There are many symptoms of anxiety that seem to become self-fulfilling. A common example is hair loss. It often seems that those that live in constant fear about losing their hair may actually contribute to their own hair loss, by giving themselves so much stress and anxiety that their hair may actually fall out.
Anxiety and hair loss have a complex relationship, and it's probably not what you think. But anxiety can, in some cases, cause hair loss to occur, and in other cases it can make hair loss itself more difficult to control.
Is Your Hair Loss From Anxiety?
Hair loss is still hair loss. If you have hair loss, you'll need to see a doctor or a hair specialist if you want to control it. But anxiety can lead to conditions that cause hair loss, and certainly make living with hair loss far more stressful.
Take my anxiety test to learn more about the severity of your anxiety, how it compares to others, and what treatment works best for you.
Causes of Anxiety Hair Loss
Hair loss is never the only symptom of anxiety, and it is very rare for hair loss to occur if your anxiety isn't severe. Make sure that you take my free 7 minute anxiety test before reading onward to compare your anxiety to others and get a better understanding of its cause.
The key issue between anxiety and hair loss is stress. Anxiety is, in many ways, long term and persistent stress. While technically these are two separate conditions and long term stress on its own can lead to many of the same symptoms, the reality is that anyone dealing with anxiety is putting themselves under severe mental and physical stress all the time.
Stress can cause many conditions that lead to hair loss. These include:
- Alopecia Areata - Sudden loss of large clumps of hair in areas around your scalp.
- Telogen Effluvium - This is a condition where more hairs than normal prepare to fall out.
- Trichotillomania - This is a habitual condition caused by stress and anxiety where the person pulls out hairs without realizing it.
It's highly likely that those with mild hair loss caused by anxiety are suffering from either telogen effluvium, or simply stress weakened hair. But the other two are also a concern and affect a smaller percentage of the anxiety population.
Telogen effluvium occurs when your body tells more hairs to stop growing than usual. Hairs have a grown cycle of two years before stopping and falling out two months later. If your body "tells" more hairs than normal to stop growing, two months later more hairs will fall out.
All of these may be caused by anxiety.
Not All Hair Loss is Anxiety Related
It's also important to note that not all hair loss is anxiety related, but the two may occur at a similar period of time. Many people that start to suffer from hair loss are at an age with many other stresses, like kids, work, and finances. Because they happen at the same age they may seem related, but are technically different conditions.
Furthermore, some people start to feel anxiety**_ because_** they're experiencing hair loss. In a way, hair loss is their anxiety trigger, and they experience greater levels of anxiety because they are so worried about losing their hair.
Finally, sometimes those with anxiety simply see more hair loss where it doesn't exist, because of their fears. It's not uncommon for hair to look exactly the same (or have slightly more fall out due to natural aging) but anxiety plays tricks with the mind to make it seem or feel like more fell out than usual.
While anxiety can absolutely cause hair to fall out - in some cases in very large clumps - anxiety is not always the problem. Sometimes the problem is simply that your anxiety causes you to think more and care more about your hair than necessary, giving the impression that the two are related.
Reduce Anxiety and the Hair May Come Back
The good news for anxiety sufferers is that not all anxiety related hair loss is permanent. If stress and anxiety are what caused your hair loss, then reducing that anxiety can help your hair come back.
Remember - not all hair comes back after it's lost regardless of the cause, and your hair loss may be natural and not caused by anxiety at all. No matter what, you need to make sure that you are addressing your anxiety directly in order to both reduce the likelihood of anxiety related hair loss and reduce the anxiety you experience because of your lost hair.
I've worked with hundreds of people suffering from anxiety hair loss in the past. You should start at my free anxiety test. It will compare the severity of your symptoms to others with anxiety and provide you with recommended treatments for curing your anxiety forever.
Hunt, Nigel, and Sue McHale. The psychological impact of alopecia. Bmj 331.7522 (2005): 951-953.
Girman, C. J., et al. Effects of self-perceived hair loss in a community sample of men. Dermatology 197.3 (1998): 223-229.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.