• 12 March 2023
  • Dr Malay Mehta

Alopecia, more commonly known as “hair loss,” can affect both men and women at some point in their lives. There are many factors that may contribute to alopecia; however, we find many people ask, “Does stress cause hair to fall out?

Our leading hair restoration expert answers this and more in the article below.

Understanding hair loss

On average, you have about 100,000 hair follicles that are all in a different phase of the hair cycle. Your natural hair growth cycle is divided into three phases:

  • Anagen is the growth phase.
  • Catagen is a short phase over two weeks where the hair follicle begins to shrink.
  • Telogen is the resting part of the hair cycle and lasts about three months.

Hair loss can occur when there is a disruption to any part of this hair growth cycle. It is common to lose around 50 to 100 hair follicles per day, which most people won’t notice. However, if your hair is coming out in clumps or collecting in the shower drain, this is a sign that your hair loss is beyond the usual 50 to 100 a day and is considered a problem. This problematic hair loss can be attributed to various factors, including hormonal imbalances, genetics, medical conditions, stress, or anxiety.

What are the signs of hair loss?

There are many signs of hair loss due to stress.

  • a visible, receding hairline.
  • Bald spots are increasing in size.
  • thinner than normal hair.
  • broken hairs along your hairline, especially the forehead.
  • Your natural hair part is becoming wider.
does stress cause hair loss - Dr Malay Mehta

If you are stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious and notice you are developing a receding hairline, bald patches, increased hair loss, or thinning hair, it might be time to ask your doctor “Can stress cause hair loss”?

Stress, anxiety, and hair loss

Stress or anxiety can cause physical and emotional symptoms, including hair loss. When the body is under stress, it produces a hormone called cortisol, which can disrupt your hair growth cycle. Elevated cortisol levels can cause hair to prematurely enter the telogen phase, leading to hair loss. Research has not identified exactly why cortisol disrupts this cycle, but we do know that it does influence the type of hair loss you may suffer.

Different types of stress-related hair loss

Stress has been linked with three different types of hair loss conditions: telogen effluvium, alopecia areata, and trichotillomania.

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium is caused by a variety of physical or emotional stress factors, including:

  • childbirth,
  • surgery,
  • illness, and
  • emotional stress.

Telogen effluvium affects your hair during the resting phase (telogen stage) of the hair growth cycle. It causes most of your hair to prematurely enter this phase, resulting in excessive hair shedding. Usually, people will develop areas of baldness or patches of thinning, especially in the centre of their scalp.

does stress cause hair fall - Dr Malay Mehta

Telogen Effluvium, a type of stress-related hair loss, disrupts the resting phase of your hair growth cycle. This results in excessive hair shedding, baldness, and the thinning of your hair.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss. Like most autoimmune conditions, stress can be a trigger. Alopecia areata directly impacts the hair follicles, and the result is either hair loss in small, round patches on the scalp or across your entire scalp.

This particular stress-related hair loss condition can be classified into two different types:

  • Alopecia areata, which primarily affects your scalp,
  • Alopecia universalis causes hair loss throughout your body.


Trichotillomania is also known as a “hair-pulling disorder.” This type of hair loss is mechanical, where people who are stressed or anxious develop a strong urge to pull out the hair on their scalp, eyelashes, or eyebrows. This creates bald patches with noticeable hair loss and broken hair follicles.

What you can do when stress causes hair loss

There are many different things you can do to help manage your stress and, therefore, minimise your risk of developing hair loss.

Manage your stress levels.

You can reduce the risk of hair loss by learning how to effectively manage your stress levels. There are many different methods of stress management you can try:

  • Exercise is a great way to reduce or even eliminate stress. You can try walking, running, yoga, pilates, or other gym classes.
  • Hobbies make you happy! Embracing new hobbies is a great way to spend your time doing something you love and enjoy, which helps reduce stress levels.
  • Writing is also another proven way to manage stress. It helps you get your chaotic thoughts and feelings out, recognise stress triggers, and can be cathartic.
  • Meditation and breathing exercises are great ways to bring your focus to the present moment and calm your mind.
hair loss due to stress and anxiety - Dr Malay Mehta

Practising mindfulness and utilising different methods of stress management can help reduce your cortisol levels and therefore decrease your risk of developing stress-related hair loss.

