There are many different reasons why men and women may lose their hair. Some of these are due to genetic programming, so there is very little we can do about this. Others are linked with lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise, while some can be due to another underlying medical condition, such as problem with the thyroid gland. There are however, environmental factors that many people don’t realise can contribute to hair loss. One of these factors is stress.

One of the most stressful things that adults can experience is the breakdown of a relationship. This can be unnerving, unsettling and a time which is full of uncertainty. It can also play havoc with our body’s delicate equilibrium.

Hair loss: a visible sign of stress

Most people don’t realise that if they are under a lot of emotional stress or pressure, this can result in hair loss. One of the reasons that hair loss can be linked to stress is the body’s reaction to stress, and how it deals with it. Under stressful situations, our bodies produce more of the hormone ‘androgen’ which, if produced in excess quantities, can have a negative effect on the hair follicles.

Our hair can also be affected by lack of sleep, which is also commonly linked to stress. It is well known that lack of sleep can contribute to the overall feeling of stress and anxiety, and stress can hinder hair growth. This means that lack of sleep can be a factor directly connected with hair loss.

Hair loss linked to stress is not common, but it does happen, even to the rich and famous. One of the most well-known cases of celebrity hair loss is the plight of Gail Porter, who lost all of her hair in her mid-30s. The reason for this was found to be stress, linked to the breakdown of her marriage.

Problem – symptom – more problems – more symptoms

So, stress can sometimes result in hair loss, and undoubtedly suffering from any form of unexpected hair loss is stressful. It means that stress is a cyclical problem for hair loss suffers, and until the cause of the stress can be put to bed, the hair loss issues may continue.

How to reduce stresses

One of the best ways to try and alleviate stress is to exercise. Regular exercise that increases your heart rate will increase your physical and emotional well-being, which should play an active role in reducing stress levels. It will also help increase you overall energy levels.

You could also consider making some subtle changes to your food intake, as there are vitamins and nutrients that have been linked with maintaining healthy hair. Typically, appetite is affected at time of severe stress, and you may not feel that you fancy your usual favourites, but be careful not to let your body suffer even further as a result of the stress you’re experiencing.

Staple food such as chicken and hen’s eggs contain good quality proteins that help maintain strong and healthy hair. Omega-3 is also linked with good hair health, and this is found in abundance in oily fish like salmon, mackerel, herring and trout.

If you’re not getting enough iron through your normal diet, this can contribute to hair loss problems, so eating red meat such as beef, leafy greens like kale or spinach and treats such as dark chocolate, can help ensure you’re getting enough iron in your diet. Iron is quite a tricky mineral for the body to absorb; so many people also favour taking iron supplements which are available from most supermarkets or chemists.