Telogen Effluvium (Stress-Related Hair Loss)

Tobermory

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Yes, sadly, it’s a real thing. Does anyone else have experience with this issue?

My hair is fine (as in not coarse), but I’ve always had plenty of it. Not any more. I noticed in September that I was losing a LOT of hair every time I washed it. And it has continued to come out. You can’t see my scalp yet (if you saw me, you wouldn’t notice at this point), but it’s a matter of time. So demoralizing.

No, it’s not age-related hair loss. People in my family don’t really lose much hair as they age, even the men. My brother, who is 72, could spare enough hair to cover the heads of two other men. My mom, who lived to be 95, had thick, gorgeous hair, the envy of the other women in assisted living. :) And it’s not a problem with my thyroid; the doctor checked.

So stress. According to everything I’ve read, you should get plenty of exercise (I do) and eat well (I do—lots of fruit and veggies, and I don’t eat a lot). My doctor suggested meditation which I’ve tried with limited success. My mind is like a cat with the zoomies.

It’s supposed to be temporary, not lasting much more than six months, and the hair grows back. It just seems like I’m at about that length of time, and it’s still falling out and seems to be increasing. And that, of course, increases my stress!

Anyone else have experience with this problem? It’s apparently not uncommon. I’m getting ready to buy a stocking cap or some bandannas!
 

lavishsqualor

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I have a really good friend who suffers from Androgenetic Alopecia. She'd trade places with you in a heartbeat given that your condition is temporary. She's in her forties and has made excellent use of clip-ins. When she's got them in you'd never know she had Alopecia or that she was wearing fake hair. Would they work for you or would they exacerbate your hair loss?

I know this sounds ridiculously trite and simple, but have you managed to eliminate or at least lessen your stressor?
 
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Tobermory

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I have a really good friend who suffers from Androgenetic Alopecia. She'd trade places with you in a heartbeat given that your condition is temporary. She's in her forties and has made excellent use of clip-ins. When she's got them in you'd never know she had Alopecia or that she was wearing fake hair. Would they work for you or would they exacerbate your hair loss?

I know this sounds ridiculously trite and simple, but have you managed to eliminate or at least lessen your stressor?
I hope it’s temporary. To be honest, once my doctor determined it wasn’t thyroid related, she lost interest. I’m the one who researched and suggested that it might be telogen effluvium, and she didn’t disagree.

Clip-ins are certainly a possibility in the future if this continues, although it might stress the poor thin hair that’s left.

Not trite or simplistic, but I’m not sure what the stressor is! COVID isolation? Could be, I guess, but I’m an introvert and not much has changed for me. And I don’t spend any time thinking or worrying about possibly getting the virus. Politics? Possibly. I stopped reading the news before the election because it was enraging me, but I started up again after Election Day, which I probably should have dialed back. Perhaps that will get better now. :)

We had to suddenly evacuate with the cats in September because of a wildfire. That was definitely stressful, but we returned safely three days later with no damage to our home. Still, TE can be caused by a sudden stressful or traumatic event, but it seems that the hair loss doesn’t start immediately but several weeks or months after. This started sooner.

I do feel anxiety about the least little thing I have to do now. Make cat food. Go to the store. Call someone on the phone. Go to the dentist. Stupid things that are part of everyday life. I have no idea why, but it’s just started this past year. It’s very annoying, but I don’t know how to control it! I’ve never been a nervous or anxious person. Grr.

I really should discipline myself and try meditation again. I tend to be impatient, and I kept waiting for it to be over!
 

Whenallhellbreakslose

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I have been around people battling hair loss. I have a friend who is alway stressed out. When she got tested her Cortisol, Dhea Sulfate, and free testosterone was high. She was taking Androgens like Ashwaghada and thought they calmed her down a bit, but was upset at the test results. She tried to go the natural route with Saw Palmetto (bring down the testosterone) she also was taken stuff like Bamboo Extract (has lots of silca for hair growth, but not good for those with Thyroid issues), Rosemary/Jojoba oil topically (which helped a bit). She also took Collagan/Biotin daily. These things helped, but she is going back to her Dr. And see what medication should she be put on. I had another friend have hair loss from menopause which is common. She is currently on the prescription drug Spironolactone and her hair is growing back.

