Stress induced Hair Loss
Stress can cause many conditions that lead to hair loss including Alopecia Areata, Telogen Effluvium and Trichotillomania. Homeopathy corrects all of them as it treats patients’ stressed condition in a holistic manner.
Happiness has an emotional bounce - it adds a bright, shiny look to our overall confidence and also behaviour. It ‘pumps’ zest to everything we do, including our hair. Stress has just the opposite effect.
No one is exempt from the manifold pressures and stresses of life. Some of us cope with stresses well, while some allow them to run riot and create serious trouble for themselves and also for others around them.
Stress is, in actuality, an infinite process. Think of it - peer pressure, business competition and danger lurking around the corner, or fear of the unknown, social taboo or tensions. These are issues and also reactions that cannot be put under the lid or ‘purged’ easily.
Our day-to-day life too has its allocation of stress: marital, financial and workplace problems. If there were no human resilience, stress would have probably knocked us out, or made us as dead as the dodo!
The fact is our psyche is so stunningly ‘engineered’ that some stresses are managed well, while some are yielded to, or accepted. Besides, one sort of manages to live with them, till one ‘breaks’ down in the wake of stressful hopelessness.
The effect of stress on hair loss has been known for a long time. While it is natural to lose about 50-100 strands of hair each day, there is reason for us to worry when our hair thins, or falls, in clumps, or small bald patches appear. When this happens, you’d think of stress as a factor affecting your health and, in turn, your hair.
Stress Effect on Hair Loss
Stress, according to scientific research, affects our body in more ways than one. It affects our nervous, endocrine (hormonal) and also immune systems. When stress disturbs balance or harmony in any of the systems, they do not function at their best. This can have profound health consequences – from hair loss to a host of other illnesses.
Stress-triggered hair loss is generally short-term, or temporary. It is profound when the stressor exists, or is continually present. Chronic, or extreme, stress for long periods can cause substantial damage to your hair, sometimes leading to permanent baldness.
Once the stress factor is reduced, there is often re-growth, although the process can take up to six months, or more - provided there is no other stress factor waiting to ‘detonate.’
- Feel irritable
- Low self-esteem
- Mood changes; low mood
- Have racing thoughts
- Worry constantly
- Imagine that something worse is going to happen
- Lose your temper easily
- Drink more; smoke more
- Talk fast, or go out often
- Change in your eating habits
- Isolate yourself; not socialise
- Are forgetful or awkward
- Are impetuous; act hastily
- Have difficulty to concentrate or focus
Chronic, or prolonged periods of stress like illness, divorce, death of a loved one, job loss, surgical stress, or accidents can trigger temporary hair loss. It can stop hair from growing. After a few months, the hair falls out and is not replaced.
Why does this happen? Severe stress can cause the growing hair follicles to prematurely move into the regression phase and, thereafter, the resting phase, during which the hair fall out uneventfully.
The shedding may not be apparent for the first few weeks; but, when it occurs suddenly, it becomes obvious. This may occur as a delayed response, so it is often a ‘hairy’ catch-22 situation for the person suffering from the condition.
What compounds the problem is the stressful event per se is often forgotten. It is also seldom connected with the ‘new’ dilemma - hair loss. The end result is a scalp showing hair loss.
Trichotillomania – Pulling Hair Out
A rather strange type of hair loss results from compulsive, or compelling, hair pulling. This is a psychological disorder. It is called trichotillomania (TTM) - tricho for hair and mania for such a ‘self-inflicted’ fad.
It most often affects women more than men. It also affects young children and teenagers, most often girls than boys - primarily in response to anxiety, peer and parental pressure. Sometimes, the affected individual may also eat their hair!
If you do 2 or more of the following, you may most likely have trichotillomania.
- Repeated pulling one’s own hair out, typically from scalp, eyebrows or eyelashes
- A strong urge to pull hair - this gives relief or comfort from anxiety or stress
- Patchy bald areas on the scalp or other areas of your body
- Thin or missing eyelashes or eyebrows
- Chewing or eating pulled-out hair
- Playing with pulled-out hair.
Counselling, along with emotional and family support, is imperative. Homeopathy Medical treatment for Trichotillomania is aimed at treating the underlying factor and also stress.
Fortunately, once pulling and tugging of hair stops, hair can grow back again, because TTM is a temporary form of hair loss.
A Case in Point
Eighteen-year-old Sushmita (name changed) presented with hair loss. Her mother reported, with obvious distress, that Sushmita was losing “a lot of hair for the past 3-4 months.” We analysed and also did a video microscopy test and found that Sushmita’s hair loss was caused by trichotillomania – pulling out hair on purpose.
After we heard her mother’s ‘plea’ to help stop her daughter’s hair loss, we spoke to Sushmita separately. To begin with, she was unwilling to ‘talk’ about her problem. Slowly, she began to open up. She said that she always wanted to study engineering, but her parents were forcing her to opt for medicine, for which she had no liking or interest. She reported that this was a terrifying ‘subject’ of discussion, everyday, at the dinner table. She said that she could not bear her parents’ constant pressure tactics, nagging and the like. To get over her stress, there was nothing else she’d think of, except pulling her own hair - a practice which she said gave her emotional relief, or outlet to getting over her nerves, or angst.
We counselled her and put her on an appropriate homeopathic medicine. It wasn’t long before her ‘hair pulling’ episodes stopped and she regained her lost hair.