How To Regain Hair Loss From Stress

Katelyn Hagerty

Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Published 03/29/2023

If you’re wondering how to regain hair loss from stress, you’ve come to the right place.

Is working stress getting the best of you? Or maybe you have some family stuff going on that’s been weighing on your brain. Whatever’s at the root of your stress, it can have a huge impact on your well-being — both mentally and physically.

Stress can lead to tension headaches, a pounding heart, gastrointestinal issues and even hair loss. Yup, you read that right. Stress has been linked to hair loss. Some good news? If you have stress-related hair loss, it can likely be reversed. 

Below, we’ll dive into how stress can lead to hair loss, plus how to regain hair loss from stress.

Why Does Stress Cause Hair Loss? 

Stressed because you’re rushing to a meeting? That’s not going to cause your hair to fall out. But living in a constant state of emotional stress might. Chronic stress levels can lead to a condition called telogen effluvium.

Physiological stress can also lead to telogen effluvium. This includes anything that puts stress on your body — like surgery, chronic illnesses (like autoimmune diseases) or a high fever. 

Telo-what? Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss that often presents as sudden thinning around the entire scalp.

To understand telogen effluvium, you need to have a working knowledge of the three stages of hair growth. First, there’s the growth phase (called the anagen phase). This is when hair strands push through the scalp.

After that, your hair enters the catagen phase. This is when hair stops growing and the hair follicle shrinks. Finally, there’s the telogen phase, when your hair falls out and the process starts over.

When telogen effluvium occurs, hair is forced into the telogen phase. As a result, hairs fall out without new hairs growing in to replace them.

One thing to know: The research around emotional stress and telogen effluvium has mostly been done on mice. To further confirm this connection, more research on humans is needed.  

Most people notice hair thinning a few months after a stressful event occurs. But the good news is that it’s usually not permanent.

In addition to telogen effluvium, some believe psychological stress can cause the onset of a condition called alopecia areata. However, there’s very little evidence to support this.

One small study of 16 people from over 20 years ago linked alopecia areata and stress. It found that those with chronic stress noticed that their alopecia areata was exacerbated. 

Alopecia areata is a type of hair loss where the body attacks its own hair follicles. Most often, it starts to affect people in their childhood or teen years. This type of hair loss is usually not permanent.

To more closely link this condition with emotional stress, new research with more people would need to be done.

Buy finasteride

more hair... there's a pill for that

3 Ways to Regain Hair Loss From Stress

While it is helpful to understand that stress-related hair loss is a real thing, the info you’re likely really craving is how to regain hair loss from stress. 

Different types of hair loss call for different solutions. With stress-related hair loss, there are actually a couple of things you can try.

You don’t need 20 ways to regain hair loss from stress, but having multiple options does help. After all, different people respond to different things.

Whether you’re dealing with excessive hair loss from chronic stress or noticing just a bit of shedding, here are some things that may help with hair regrowth.

Get Your Stress Levels Under Control 

Not to be Captain Obvious, but if you have stress-related hair loss, the first thing you need to do is get your levels of stress under control.

There are a number of ways you can try to lower severe stress. Here are a few things that have been shown to work: 

  • Get your sweat on. A 2014 study looked at the effects of exercise on 111 healthy men and women who did and didn’t report regular physical activity. Those who regularly worked out had a better response to acute stress. Ideally, you should be aiming for about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise.

  • Make time to meditate. A small study, which also happened to be done in 2014, found that 20 minutes of mindful meditation can lower stress and anxiety. If you aren't sure how to meditate, there are a number of online videos and mobile apps that can guide you.  

  • Talk it out. If stress is an emotional symptom that’s led to hair thinning, talking to a mental health professional could help. You can discuss anything that’s causing stress — financial insecurity, health conditions, relationship issues, you name it. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been found to be an effective form of talk therapy. With CBT, you’ll look at patterns that cause you stress, then work with your provider to change those things.

Will you join thousands of happy customers?

4.5 average rating

Before/after images shared by customers who have purchased varying products, including prescription based products. Prescription products require an online consultation with a healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate. These customers’ results have not been independently verified. Individual results will vary. Customers were given free product.

Try a Hair Loss Medication

Another effective treatment that may lead to healthy hair growth is minoxidil. This FDA-approved medication doesn’t require a prescription and comes in a liquid or foam solution.

The exact mechanism of minoxidil isn’t known. However, it’s thought to work by stimulating hair follicles to enter the growth phase. It may also encourage blood flow to the scalp, which allows more nutrients to get there.

Stick with Habits for Healthy Hair Growth

If you have stress-induced hair loss, it’s important not to make your hair loss even worse. While one of the above treatment options may reverse your hair loss, incorporating some healthy hair habits into your life can help ensure you don’t make it worse. 

Here are some habits that are good for your strands of hair:

  • Eat a balanced diet. Studies have shown that nutritional deficiencies (specifically not getting enough iron and zinc) aren’t so good for the health of your hair. The good news is that people who added more of these things to fill out their healthy diet saw an improvement in hair growth. Crab, oatmeal and nuts are just a few foods rich in zinc. Spinach, seafood and lentils are good if you need to boost your iron intake.