I wish I had more to say, but that is all I know about their conditions. I would see and Endocrinologist to find out why this is happening, and find the right course of action/medication to be on. You may have to alter your diet and either cut out or reduce caffeine and sugar. We are living in very stressful times and it does take it's toll on us. Hang in there. I attached an healthline Article on high cortisol that I hope you find helpfully. Have a good night. 🙂
 

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I have had periods of shedding every summer since DS was born. I thought maybe it was my age and hormonal because a friend of mine swears women start perimenopausal sypmptoms much earlier than doctor's recognize; but my OBGYN said it shouldn't be hormonal or an age thing for me. So I asked my new primary care doctor about it (all my bloodwork is good too) and he said stress can be a trigger and people who experience stress hair loss typically have it 6 months AFTER the stressful period. But since it's so long after the event you don't necessarily connect the dots. So 6 months before my shedding is...hohoho...Merry Christmas...
:rolleyes3:
I do think I got on some kind of shedding cycle because it coincides with when my hair started shedding after DS was born. And that can be crazy because you shed so little during pregnancy. I've always been told I have my Dad's hair because it was so thick. His stands up because it's so thick. But it also explains why I'm looking like Chewbaca when I don't dry it straight right now. ;)

I have started a hair, skin and nails vitamin; because it can't hurt right? I do take Vitamin D and have had low iron in the past. But I don't know that those have any connection to hair growth and shedding. My nails do grow fast. I'm careful about hair products and styling. I drink water... We still think it could just be a cycle my body got on; but if stress adds to it, stressing about stress won't help right? :crazy: Plus I can tell the difference after the new hairs grow in. I would ask my stylist about it but I haven't seen her in almost a full year now. She's in her 60s and I've found the stylists actually seem to have the most knowledge about this stuff.
 

Caspers Human

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Cats shed their hair when they get stressed. Why not humans?

Every time we take Casper to the vet he seems to shed enough hair to make another whole cat!
After we go home and he's had a chance to calm down, he stops shedding.

Same goes for people. If we can relieve stress and calm down, the problem will go away on its own.

Easier said than done... I know. :(
 

Jem

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I'm currently in my second year suffering from Chronic Telogen Effluvium. Unfortunately my stress and trauma was more of a long term thing and many other events continued to add to it. Hopefully you will not reach the chronic stage but I will tell you that even over 2 years in, I still have hair and enough that most don't really know I'm losing it. My hair type helps though as it's super curly so that alone adds a lot of volume.
If you would like to ask me anything please do so....I've done a lot of research on this and have lots of info but I don't know where to start regarding what you would like to talk about.

Oh and just to add...the "Chronic" part doesn't mean permanent...just that you go into a bit of a cycle that can last several years...but it's NOT permanent.
 
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Tobermory

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Thanks for the article link and the other info about potential natural options, Whenallhellbreakslose Whenallhellbreakslose ! I know it’s not menopause because that’s many miles in the rear view mirror for me! Thankfully. :)
Plus I can tell the difference after the new hairs grow in.
I can, too. I’m losing more than I’m gaining, but I have these weird hairs with some wave to them. I thought about asking a stylist, but I haven’t been to a salon since last March...and probably won’t be going any time soon. I do think I remember reading something about taking certain vitamins.

I'm currently in my second year suffering from Chronic Telogen Effluvium. Unfortunately my stress and trauma was more of a long term thing and many other events continued to add to it. Hopefully you will not reach the chronic stage but I will tell you that even over 2 years in, I still have hair and enough that most don't really know I'm losing it. My hair type helps though as it's super curly so that alone adds a lot of volume.
If you would like to ask me anything please do so....I've done a lot of research on this and have lots of info but I don't know where to start regarding what you would like to talk about.

Oh and just to add...the "Chronic" part doesn't mean permanent...just that you go into a bit of a cycle that can last several years...but it's NOT permanent.
Chronic. Oh, boy. That’s tough, Do you meditate? Or take any certain vitamins or herbs? I’ve done some reading about TE but if you have websites you’d recommend, I’d be very interested.

Your mentioning that your hair is curly has reminded me of a friend whose hair has thinned because of a thyroid condition. And her hair is also very curly so it’s not that noticeable. My hair is as straight as a ruler, although some of the newest hair is wavy which is kind of interesting.
 

Jem

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Chronic. Oh, boy. That’s tough, Do you meditate? Or take any certain vitamins or herbs? I’ve done some reading about TE but if you have websites you’d recommend, I’d be very interested.
I can't meditate. It's just something that I've never been able to get a handle on. I've started doing breathing exercises and corrective postural exercises, which requires some "thoughtful presence" and concentration. But to just sit there and meditate just doesn't work for me....I need to DO something.
I also....when I remember :paperbag: , take iron (I am anemic - which can contribute to hair loss), vitamin D (immune function), a B-complex (can also contribute to hair loss if low) and magnesium (helps with muscles and stress). I've been thinking about taking Ashwagandha, which is a natural supplement said to help with stress/anxiety and coping/adapting, but I just feel like if stress is the kicker in all this I really need to work thru my issues and not just take a bunch of stuff...I don't want to be dependent on supplements to "fix" me, or waste money on things that don't do much.

