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How To Take Control Of Stress & Hair Thinning

Hair Health

4 Min Read

By April Walloga2021-01-08

Hair thinning from stress can be difficult to bounce back from, both physically and emotionally.

After an acute stressor, such as a bad breakup or a big move, you may notice more hair shedding than usual a few months later. “When stress levels increase during major life events, a large group of hair follicles can prematurely shift into telogen, a phase of the hair growth cycle when hair can no longer grow and is preparing to fall out three to six months later,” explains Dr. Sophia Kogan, MD, co-founder and chief medical advisor at Nutrafol. Stress can also worsen existing hair thinning from underlying issues like hormones and nutrition, as well as trigger genetic predisposition to thinning hair. “I truly believe that all hair thinning is multifactorial and stress will almost always contribute,” adds Dr. Kogan. 

The tricky thing about stress and hair thinning is that even after an acute stressor passes, chronic or ongoing stressors (e.g., a toxic boss, financial insecurity, sleep deprivation) can hold back new hair growth. That’s why Dr. Kogan recommends a two-pronged approach of daily lifestyle de-stressing and using medical-grade stress adaptogens to build resilience to stress over time. 

Keep scrolling to learn how to take control of stress and speed up hair growth, naturally.  

How do I know if my hair thinning is from stress?

Often hair thinning from stress is generalized across the entire scalp rather than being concentrated in one spot like the hair part or hairline. Another indicator is to recall three to six months before your hair shedding started: Did you experience significant emotional or physical stress? Major emotional stressors like divorce, death of a loved one, or job loss, as well as physical stressors like surgery or rapid weight loss or gain, can spike cortisol and derail the hair growth cycle. “When we are stressed, our bodies release cortisol. This hormone prematurely signals the hair follicles to stop growing and to fall out,” says Dr. Kogan, who recommends seeing a board-certified dermatologist as the best way to identify root causes of hair thinning. In addition to stress, factors like hormones, metabolism, nutrition, and environment can affect hair growth. A dermatologist can uncover your root causes (there’s usually more than one) and rule out any underlying medical issues or diagnosable conditions. 

What if I can’t get rid of my stressors?

Longterm or chronic stress from the daily grind can be just as insidious to hair as sudden acute stress — and it’s much harder to eliminate from our lives. “We tend to think of stress as a relationship ending or big life event, but there’s underlying chronic stress, or micro-stressors, that add up to a level that is fairly high,” says Dr. Kogan. “A micro-stressor is anything from a boss yelling at you to constant emails. If you start your day with one micro-stressor, and then more keep getting stacked on, you’ll accumulate a ton of stress by the end of the day. And that stress is also cumulative throughout your lifetime.”

Bottom line: Some of us can’t remove our biggest stressors, and none of us can avoid stress entirely. “The idea isn’t to get rid of stress,” says Dr. Kogan, “the idea is to adapt. Stress adaptogens help balance cortisol levels and improve adaptation or resilience to stress. Nutrafol hair growth supplements target stress with the stress adaptogen ashwagandha, which has been shown in clinical studies to balance elevated cortisol levels in chronically stressed adults.”

How long does it take for hair to grow back?

“We used to say that the problem resolves itself when the stress has improved,” notes Dr. Kogan. “However, more people than ever are now experiencing chronic stress, which can contribute to an ongoing cycle of hair shedding, thinning, and delayed regrowth.” That’s why building a resilience to stress is so important. Daily lifestyle practices like meditation and yoga can help manage stress in the moment, while medical-grade, standardized ashwagandha has the power to lower cortisol levels and support hair growth over time. In clinical studies, ashwagandha has been shown to reduce stress within 60 days. Nutrafol users notice lower stress and better mood and sleep within one to two months and see thicker, faster-growing hair by month three.

While stress and hair thinning can seem overwhelming, the ways to take control are simple: 

  • See a dermatologist 
  • Support your body’s resilience to stress with stress adaptogens like the ashwagandha found in Nutrafol  
  • De-stress your lifestyle as much as possible
  • Practice calming rituals like meditation and yoga
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