The Stress Factor, Hair Loss Edition
Sep 17, 2018 12:00AM
● By Brian Saucedo
By Kelsey Casselbury
For 99 percent of men with a receding hairline, it’s impossible to stem the natural process of balding. It’s a genetic thing, and all the pills, potions and measures in the world won’t make a difference. However, that one percent (particularly millennials) can do something about balding, and that may include reducing stress.
Recent research out of China found that a higher number of men in their 20s—i.e. Millennials—are experiencing hair loss or thinning hair faster than generations before them. Experts theorize that stress plays a significant role in the phenomenon, particularly because the American Psychological Association found that Millennials report more stress than any other generation.
How Stress Affects Hair
The life of each strand of hair has four phases: First, it grows (the anagen phase), and then it has a short few days where the follicle shrinks a little bit (the catagen phase). Next, the hair is stable (the telogen phase), and finally, hair falls out (the exogen phase). Often without you even realizing, anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs enter the exogen phase every day, which result in you shedding them from your head. However, too much stress causes your hair’s life cycle to speed up, so it spends less time in the telogen phase and enters the exogen phase more quickly.
Additional Hair-Loss Factors
It’s not just stress that’s causing Millennials to lose their hair more quickly. This generation is also more likely to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, which can have an effect on the hair’s life cycle. These diets are often (but not always) lower in protein, zinc and vitamin D, which can affect hair growth.
Millennials are also often in the habit of undergoing regular hair treatments, which can lead to both loss and thinning locks. These treatments—bleaching, dying, hair extensions and more—are going to wreak havoc on healthy hair, causing it to shed or turn thin and brittle.
Keep an Eye on It
If you notice significant hair loss at a young age or you lose hair unexpectedly, talk to the doctor. Hair loss can be a symptom of several conditions. While you’re at it, take measures to cut back on your stress levels—hair loss is one of the more minor effects of too much stress in your life; too much stress can also lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and chronic pain.