I'll have to get back to you on the sites I used....I'll have to try and find them again.

We had to suddenly evacuate with the cats in September because of a wildfire. That was definitely stressful, but we returned safely three days later with no damage to our home. Still, TE can be caused by a sudden stressful or traumatic event, but it seems that the hair loss doesn’t start immediately but several weeks or months after. This started sooner.
Not a psych doc, but I'm sure the stress and anxiety of the unknown before you actually had to evacuate could have started this. Those fires...well, that whole situation really, looked scary...I'm sorry you had to go thru that.


I do feel anxiety about the least little thing I have to do now. Make cat food. Go to the store. Call someone on the phone. Go to the dentist. Stupid things that are part of everyday life. I have no idea why, but it’s just started this past year. It’s very annoying, but I don’t know how to control it! I’ve never been a nervous or anxious person. Grr.
And again....not a psych doc, but you sound like you have more of a chronic anxiety issue now. Perhaps it was always there but you were better equipped a coping before your traumatic experience, now it's all kinda simmering at the surface....you're still in flight or fight mode. That's probably why you're still losing your hair. The trauma is done and over with, but your brain is still "scared". That and the fact that your stressed about losing your hair. It's a vicious cycle!

It’s supposed to be temporary, not lasting much more than six months, and the hair grows back. It just seems like I’m at about that length of time, and it’s still falling out and seems to be increasing. And that, of course, increases my stress!
It is temporary....always remember that.
And please don't take this the wrong way, but the best piece of advice that I got was basically.
So you're losing your hair?...GET OVER IT!
In the beginning, I would literally cry as I was counting every hair that I inevitably pulled out as I washed my hair or tried to style it....And yes I counted my hairs lost, because I wanted accurate information for when I was going thru a "loss phase". Some days it was over 5/600 hairs a day. I kept my hair pulled in a little bun, wore a bandana to cover my increasingly balding hair line....it was a sad state of affairs, and I gave myself anxiety attacks just thinking about going bald and if this would ever end.
What changed was telling myself that this is temporary. Studies show that most don't lose enough that they end up bald or that the average Joe even notices. Of course I notice, because I know that I couldn't see my scalp like I do now, I know my hair line was fuller than it is now....But as they say....this too shall pass.....yeah yeah...corny!:rolleyes2:
I found that when I finally accepted that I'm losing my hair and that it WILL stop, it has helped me tremendously with my overall stress and anxiety. And now? My loss periods are shorter, I don't lose as much in a single day, my regrowth is stronger and I have more of it. You can't force it, and it honestly doesn't matter what vitamins or supplements you take, it doesn't matter what hair products you use....if you are still in a state of stress/anxiety. Of course they will help...but stress was the trigger...I just hate the thought of anyone spending oodles on money on a bunch of stuff that really won't do that much.
I know you don't know what exactly is causing your ongoing anxiety, but it very well may be the fact that you're losing your hair...which is why "getting over it" is one the the most important things you can do for yourself.
I know it sounds dismissive, and that is not my intent. I do know first hand how awful it is, I know how difficult it is to move past the fear....but like I said that is the ONE sure thing that has helped me start the process of getting myself back on track.
You just have to let your hair cycle do it's thing.....
The average is six months or so, but honestly those timelines apply to (IMO) a small percentage of people considering all the information and research I've done. Keep in mind that what you see happening on your head today, is a result of the past. What you do today will not stop the cycle you are currently in, it has to run it's course, it can only help what might happen in your next hair cycle.

I'll come back with links to the information I've read when I find them.
 
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Tobermory

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Thank you so much, Jem Jem ... for the links and for the guidance above. Wonderful advice, and I'll come back and read it again periodically to shore up my confidence. And you're right. It's "suck it up, Tobermory" time. It's not a terminal disease. It's not painful. It's just hair, and it's just vanity.

I haven't had much luck with meditation for the same reasons as you. But I do try to sit quietly with my eyes closed and listen to the ocean selection on the myNoise app. I picture myself on the Oregon coast on a sunny day, sitting on a rock and watching small waves gently roll onto the beach. There's also a rain selection that's great for falling asleep. Soothing. There's a timer so you can set it to fade out gently after a set period of time.