  • Choose hair products wisely. When considering what shampoo to use, look for one that contains ingredients known to promote healthy hair growth. For instance, one study suggested that saw palmetto can encourage hair growth in folks with androgenic alopecia. Hims has a thickening shampoo made with this ingredient. Also, be careful about using products that can cause damage. Styling products that claim to have long-lasting hold (like hair sprays and gels) may not be so great for your strands. They can cause breakage and damage.

  • Kick bad habits to the curb. Cigarettes are a big no-no for so many reasons. Aside from the obvious (ahem, cancer), researchers have identified a possible link between smoking and hair loss. Not only that, but cigarette smoke is a pollutant that damages your strands and even negatively impacts the DNA of your hair follicles.

Hair loss treatments, delivered

Most popular

Topical Finasteride

If a pill feels like an overwhelming way to treat male pattern hair loss, this spray with finasteride & minoxidil could be for you.

Minoxidil Solution

Generic for Rogaine®, this FDA-approved over-the-counter version of topical minoxidil is used for regrowth on the crown of the head.

Finasteride & Minoxidil

This is the FDA-approved dynamic duo. When used together, men saw better results in clinical trials compared to using either alone.

Oral Finasteride

If you’re looking for something effective but don’t want too many steps in your routine, this once-a-day pill could be right for you.

Minoxidil Foam

Clinically proven to regrow hair in 3-6 months, no pills required.

Dealing With Stress Hair Loss

There’s no doubt that stress sucks. It can leave you with a pit in your stomach and have many different physical effects, including temporary hair loss.

Physiological stress (such as living with an autoimmune disorder or undergoing surgery) can cause a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium, which means your strands enter the shedding phase sooner than they normally would.

There’s some evidence that emotional stress can also result in this type of hair loss. When it comes to how to regain hair loss from stress, there are a few things that may work. 

  • Lower your stress. One of the best ways to deal with stress-induced hair loss is to lower your stress. There’s evidence that meditation, regular exercise and talk therapy can all help do this.

  • Consider hair-loss medication. One hair-loss medication that may help is minoxidil, a topical treatment you can get without a prescription.

  • Practice healthy hair habits. If your hair is falling out because of stress, the last thing you want to do is make it worse through bad hair rituals. Eating a nutritious diet can help keep hair in check, as well as using a thickening shampoo and avoiding cigarettes. 

To learn more about ways to address hair loss, read our guide on how to prevent hair loss and our blog on figuring out what is causing your hair loss

When you are ready to address your hair loss, schedule a consultation with a healthcare professional to start figuring out what may help.

19 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Stress effects on the body. (2018, November 1). American Psychological Association. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/body
  2. Telogen Effluvium Hair Loss. (n.d.). American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://www.aocd.org/page/telogeneffluviumha
  3. Asghar, F. (2020, May 27). Telogen Effluvium: A Review of the Literature. NCBI. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7320655/
  4. Choi, S. (2021, March 31). Corticosterone inhibits GAS6 to govern hair follicle stem-cell quiescence. Nature. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03417-2
  5. Watteel, G. (n.d.). Stress and alopecia areata: a psychodermatologic study. PubMed. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9228223/
  6. Hair loss types: Alopecia areata overview. (n.d.). American Academy of Dermatology. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/types/alopecia
  7. Childs, E., & de Wit, H. (2014, May 1). Regular exercise is associated with emotional resilience to acute stress in healthy adults. NCBI. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4013452/
  8. How Much Exercise Do I Need? (2019, May 7). MedlinePlus. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://medlineplus.gov/howmuchexercisedoineed.html
  9. Zeidan, F., Martucci, K., Kraft, R., et al. (2013, May 21). Neural correlates of mindfulness meditation-related anxiety relief. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 751-759. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/scan/article/9/6/751/1664700
  10. What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? (n.d.). American Psychological Association. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral
  11. Ramos, M. (n.d.). Minoxidil - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf. NCBI. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/
  12. Finasteride. (2022, June 15). MedlinePlus. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a698016.html
  13. Combined treatment with oral finasteride and topical minoxidil in male androgenetic alopecia: a randomized and comparative study in Chinese patients. (2015, June 2). Wiley Online Library. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/dth.12246
  14. Katta, R. (2017, January 31). Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. NCBI. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/
  15. Zinc - Health Professional Fact Sheet. (2022, September 28). NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/#h3
  16. Iron - Consumer. (2022, April 5). NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-Consumer/#h3
  17. Comparative Effectiveness and Finasteride Vs Serenoa Repens in Male Androgenetic Alopecia: A Two-Year Study - A. Rossi, E. Mari, M. Scarnò, V. Garelli, C. Maxia, E. Scali, A. Iorio, M. Carlesimo, 2012. (n.d.). SAGE Journals. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/039463201202500435
  18. Hair Stying Without Damage. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/hair-care/styling
  19. Trüeb, R. M. (n.d.). Association between smoking and hair loss: another opportunity for health education against smoking? PubMed. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12673073/

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Kate Hagerty is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of healthcare experience. She has worked in critical care, community health, and as a retail health provider.

She received her undergraduate degree in nursing from the University of Delaware and her master's degree from Thomas Jefferson University. You can find Katelyn on Doximity for more information.

Read more