Stress is a common word in the modern world and is one that is often viewed negatively. Although stress can be positive in certain instances, it can definitely have negative effects on a person’s health and lifestyle when left unchecked. Hair loss is one of the side effects of too much stress, but how exactly can stress make hair fall out?

Hair Growth Cycle

To better understand how stress can cause hair loss, it’s important to know how hair grows. The follicles on a person’s body will go through a hair growth cycle that consists of three phases:
  • Anagen (Active Phase) – When follicles are in the Anagen phase, they are actively growing hair. Approximately 85% of follicles are in this phase at any given time, and they can remain in this state for two to six years.
  • Catagen (Transitional Phase) – About 3% of follicles will be in this phase. During this phase, growth stops and what is known as a “club hair” forms. This phase will typically last for two to three weeks,
  • Telogen (Resting Phase) – On the scalp, this phase will only last about 100 days, which is shorter than other areas on the body. Approximately 6 to 8% of follicles will be in this phase at any given time. This is the phase where we begin to see hair shed and fall out. We normally lose about 100 telogen hairs every day.

Conditions Linked to Stress and Hair Loss

With a basic understanding of the hair growth cycle, we can see that hair is constantly growing and falling out. In many cases, this cycle will continue through a lifetime as we age. There are many factors, though, that could alter or impair this growth cycle. Age, genetics, hormones, and stress can affect how effective the hair follicles are at hair growth. Three hair loss conditions are commonly linked to stress levels:

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen Effluvium is the condition that most directly causes the follicles to stop hair growth. This condition most often happens when there is some type of shock to a person’s system. These triggers can include:
  • Stress
  • Childbirth
  • Surgery
  • Acute or Chronic Illness
  • Accidents
When a person experiences these triggers, the body can force the follicles in the Anagen phase into the Telogen phase. Like hairs that enter the Telogen phase naturally, the ones that enter due to stress stop growing and eventually fall out.


Trichotillomania is a hair loss condition where individuals have an irresistible urge to pull hair from locations around the body. This condition heavily revolves around the individual’s mental state and removing hair, instead of a condition that causes the hair to fall out like Telogen Effluvium. The hair pulling can be triggered by anxiety, boredom, tension, or stress and is often done as a way for the individual to feel relief or gratification.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune disease that affects about 147 million people worldwide and results in hair loss. When someone has alopecia areata, their hair follicles are attacked by their white blood cells. This mistake by the immune system then causes the follicles to shrink and slow down until there is no hair growth. Though there is no definitive evidence of what causes this change in the immune system, scientists have linked genetics and extreme stress to the hair loss. No matter the condition, hair loss can lead to even more stress and anxiety in a person’s life. At West LA Hair, our Dr. Melamed relieves that stress by providing individualized treatments. West LA Hair offers advanced procedures to match men and women with the right treatment path for their hair restoration needs.