loss This may be a surprise, but our hair wasn't meant to stay in your scalp indefinitely. There is a natural life span to each strand of hair after which it falls out naturally. In fact, we all lose about 100 hairs per day, out of the 100,000 contained by the average scalp. This is due to a few factors: Aging: After the age of 30 (and often before), men and women both start losing hair, though men tend to do so at a faster rate.Lifespan: The average lifespan of a single hair is 4.5 years; the hair then falls out and is replaced within 6 months by a new hair.Styling: Shampooing, blow-drying, and brushing hair can all cause a few hairs to fall out; most of us do this regularly. Hereditary Hair Loss Genetic hair loss isn’t due to excessive amounts of hair falling out, as many believe, but to an insufficient amount of hairs growing back to replace the hairs that have been shed. The result, however, is the same: receding hairlines and pattern baldness. Hereditary baldness is associated with a few factors: Age: By age 30, one in four men is balding; by age 60, two in three men are balding or bald.Gender: Hereditary, or “pattern” baldness, is much more common in men than in women.Hormones: Pattern baldness is associated with testosterone; women who have more of it in their system as they age tend to lose (or, technically, fail to re-grow) more hair. This is also why more men experience pattern baldness. How Stress Can Lead to Hair Loss You may have heard that stress can cause hair loss, and it’s true. While the first two causes of hair loss are genetically programmed, hair loss due to stress is environmentally caused and may be more easily controlled if the stress can be managed. Excessive physical or emotional stress—like that associated with injury, illness, or surgery—can cause one of two types of hair loss: Alopecia areata: This stress-induced hair loss involves a white blood cell attack on the hair follicles. With this type of hair loss, the hair also falls out within weeks (usually in patches), but can involve the entire scalp and even body hair. Hair may grow back on its own, but treatment may also be required.Telogen effluvium: With this more common and less severe type of hair loss, the hair stops growing and lies dormant, only to fall out 2 or 3 months later. Then it grows back within 6 to 9 months. Other Hair Loss Factors There are other factors that can also cause hair loss, including but not limited to: ChemotherapyHormonal changesIllnessNervous habitsPregnancy, childbirth, and birth control pill usage If your hair is thinning, or you’re experiencing baldness and it seems abnormal (i.e. if you’re in your teens or 20s, if it’s an odd pattern, etc.) it’s a good idea to see your doctor in order to determine the cause. Also, if you’re concerned that stress is the culprit, it’s always a good idea to cut down on lifestyle stress and find some effective coping techniques for the stress that remains. Specifically, the following resources can help. How to Relieve Stress You can't always prevent stress from occurring in your life, but you can often minimize the amount of stress you experience, and when you cut down on stress in some areas, you have more energy to manage the stress that can't be avoided. These techniques can help you cut out stress in your life when possible. Short-Term Stress Relief Quick-fix stress relievers aren't just "band-aid solutions." If you can reverse your stress response in the moment, you can minimize your experience of chronic stress. It helps to have a somewhat comprehensive stress management plan, and techniques that act quickly are an important part of that. Some fast-acting stress relievers you might want to try include: Aromatherapy Breathing exercises Exercise Meditation Progressive muscle relaxation Visualization Habits to Increase Resilience Some habits are highly effective for managing stress in the moment and building resilience toward future stress as well. The key is to make them a regular part of your life, even when you aren't feeling overwhelmed by stress. Some stress-relievers that can improve your ability to hand stress include: Eating a healthy diet Finding social support Getting regular exercise Meditation Practicing mindfulness Practicing self-care Meditation, exercise, and other habits can help you to create in yourself a greater ability to withstand stress—learn more about them. The Best Tools for Stress Relief 7 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Phillips TG, Slomiany WP, Allison R. Hair Loss: Common Causes and Treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2017;96(6):371-378. Mysore V, Parthasaradhi A, Kharkar RD, et al. Expert consensus on the management of Telogen Effluvium in India. Int J Trichology. 2019;11(3):107-112. doi:10.4103/ijt.ijt_23_19 Adil A, Godwin M. The effectiveness of treatments for androgenetic alopecia: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2017;77(1):136-141.e5. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2017.02.054 Malkud S. Telogen Effluvium: A Review. J Clin Diagn Res. 2015;9(9):WE01-3. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2015/15219.6492 Rossi A, Fortuna MC, Caro G, et al. Chemotherapy-induced alopecia management: Clinical experience and practical advice. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2017;16(4):537-541. doi:10.1111/jocd.12308 Piérard-franchimont C, Piérard GE. Alterations in hair follicle dynamics in women. Biomed Res Int. 2013;2013:957432. doi:10.1155/2013/957432 Goyal M, Singh S, Sibinga EM, et al. Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(3):357-68. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13018 Additional Reading National Institute of Health By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Stress Management Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.