Does Stress Cause Hair Loss?

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

Is there a correlation between hair loss and stress?

Doctor's response

Both emotional and physical stress (such as a serious illness or recovery from surgery) have been associated with hair loss. It is possible that stress induces hormonal changes that are responsible for the hair loss, since hair loss is a known consequence of other hormonal changes due to pregnancy, thyroid disturbances, or even from taking oral contraceptives.

Nervous habits, such as scalp rubbing or hair twisting or pulling may also be responsible for hair loss. These habits may be responses to psychological stress in some people and may be another cause of stress-related hair loss. Excessive hair-pulling is a form of impulse-control disorder medically referred to as trichotillomania.

The hair loss from hormonal changes often disappears after a period of months to two years. As with other stress-related symptoms, learning and practicing effective stress-management techniques can help reduce the severity of the symptoms.

Medically reviewed by Robert Bargar, MD; Board Certification in Public Health & General Preventive Medicine

REFERENCE:

"Evaluation and diagnosis of hair loss"
UpToDate.com

Reviewed on 7/11/2017

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