Hair Loss due to Stress and Anxiety
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“So many people don’t ask themselves what the hair loss causes are” - Dr. Berg
As you finish your shower, you notice a large clump of hair by the drain. You make a note to ask your family to please clean up after themselves; then, looking more closely, you realize to your shock it’s your own hair.
Lots of it.
More than you recall ever seeing after one shampoo.
Snatching up your comb, you run it through your wet hair, gasping as hundreds of strands are easily caught in the teeth. You examine yourself in the mirror, noting the thinning patches you’ve been telling yourself were just your imagination.
There’s no more denying it - you’re losing your hair. You vaguely remember watching a commercial for minoxidil for hair loss, but the long list of potential side effects is enough to scare off even the bravest person.
Besides, you'd much rather understand the potential hair loss causes that you're dealing with so you can directly address them in the most natural way possible.
Common Causes Of Hair Loss That May Surprise You
You probably know that your hair can fall out because of side effects of harsh chemicals, blow-drying, or even a shock to your system resulting in hair falling out in patches. Yet there are several issues that cause hair loss, which, though they're common, may still surprise you. As you read through this information, make note of which scenarios and their remedies apply to you.
And I promise, minoxidil - which is a topical treatment for male pattern baldness - won't be one of my recommendations. Even though it's FDA-approved, there are much healthier alternatives.
You may be surprised to discover that one of the most significant and complex reasons for hair loss is the effect of hormones on your hair rather than the better-known male-pattern reason.
Cortisol is your stress hormone, and when your cortisol levels are out of kilter it will cause hair loss. I cover the effect of cortisol levels in depth, along with remedies to the hair loss it causes, later in this article.
Next, we’ll look at estrogen levels. Your estrogen could be high - such as when you’re pregnant or taking birth control pills - which in turn will inhibit your thyroid function and result in hair loss. To remedy high estrogen, eat cruciferous vegetables. They’re anti-estrogenic and important parts of an anti-inflammatory regimen, which will also help prevent hair loss and nourish your hair follicles.
Conversely, after pregnancy your estrogen level drops, which indirectly increases your testosterone level. A high testosterone level can then convert to a very powerful form of testosterone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which burns out your hair follicles. An effective remedy is stinging nettle root because it helps deactivate the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT and will save your hair follicles.
Women who are menopausal also experience a decrease in both estrogen and testosterone; however, testosterone doesn’t drop as much as the estrogen does. This results in a comparatively high testosterone level, which then can convert to DHT and burn out your hair follicles similar to what happens postpartum. The remedy is the same as for post-partum estrogen decrease: take stinging nettle root.
An increase in insulin can result in insulin converting to male hormones called androgens, which are often part of a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS causes loss of hair on your head but, ironically, facial hair growth which as a woman is not exactly where you want new hair!
As well, if you’re either a man or a woman who’s diabetic or insulin resistant (a pre-diabetic state), you’ll benefit from learning more about the effects of elevated insulin levels on not only your hair but the rest of your body.
If you have a sluggish thyroid, known as hypothyroidism, your thyroid hormones are imbalanced and you’ll experience hair loss. Plus, the outer third of your eyebrows will thin out.
Often the underlying cause of hypothyroidism is a liver or gallbladder problem, which leaves your body unable to convert its required thyroid hormones. Take time to assess what the issues with your thyroid could be; then, try an appropriate remedy.
Stress Wreaks Havoc On Your Hair
Of all the reasons I’ve laid out, hair loss due to stress is a missing link for most people. Let’s take a closer look at how hair loss occurs when you’re under high stress.
As I mentioned, cortisol is the stress hormone. It’s produced in your adrenal glands. When your body goes through too much stress - such as a significant personal loss - your cortisol will spike, causing your body to break down proteins and turn them into sugar to use for fuel.
And what are the sources of protein in your body that will break down? Hair - along with nails, skin, and collagen. If your cortisol levels are high, the hair loss will be generally spread over your head.
