Stress Management, Well-being and Self-Care

How much are stress and hair loss related?

by James Porter May 07, 2017

Stress and hair loss are definitely related! Stress and the early onset of gray hair are linked also. Hans Selye, the Canadian Scientist who coined the term stress, once defined stress as premature aging.

The medical term for what you have is idiopathic alopecia areata. It’s when your hair falls out in clumps for no apparent reason. Often times, that reason which may not be apparent to doctors is plain as day to the person whose hair is falling out (like it is to you). This kind of “unexplained” hair loss is often caused by stress.

Pay close attention to what you said about how your eyelashes only fall out when you are “scared that they would fall out and think about them.” This is a classic case of what psychologists call “secondary stress.”Not only does your hair tend to fall out when you get stressed, it falls out when you get stressed about being stressed! That’s a secondary stress reaction.

A friend of mine started a new job working for someone I’d describe as a highly demanding boss. And he was particularly stressed too, as he had just started working for this same company that, at the time, was struggling to survive. He was suffering from Vertigo and couldn’t fly, and she had to drive him to all his speaking gigs, which sometimes involved driving him thousands of miles. Her hair started falling out in clumps. It was clear to both them, that this hair loss was due to stress.

Occasional episodes of stress aren’t going to make your hair fall out. Usually it’s chronic stress like working for a difficult boss, or going through a difficult break-up or dealing with a financial crisis that brings this about. (Or maybe even a combination of two or more things like this!)

You need to stop your secondary stress reaction first. In other words, you have to stop making yourself stressed by worrying about it. Next you have to identify the major chronic sources of stress in your life and see if you can flat out eliminate them. Working for a toxic boss? Change jobs. Living with an abusive boyfriend or husband? Move out. In a financial crisis? Get counseling for that.

Next see what coping methods you can adopt, like exercise, yoga, meditation or deep breathing. Learn about these methods at my website and follow up with me to let me know how it is going.


This question was originally answered on Click here to see more of his answers on Quora. Do you have a question for Jim? Email your question to with "Ask Jim" as the subject line.

James Porter
James Porter


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