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Stress and temporary hair loss

Everybody loves a good crop of hair on their head and though hair as such serves no specific function, since we can very well live without it, people do get paranoid when they notice hair fall that is in excess of normal and when they are growing bald. Many centuries ago, our ancestors found hair to be useful in keeping them warm and as some kind of insulation. Today however, we have many celebrities preferring to be totally clean shaven and they are most comfortable with it. However, the phenomena of sudden hair loss is still something that affects most people and one of the primary reasons could be the daily stress that people have to undergo.

When your body undergoes sudden physiological changes prompted by external events, trauma, medication or stress, hair fall is often the result. It is almost as if the body feels it has far more on its plate already to bother about something inconsequential as hair, and does nothing to prevent it from falling.

The body’s inbuilt healing mechanism considers the physiological changes to be far more important and that leads to hair follicles temporarily experiencing stoppage of growth and transitioning into a phase of rest. The process has been referred to as ‘telogen effluvium’ and involves not only temporary stoppage of hair growth but simultaneous shedding of hair as well.

This phase can go on for up to 12 weeks and if not treated can continue. It tends to affect women much more than men. The most common causes are childbirth, divorce, stress at work, financial issues, a death in the family and so on. The positive news however is that this is a temporary phenomenon and as stress levels start coming down, the hair follicles slowly begin to get back to the growth stage.

There are some things you can do to ensure that the ‘telogen’ phase does not prolong beyond the 8-12 week period. They are:

  • Indulge in some physical exercise so that endorphins are released and they are most useful in reducing stress.
  • You can put down your thoughts in a diary and maintain it on a daily basis. This will help in getting clarity on issues that are muddling your thought process and reduce stress.
  • You can gently massage your scalp using your fingertips to get blood circulation going. This will promote growth of hair and relax the scalp muscles.
  • Get a reality check and tone down expectations. Stress results out of disappointment and that occurs when expectations are not met fully. Hence toning down expectations would go a long way in reducing stress.