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Hair Loss from Stress & Trauma

There are a variety of causes one might lose their hair, abruptly or more gradually, and in spots or patches or more throughout the scalp. I've written a bit about this previously, but maybe the most common reason we see hair loss in our practice, is that which results from a stressor, whether physical or emotional. This hair loss is called telogen effluvium.

Pregnancy is one of these causes, as is any illness, a high fever, malnutrition, severe infections, surgery and issues related to #hormones, sometimes caused by a thyroid imbalance. Medications can also cause this such as retinoids, anticoagulants, anticonvulsants, beta blockers, and antithyroid medications, as may stopping your birth control pill.

The trick here is because conventional medicine is very symptom-based and tends to just treat the complaint, the underlying cause is often ignored. Individuals may not have symptoms, either, besides their hair loss so this makes ignoring the real cause quite easy.

Individuals with telogen effluvium may have symptoms of an underlying condition, but often go without any additional symptoms beyond their hair loss. They may complain that they lose clumps of hair coming out in the shower or in their hairbrush. If you are noticing this, think back a few months - two to five months - before you noticed symptoms. Did you have a triggering event, maybe?

When we evaluate the scalp of those with telogen effluvium what we find is a pretty uniform amount of hair loss throughout the head. We might see some scaling or inflammation, and hair maybe growing in a bit uneven whether in length, fragility, shape, or hair distribution. Clinicians may want to get some labs to evaluate overall wellness, but also to rule out deficiency anemia, zinc deficiency, renal and liver disease, and #thyroiddisease.

Overall, this type of hair loss is self-limiting and resolves within about two to six months. Pregnant mommas often report significant hair loss but the difference here is that they grew thicker and longer hair during pregnancy because of their boost of blood supply. Once this blood volume returns to normal following pregnancy and these hairs fall out due to their normal turn over cycle, they aren't replaced with as much abundance, so it seems as if they are losing significant hair, and they are, but it is more a return to their normal. Ruling out hypothyroidism is helpful though, as the thyroid can become a bit inflamed following birth and may create additional hair loss.

If stress is significant though, this can be ongoing for even years. I know following my divorce, more so even when I was getting mentally and physically healthy, I was very focused on fixing up my home and working in my garden, so wasn't eating as much protein as I should have and my hair got really thin. Once I recognized this and fixed my diet, my hair filled back in normally. Stress can be significant enough even to cause a heart attack, so the advice to find more peace and relaxation in your life, to practice meditation and #yoga, is no joke. Our bodies shouldn't suffer such significant stress that it is quite literally harmed from it. Take time to evaluate yourself, your body, your emotions, your rights and needs. You are worth it.

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