Stress, the levels of it that we regularly maintain in our lives, and the way we respond to its pressure all play roles in many facets of our health and well-being. The Mayo Clinic notes that in addition to common stress effects such as headaches, fatigue, change in sex drive, anxiety, irritability, and changes in eating habits, ongoing stress that isn’t managed can also contribute to larger issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Sources of stress vary as well and can include sudden, unexpected life changes such as the death of a loved one as well as ongoing, daily overloading such as a single parent working two jobs while raising children. Different types of stress lead to different types of physiological response, and as the National Institute of Mental Health points out, “changes in health from routine stress may be hardest to notice at first.” This is to say that the long term impact of day-to-day stress can play a role in our health that is less than apparent until damage has already been done.
So, what does this have to do with hair?
These impacts of stress also take a toll on your locks. Initial responses to stress such as changes in eating or sleeping habits as well as long term physiological effects like heart disease and other illnesses can push the body to begin prioritizing where it allocates attention and nutrients. Hair drops to the bottom of the list, halting active growth as the energy required to sustain healthy hair is shifted to taking care of other, more integral and under pressure, parts of the body. This phenomenon is known as telogen effluvium, a term which describes the movement of hairs which would otherwise be in their growth phase to a resting phase. While typically approximately 90% of the hairs on a head are growing and about 10% are resting and shedding, manes experiencing telogen effluvium have a lower percentage of growing hairs and a higher percentage of resting and shedding hairs, causing unwanted thinning and premature loss.
Yikes! Then what can we do about it?
There are many options available for men and women dealing with hair thinning and loss due to stress, and speaking with an experienced hair restoration specialist is the best place to begin. Whether electing to foster healthy hair regrowth or choosing to pursue full replacement possibilities, a professional can offer personalized insight to individualized options and expectations while providing moral support and understanding along the way. Whatever route one chooses to take, it is important to combine hair care with a positive and healthy approach to stress prevention, reduction, and response. Over the coming months, we will feature some key methods for doing this to aid in combating stress for the benefit of our bodies – hair and all.
Photo credit: Maegan Tintari via Flickr Creative Commons
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