Hair Loss And Mental Health

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Hair loss is also named as alopecia. Another term baldness is referred to as hair loss on certain areas of the head or body parts. Hair loss has various types. Some of the commonly observed hair loss types are:

  • Male pattern baldness
  • Female pattern baldness
  • Alopecia areata
  • Telogen effluvium

The causes behind all these types of hair loss are different from each other. Male pattern baldness results from a combination of genetic and hormonal abnormality. The reasons behind female pattern baldness are still unclear.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s own immune cells start considering hairs as invading cells and keep on destroying them. Telogen effluvium results from a physical or psychological stress. Post-pregnancy hair loss in women is the best example of this problem.

 

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What is the normal growth cycle of hairs?

It is necessary to understand the hair growth cycle for recognizing the problems associated with the hair loss and their solutions. The normal hair growth cycle is divided into three distinct stages

  1. Anagen
  2. Catagen
  3. Telogen

Anagen phase

The first stage of the hair growth cycle is anagen. There is an average increase of half an inch in the length of hairs per month. The growth rate is increased in the summer and is less in the winter. The duration of the anagen phase is 3-5 years with an average increase of 18 to 30 inches in length of hairs. This phase lasts much longer in Asians than in other ethnic groups, up to 7 years.

Catagen phase

At the end of the anagen phase, the next phase starts named catagen. This phase is a transitional one and it lasts for only 10 days.

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Telogen phase

The last phase of this growth cycle is the telogen phase. It is a resting phase in which hairs are released and ultimately falls out. The hair follicles remain inactive for 3 months and then the whole cycle is repeated. It is important to know that not all the hairs do not go through the same phase at the same time, otherwise, all the hairs will fall out at the same time. Therefore, the normal count of hair falling per day is up to 80 hairs per day.
Hair loss, thinning of hairs and other hair growth-related problems occur when the growth cycle is disrupted. The problem is triggered and even aggravated by conditions like metabolic imbalances, diseases or lack of nutrition. For example, excessive dieting for a long duration, high fever can prolong the telogen effluvium and shortens the anagen phase.
A proper diet and good care of your hair can be very helpful in maintaining the normal growth cycle of hairs.

 

What are the causes of Hair Loss?

There may be a number of factors that can contribute to hair loss. A less common cause of hair loss is the side effects of various medical treatments and medications. These include chemotherapy, HIV, AIDS, hypothyroidism.
Inflammation, fungal infection, radiation therapy and scarring are less common factors but are associated with hair loss to some extent.
Few routine life factors are also responsible for hair loss like diet, alcohol intake, lifestyle and sleep are contributing factors in the health of hairs.
Another most important factor is mental health. Mental issues like anxiety, depression and stress can cause extreme damage to hairs leading to extreme hair loss in a small duration of time by disturbing the normal hair growth cycle.
Sometimes it is quite impossible to find the exact cause of hair loss. Below in this article let us have a look at how mental health is related to hair loss and how it can be prevented.

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Effects of Anxiety on Hair Loss:

Anxiety can be a big contributor to the hair loss. If a person is suffering from anxiety, it may lead him to alopecia. However, hair loss is not the only symptom to conclude that a person is suffering from hair loss.
There are several other symptoms related to anxiety and hair loss is one of them. Hair loss becomes more problematic for the people who live in a constant tension of losing hairs. This increased tension makes the symptoms of hair loss even worse. Some people actually give so much stress to them that hair loss starts even if it’s not present before.
Hair loss has a complex relationship with anxiety. As discussed above in many cases it causes the hair loss while in several others it aggravates the already present hair fall disorder and makes it, even more, worse to control.
Anxiety causes a problem called trichotillomania. It is a habit that develops in a person, suffering from anxiety. In this, the person develops a habit of pulling his own hairs without even realising the pain. Such excessive pulling of hairs weakens the roots and causes hair breaking from the scalp of the head.
The anxiety does not affect hair loss a lot if it is not so critical. Anxiety is a long-term persistent stress condition. Technically speaking, these both are extremely different from each other. The symptoms of anxiety and stress are quite similar, in fact, the anxiety is a prolonged stressful physical and mental condition.

Various conditions caused due to stress are:

  • Telogen Effluvium is a condition in which the rate of falling hairs is more than usual.
  • Alopecia Areata is a sudden loss of large clumps of hairs from the scalp.
  • Trichotillomania (unintentional hair plucking) is also sometimes caused by the anxiety.

All these conditions are directly related to hair growth cycle and stress. But it is very much important to determine that hair loss is due to anxiety or something else. Always consult a hair specialist in case of severe hair loss to avoid alopecia and find the best treatment.
While it is not necessary that hair loss is only due to anxiety but it may be present along with other reasons. Hair loss can occur at any age and the reasons behind it may vary like stress due to study, work and business. Anxiety and hair loss are mostly each other’s trigger, one aggravates the other situation. Increased hair loss leads to increased anxiety and vice versa.
Hair loss due to anxiety can be reversed because in most of the cases it’s not permanent. Alleviating the cause of the anxiety can reduce hair loss and even re-growth of hairs but it is not a guarantee that even after alleviating the cause of anxiety hair will not come back. The hair loss may be due to natural reasons and it may cause an increase in anxiety.

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Hair loss due to depression:

Hair loss is also a symptom of depression including many others. Hair loss and depression are related to each other. Depression affects the health of the hairs and reduces the strength of the hairs making them dry and easily breakable.

Various physiological states of depression like low mood, decreased self-esteem, feeling of being exhausted can also contribute to hair loss making it even worse.
Hair loss can also be a side effect of various anti-depressant drugs like Prozac. In many cases, depression may not be responsible for hair loss or maybe not that much critical to initiate the problem. When the person takes the medicine as a remedy that may initiate the hair loss due to its side effects. It is necessary to consult a physician if you are having hair loss to replace the medicine with a suitable one for you.

Hair loss due to Chronic Stress:

Stress is one of the major factors among the other four factors. One is emotional stress and it can significantly increase the hair loss and can even seize the hair growth cycle resulting in extreme hair loss. Once the growth cycle has stopped than hair goes to the dormant stage of growth and usually sheds after two months. Stress is basically a part of almost every mental illness like depression, severe anxiety and insomnia. The most common cause of hair loss due to stress is telogen effluvium but it is not forever and once the stress is gone than hairs will grow back again.

 

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Is there any treatment of Hair loss due to Mental Health?

In most of the cases of Hair Loss and Mental Health, it is temporary and can be treated. The underlying problem is almost always stress. It causes the hairs to stay in the dormant phase during the period of stress and once the stress is released the hairs will come back in the growth phase again. In case of continued or prolonged stress, hairs will not grow once shed.
Once the reason behind hair loss is diminished you will notice a growth of hairs on your head again.
If hair growth is due to some underlying medical disorder than a proper treatment is necessary to cure the hair fall. The GP will decide the medication after determine the exact cause and need of the body. A few effective medications are present in the market that have been approved in the UK as hair loss treatment. Minoxidil and Finasteride are commonly tried interventions.
Other than medications hair transplant surgery, steroid injections in the scalp area affected with alopecia areata are a few commonly used options by people suffering from chronic hair loss. Steroid injections have to be given a number of times to maintain the efficacy.
Hair loss is a very common problem in the male as well as female population but is more prevalent among men. Only a quarter of females get affected by pattern hair loss but half of the men get affected by this problem by the age of 50. About 2% of people develop alopecia areata at some time in their life.
If you are also suffering from hair loss and its getting quite critical than you should immediately consult a hair practitioner. He is the only one who can help you by looking for an exact treatment for your hair loss problem.

 

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