Embrace a healthy diet.

Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for the health of your mind, body, and hair. Certain vitamins like vitamins C, B, and E are crucial for healthy hair growth, and a healthy diet can help reduce anxiety and stress.

  • Vitamin C helps build collagen, which is found in hair follicles. Foods rich in vitamin C include broccoli, bell peppers, citrus fruits, and strawberries.
  • Vitamin B promotes a healthy metabolism, skin, and hair growth, and it is found in foods like nuts, beans, dark leafy greens, and avocados.
  • Vitamin E contains antioxidants, which contribute to a healthy scalp, and it can be found in foods like spinach, sunflower seeds, olive oil, broccoli, and shrimp.

You should also drink plenty of water. Water helps to maintain healthy cell functioning, which can aid in improving the health of your hair.

Topical treatments for healthy hair

There are several topical creams or oils that can help with hair loss.

Topical minoxidil (Rogaine) is an over-the-counter medication available as a cream, spray, or foam. Although it’s not known exactly how minoxidil works, it’s believed to prolong the growth phase of your hair cycle.

Topical corticosteroids, like prednisone, can be used to treat alopecia areata. They are often used in conjunction with other alopecia treatment options.

Castor oil is a popular home remedy for the treatment of hair loss. Research to support this method is limited, although there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest castor oil may increase hair growth.

Can stress cause hair loss?

Stress can have a significant impact on hair loss. Chronic stress leads to increased cortisol levels, which can impact your natural hair cycle and your overall health. Understanding how stress or anxiety affects the body can help individuals take steps to prevent hair loss. By using the tips outlined above to manage your stress levels, you can control your hair loss and improve your mental and physical health.

And if you are still unsure if your hair loss is caused by stress or if you have other concerns about the health of your hair, you should talk to your doctor. They can help determine if it’s stress-related hair loss or if it’s caused by something else.

Dr Malay Mehta is an experienced and skilled doctor in dermatology and aesthetic cosmetic medicine. He can help discover the cause of stress-related hair loss or if there is an underlying condition. Contact us to find out more today!


Read all the commonly asked questions about stress-related hair loss below.

How can I stop my hair from falling out due to stress?

To stop your hair from falling out due to stress, you can try different methods of stress management, such as exercise, yoga, meditation, or a new hobby. You can also seek further help from your doctor or a psychologist.

How long does hair loss last after stress?

The duration of hair loss after stress can vary widely depending on the individual, the severity of the stressor, and any underlying health issues. In some cases, hair may begin to regrow within a few months after the stressor is resolved, while in other cases it may take longer.

How do I know if my hair loss is due to stress?

Hair loss can have many causes, including genetics, hormonal imbalances, medications, and autoimmune diseases. If you are experiencing hair loss, it is important to talk to your doctor to determine the underlying cause so you can receive the most effective treatment.

Why does stress cause hair loss?

Stress increases your cortisol levels, which can disrupt your natural hair growth cycle by causing your hair follicles to shed an increasing amount of hair. Stress may also result in trichotillomania, where people pull their hair out.

Does overthinking cause hair loss?

Overthinking alone is not likely to cause excessive hair loss. However, chronic stress or anxiety associated with overthinking can contribute to hair loss by disrupting the natural hair growth cycle, resulting in a type of stress-related hair loss.

Is stress-related hair loss permanent?

In many cases, stress-related hair loss is temporary, and hair will regrow once the stressor is resolved or effectively managed. However, in some cases, hair loss may be permanent due to damage to hair follicles or underlying medical conditions. It is important to talk to a doctor to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment options.

About The Author

Dr Malay Mehta

Dr Malay Mehta is passionate about offering men the confidence the've always wanted by performing hair transplants with outstanding hair density and natural looking results. He is known as the best hair transplant surgeon in Mumbai delivering amazing results at the most affordable prices in the area.


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