The Impact of Worry on Hair Loss

The Detroit Free Press recently published an article reporting that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was experiencing significant hair loss as a result of the extreme stress she has endured over the past several months. Rallying interest in the issue, the article seeks out the wisdom of a prominent dermatologist to explain the links between stress and the loss of hair in women. While such events can occur in men, as well, reported instances of stress-related hair loss are more often brought to the fore by females.

The dermatologist notes that hair follicles in a normal, “growing” state can become shocked during highly stressful events, such as a death in the family or giving birth, causing the hair to fall out around three months later. In fact, the dermatologist notes that clients who report a sudden loss of a significant amount of hair are best addressed with the question as to what was happening in their life three months previous. While in most cases the hair is able to simply grow back, the personal care and beauty concern involved in thinning hair may lead more women to take on a greater responsibility to reduce stress in their lives.

As part of this effort, women may make a greater effort to seek the professional services afforded through psychotherapy, particularly during and after stressful events, whether it’s a new step in life or the ending of another, or even the resignation of a major political office. While personal concern over mental health and well-being on a day to day basis is of course likely to win more importance to women than cosmetic concerns, the benefit of a great and natural head of hair may nevertheless be one of therapy’s more intriguing and attention-getting benefits.

© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Ambrose

    Ambrose

    August 7th, 2009 at 10:44 AM

    i’m not a woman, but I like to boast that my bald head is a result of my high testosterone levels ;)
    Stress, nah, not for me. Could female hair loss be a result of high testosterone levels??

  • Elizabeth R.

    Elizabeth R.

    August 9th, 2009 at 4:17 PM

    I can vouch for this. My hair thinned when I was going through a bad bout of depression. It has taken years to recover because mine was a shoulder length style.

  • soldy

    soldy

    August 9th, 2009 at 4:30 PM

    I went to high school with a girl that had alopecia. I never knew until we were grown ups that she always wore a wig. She had two and one was a bit shorter than the other. She changed them around every few months to make it appear that she’d had a haircut. Underneath she was completely bald.

  • Victoria L.

    Victoria L.

    August 9th, 2009 at 8:04 PM

    Don’t assume it is worry and only worry that’s causing it. Be sure to get checked out by a doctor to be on the safe side.

  • carol

    carol

    August 10th, 2009 at 5:04 PM

    stress can really wreack havoc on the body in so many different ways. that is why i never believe it when i see items that try to convince you that some stress in your life can be a good thing.

  • Harry

    Harry

    August 12th, 2009 at 9:42 AM

    Do you think that maybe it is a little irresponsible to blame hair loss on stress? I mean, if that were the case then more of us guys who have suffered from this would have trying to go worry free for a long time now. Stress I am sure can play a large part but there are still those of us who need only to look to our dads to see what kind of hair fate awaits us.

  • HarrietR

    HarrietR

    August 12th, 2009 at 10:47 AM

    Harry, the article is talking mainly about hair loss in females not males. Male pattern baldness isn’t the same thing. You’ve made it sound like the article said all hair loss is caused by stress. It didn’t. In fact the last paragraph specifically states “Not all hair loss is stress- or age-related.”

    So what’s your beef about that article being irresponsible? Hair loss due to stress in men and women is fact, not an opinion. Blame doesn’t come into it.

  • Lacey

    Lacey

    August 16th, 2009 at 9:10 PM

    Women see their hair as their crowning glory. Think about how many millions we spend annually compared to men on conditioning and spritzing and treatments a man’s never heard of. We know how sexy men find long hair and the femininity they attach to that. Hair loss and baldness in women isn’t accepted in the way that male baldness is, by either gender.

  • Dr. Notary

    Dr. Notary

    August 16th, 2009 at 9:26 PM

    I’m mildly surprised trichotillomania wasn’t discussed. Hair loss is a direct result of that compulsion. The good news is individuals can also overcome the urge to pull it out. Both cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)have been deemed effective strategies.

  • Shannon

    Shannon

    August 17th, 2009 at 8:40 AM

    Hair loss for women has to be so much more traumatic than it is for men. Lacey is right- it is typically our crowning glory. Think about the last time you had a really bad haircut and how you just counted the weeks and months it took to grow back. Now think how sad it would be if it never came back at all. I know that some might find that trivial but many women base how they think about themselves in large part upon their looks, and for many of us that gets all tied up in what our hair looks like as well. I can only imagine how Sarah Palin must feel dealing with this hair loss especially as she is such a public figure these days.

  • zulvera

    zulvera

    August 30th, 2009 at 10:00 PM

    Provillus For Women is a two part hair restoration system for women who suffer from alopecia, or female pattern baldness.

  • sher

    sher

    January 26th, 2010 at 3:05 AM

    I believe that worrying or stress causes hair loss problem. Nice blog thanks for sharing.

  • Naggs

    Naggs

    May 19th, 2010 at 8:14 AM

    I first started balding 2 years ago when I was having disastrous relationship problems.Till now, the baldness at crown still remains though the intensity of the hair-fall is less.

    And yes,I agree- hair loss for women especially can be a pain,from my experience.

  • Marie

    Marie

    February 2nd, 2011 at 9:28 AM

    my hair fell out in alarming clumps just after my daughter was born. My hair has always been thick & lush. So to say i was upset is an understatement!! so after searching around the internet, I decided on vitamins. im pleased to say that after 5 months my hair is almost back to its former glory!!!
    Marie

  • Trent

    Trent

    March 2nd, 2011 at 6:38 AM

    Hair Loss Shampoo : Regenepure DR with ketoconazole I use instead of worrying
    That and rogaine foam are the winners!

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