After the stress event, your cortisol levels will drop and can result in an autoimmune disorder called alopecia, where your body mistakes your hair roots for foreign invaders and attacks them, leading to a pattern hair loss of patches.
Alopecia isn't only embarrassing, if left untreated it can cause hair loss over your entire scalp - totalis - and even over your whole body.
Your goal is to have normal cortisol levels that don’t wildly fluctuate and cause hair loss but instead support hair growth.
You may think it’s obvious when your cortisol levels are too high or too low, but it’s not always so. A quick self-test you can do is to take 60 strands of your hair and gently pull them. Fewer than six strands should come out when you do this hair-pulling test. If there are more than that, chances are there’s too much cortisol in your body and is a cause of hair loss for you.
Remedies To Normalize Cortisol
One obvious remedy is to remove the causes of stress in your life, whether it’s environmental, at your job, or relationship and family problems. Do what you can to resolve stressful situations. (If only we could swap out challenging family members!)
Your body accumulates stress like a seamstress’ pincushion accumulates straight pins. Try acupressure, like I do, to remove internal stress and lessen your hair loss.
As well, feed hair the nutrients it needs to be strong and healthy, especially B vitamins, calcium, and potassium that are depleted by stress.
Finally, you can increase growth hormones, which are anti-aging, in contrast to cortisol, which is aging. Growth hormones actually protect proteins (thus, it protects your hair).
You can increase growth hormones naturally. First, do high-intensity exercise - but be sure to get adequate rest and recovery. Get enough high quality sleep. Eat a good amount of protein.
Most importantly, intermittent fasting is the best way to increase growth hormone and decrease cortisol. Intermittent fasting, or IF as it’s known, means you eliminate all snacks while first eating three meals a day, then two, then one.
Your Gut Causes Hair Loss
Believe it or not, there’s a strong link between hair loss and your digestion.
One of the key nutrients for your hair health is biotin. Biotin is one of the B vitamins, and it’s a co-enzyme that’s essential for helping your body make protein for hair.
Microbes in your gut make biotin.
Sounds pretty straightforward!
But if, for example, you’ve been exposed to antibiotics you decrease the number of friendly bacteria in your gut, resulting in less biotin production; thus, hair loss.
Adding insult to injury, antibiotic exposure also results in an increase in the type of bacteria called lactobacillus murinus, which can’t make biotin. Put simply, this microbial imbalance means you can’t make enough biotin to sustain your hair. Instead, you experience hair loss.
Even if you haven’t taken antibiotics for years, if you’re eating or drinking genetically modified organisms (GMO) products you’ll be exposed to the chemical glyphosate, which is a type of antibiotic. And glyphosate is seemingly everywhere - in water, in food, on vegetables and fruits, even in the feed that’s eaten by the animals we eat.
A helpful remedy is to take a good probiotic to build up the flora in your gut; as well, make sure you take key nutrients for your hair including biotin.
Hair Growth Instead Of Hair Loss
Hair loss is embarrassing, especially for women.
Male-pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia) is common in men, although may be no less embarrassing than for women as evidenced by the myriad commercials urging men to get hair transplants to disguise their baldness.
As a woman, your hair is often a point of pride and a significant part of your identity. When hair starts to thin out and you develop bald spots, it’s devastating. Your self-esteem takes a blow, and all you can think of is how to regrow your hair.
Not only do you feel self-conscious, but hair loss can also be a sign of serious underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, insulin resistance, or an autoimmune disease that will ravage your body if left untreated.
Now that you know these hair loss reasons and their remedies, you've got the information you need to take charge of your beauty and your health.
You don't have to risk embarrassment by the thinning scalp of encroaching female-pattern baldness.
You can step out and feel confident in your appearance, knowing you look good but also are supporting your health.
*Any comments on our blog or websites relating to weight loss results may or may not be typical and your results will vary depending on your diet and exercise habits.
***Always consult a professional before making any significant changes to your health.