Sudden hair loss – is it stress related?

sudden-hair-loss-and stressIf you are suffering from sudden hair loss – it may be that stress is the key.

It isn’t that common – the type of hair loss in women that most of us experience is gradual and results in an overall thinning of the hair.

Less common is the sudden catastrophic loss of hair as a response to severe stress.

Given the number of common sayings about hair falling out you would think that shedding hair in response to a stressful event happened all the time.  It is actually surprisingly rare.  Many of us deal with even severe stress without losing our hair over it.

Although it’s not that common generally – sudden hair loss is more likely in women than men.  Our hair seems to respond more severely to environmental, medical and physical shocks than male hair.  As a result your hair can fall out months after the traumatic event is experienced.

Sudden hair loss can happen to women at any age – unlike the more common types of female pattern hair loss – this one is ageless.

How can stress make your hair fall out?

The first thing to understand is that it may not happen immediately – hair may be shed quite a while after the stressful event Some women experience hair loss after a traumatic event such as the death of a family member or someone close or a frightening event in their lives. It can be difficult to pinpoint the cause since it is common for the hair shedding to occur several months after the event occurred.

The fact is throughout our lives we shed hair every day and hair goes through a cycle with a resting phase for regeneration and regrowth. Sudden trauma changes the normal balance in the body and can trigger hair follicles to enter the “resting” phase of the hair growth cycle prematurely – resulting in an increase in the amount of hair shed about 3 months after the event.

Sudden hair loss can also be caused by physical trauma to other parts of the body which cause the hair to enter the resting phase of its cycle – surgery, severe injury or chemotherapy – are all common causes.

Sudden hair loss is different to thinning hair

Hair loss caused by stress can result in hair being lost at an alarming rate – up to three to four thousand hairs per day compared to the normal hair growth cycle where we lose around 100 hairs a day.  When hair thins gradually it can be difficult to realize you may have a problem that needs treating.  Sudden hair loss is different.  You will be very aware of how much hair you are losing which may be accompanied by a feeling of itchiness in the scalp.

With this type of condition – hair doesn’t fall out evenly all over the head.  It can literally come out in clumps which can be very alarming.

Hair loss due to stress can be reversed

Alarming it may be but  it can be totally reversed for most women. So long as there is no ongoing distress as a result of the initial trauma – the body should be able to recover and the normal hair growth cycle resumed within about 6 months to a year.

One of the key things in this situation is to understand that your hair will grow back. Fearing the worst and living in a state of anxiety about your hair falling out – although understandable – will cause you more stress. Dealing with the causes of the trauma and its long term effect on you will help you move forward.

It may not always be possible to eliminate the underlying cause of sudden hair loss.  For chemotherapy patients for instance – the course of treatment has to be followed through.  But taking control in a situation where you feel you are powerless can help.

You can start by learning  how to make your hair grow faster and stronger than it would normally by following a hair conscious diet, taking nutritional supplements and applying a hair restoration product.  Styling your hair (or wearing a wig or scarf) in a way that disguises the problem will help you feel better too.   Looking after your nutrition and caring for your hair will also make sure you have a very healthy head of hair when it does grow back.

Come to terms with the timescales for hair regrowth – up to 12 months after the end of the traumatic event whether physical or mental.  Be confident your body will restore what you’ve lost in most cases.

Accepting that sudden hair loss is a short term reaction to a stressful event and being positive about regaining a full head of healthy hair is the best thing you can do.

About Eileen

I am the publisher of Simply Anti Aging and a web author researching and writing on all aspects of anti aging. I'd love you to connect with me on


  1. aliaa dawoud says:

    i think that stress has a lot to do with hair loss!! it’s true because I am going through this stage now, but after I read this article about hair loss and how I am supposed to not pay attention much on how much hair I am loosing a day did help me to go through my days now without more stress!! i also thank god after reading this that a sudden hair loss is much way better than me loosing hair gradually and having to deal with thinning hair that needs to be treated!! it’s too bad that it will take about six months to a year to get back to normal, but i guess i just have to deal with it and be happy =) thanks for your help!! i appreciate it =)

    • Aliaa – I’m glad the article helped. Keeping stress out of your life is one of the best things you can do for sudden hair loss like this but make sure you do everything you can to eat well at this time so your hair gets the best chance possible to get back to normal growth and health. Thanks for your comments.

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