People tend to think that hair loss and stress go together like hairdressers and gossip. After all, the state of our hair seems to be tied up with an awful lot of strong emotions.

A big fright can “make the hair on the back of your neck stand up”, if it doesn’t “make your hair curl”. And a stressful situation can leave you “tearing your hair out”. 

Even after all that, you might still end up “having a bad hair day”. 

But is there really anything to the idea that stress can cause hair loss?

Here’s what Mamamia had to say about it:

Yes, and no. In men, hair loss is more commonly a genetic factor. For women, hair loss can be genetic, but it’s also ruled by our hormones. Hormones are basically the effective but moody overlords of the female body.

The Mamamia article dives a little deeper into the causes of hair loss, particularly in women, with a nod to some of the underlying factors behind stress-related hair loss.

Key takeaways:

  • It’s not so much stress as “a sudden, intense or prolonged unrelenting period of stress, anxiety and/or pressure” that can cause female hair loss.
  • Stress-related hair loss doesn’t occur immediately; it usually takes 1-2 months for stress to show up as hair loss.

Stress can mess with your hormones, leading to hair loss 

Cortisol — often produced in higher levels during stressful times — displaces the female hormone progesterone. This can disrupt the growing phase of the hair cycle (called anagen) and precipitate the shedding or falling phase (called telogen). 

But hair loss in women can also indicate an underlying health condition, such as a deficiency in iron, iodine, or vitamins D or B. 

Long story short: If you’re concerned about your hair loss, consult a doctor. 

Want to know more? Read the Mamamia article here or learn more about hair loss in women.