It’s often suggested that stress and hair loss are connected, but is there actually any truth to this claim? If you’re wondering what lies behind your thinning locks, keep reading. Here, we take a look at the science behind hair loss to help you get to the heart of the matter.
Most cases are genetic
The fact is, the majority of cases of hair loss are triggered by genetic factors. For instance, male-pattern baldness often starts when guys reach their late 20s or early 30s and by the age of 50, half of all men have this condition. It’s characterised by a thinning of tresses on the temples and the crown. Sometimes, it progresses to total baldness, but this is relatively rare. Male-pattern baldness is hereditary and it can be passed down through either the mother or father’s side of the family. People with the condition have a highly sensitive reaction to a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, which causes follicles to shrink.
The good news is, if you’re displaying the tell-tale signs of male-pattern baldness and you want to halt or reverse the changes, there are treatment options available. The most effective is a prescription-only medicine containing the active ingredient finasteride. It’s possible to get both branded and generic versions of finasteride in the UK from high street and online pharmacies. The treatment works by blocking the effect of dihydrotestosterone and it has been proven to be show positive results in nine in ten men who take it. However, it’s important to note that it can take over three months of continuous use before you notice an improvement, and if you stop taking it, your hair loss is likely to resume.
Sometimes, extreme stress can play a role
While the vast majority of cases of hair loss are genetic and are not linked to stress, a relatively small number do have a psychological trigger. The condition telogen effluvium is a form of alopecia that results in a thinning of hair all over the head. In some cases, this is brought on by intense emotional stress. So, if you recently experienced severe stress or anxiety and your hair is noticeably thinning, your mental wellbeing could be to blame. Telogen effluvium can also be caused by intense physical stress, illnesses, major changes to diet and certain medications. Fortunately, in most cases hair starts to regrow within around six months.
If you’re not sure, speak to a doctor
As long as you know the facts, you should be able to work out what’s causing your hair loss. However, if you’re unsure what lies behind your fading follicles or you’re worried it’s a symptom of an underlying health issue, you may benefit from booking an appointment with your doctor.