Excess and chronic stress can have negative effects on the entire body -- including your hair and even lead to hair loss. A Harvard study on animals published in the journal Nature discovered stress hormones can keep hair follicle stem cells in an “extended resting phase” and can cause new hair growth to be put on hold.
“During the resting phase, the stem cells are quiescent and hairs shed more easily. Hair loss can occur if the hairs shed and the stem cells remain quiescent without regenerating new tissue,” the study notes.
Nature acknowledges further studies are needed to better understand how this might be related to hair loss in humans, but warns, "Stressed humans, watch out... A stress hormone has been found to signal through skin cells to repress the activation of hair follicle stem cells in mice. When this signaling is blocked, hair growth is stimulated."
The study found a molecule (GAS6) -- which can activate the hair follicle stem cells -- was inhibited by chronic stress hormones. The study theorizes their findings could possibly lead to better hair loss treatments for humans.
"Modern life for humans is inevitably stressful. But perhaps, one day, it will prove possible to combat the negative impact of chronic stress on our hair, at least — by adding some GAS6," the study notes.
- Maintaining a healthy social support network
- Engaging in regular physical exercise
- Getting an adequate amount of sleep each night
- Working with a licensed psychologist to identify the challenges and stressors affecting you
If you are dealing with hair loss -- which 50 percent of women experience at some point in their life -- there are lots of things you can do to help maintain the health of the hair follicle and possibly regrow hair. The Doctors share our favorite hair loss popular treatments, here!