I take a plant-based calcium that also has Vit. D3, K2 and magnesium (my doctor's recommendation), glucosamine/chondroitin (also doctor's rec), and fish oil and that's it. I'll do some more reading to see if there's some evidence that other vitamins are helpful. I just had blood work so I don't have any deficiencies.
 

Jem

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I haven't had much luck with meditation for the same reasons as you.
Perhaps incorporating specific breathing exercises and muscle movements like I do would also help you. It's something to do and focus on.
A simple exercise would be something like "wall angels". (You can even do them lying down) They help with chronic back and neck pain and improve overall posture, it's not strenuous but you do need to focus, and if you're anything like me, it won't feel like your wasting time.
How to do Wall Angels: Techniques, Benefits, Variations
 

Jem

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Also, If you feel like you need to do something about the hair loss, there are some hair healthy things that can only help the process.

As much as washing your hair may seem daunting due to the increased amount of fall out (which is normal), some people with hair loss will avoid properly washing their hair and scalp. But it is still important to wash your hair and although gently, thoroughly massage your scalp. It can be relaxing and it helps bring circulation to the hair follicles. You also don't want stuff to accumulate in the follicles which would lead to other not so great things...including perhaps...more fall out. Having said this...I'm not sure how often you wash your hair, but sometimes daily washing can be bad if it dries it out too much. I only wash my hair once a week (sounds gross to some but I have very dry hair), but I still gently massage my scalp while in the shower, while I condition my ends.

Change things up and start using a T-shirt to dry your hair. It's much less damaging.

You could also switch to a silk or satin pillowcase...again, less pulling and damaging to the hair while sleeping.

Try your best to limit damaging and stressful hair styling techniques and styles. (I also have issues with traction allopecia due to having to keep my hair pulled back for work, but I have found some new hairstyles that are more gentle on my scalp and hair that also doesn't drive me crazy and keeps my hair out of my face.

There are several DIY hair masks and nourishing treatments you can do as well. The ones I do are heavy on the moisturizing due to my hair type but considering you have fine straight hair, you'd probably have to look up your own recipes because the ones I use would probably make your hair very limp and "blech"...for lack of better word.

I figure I should at least make what hair I have left to be as healthy as possible, and when the regrowth really takes shape, my hair will be more glorious than before!
 

Caspers Human

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I can't meditate. It's just something that I've never been able to get a handle on. I've started doing breathing exercises and corrective postural exercises, which requires some "thoughtful presence" and concentration. But to just sit there and meditate just doesn't work for me....I need to DO something
The secret to meditating is trying not to think about meditating.

Just go for a walk in the woods or some place. Don't try to do anything. Just go out and be quiet. Don't talk to anybody. No phone. No camera. Just your good, old self.

If you start to think about meditating... YOU JUST LOST THE GAME! ;) ;) ;)
 
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Tobermory

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Also, If you feel like you need to do something about the hair loss, there are some hair healthy things that can only help the process.

As much as washing your hair may seem daunting due to the increased amount of fall out (which is normal), some people with hair loss will avoid properly washing their hair and scalp. But it is still important to wash your hair and although gently, thoroughly massage your scalp. It can be relaxing and it helps bring circulation to the hair follicles. You also don't want stuff to accumulate in the follicles which would lead to other not so great things...including perhaps...more fall out. Having said this...I'm not sure how often you wash your hair, but sometimes daily washing can be bad if it dries it out too much. I only wash my hair once a week (sounds gross to some but I have very dry hair), but I still gently massage my scalp while in the shower, while I condition my ends.

Change things up and start using a T-shirt to dry your hair. It's much less damaging.

You could also switch to a silk or satin pillowcase...again, less pulling and damaging to the hair while sleeping.

Try your best to limit damaging and stressful hair styling techniques and styles. (I also have issues with traction allopecia due to having to keep my hair pulled back for work, but I have found some new hairstyles that are more gentle on my scalp and hair that also doesn't drive me crazy and keeps my hair out of my face.

There are several DIY hair masks and nourishing treatments you can do as well. The ones I do are heavy on the moisturizing due to my hair type but considering you have fine straight hair, you'd probably have to look up your own recipes because the ones I use would probably make your hair very limp and "blech"...for lack of better word.

I figure I should at least make what hair I have left to be as healthy as possible, and when the regrowth really takes shape, my hair will be more glorious than before!
I washed my hair every day for years...until about two months ago. I realized that I didn’t need to wash it that often because I’m no longer working so I don’t need to look perfectly “coiffed.” :) Also, I’ve gone from very short hair to longer hair since I haven’t been to a salon since last March; I just clip the sides back or put it behind my ears. So I’ve gone to washing it every two to three days. But washing it allows me to gently massage my scalp which is a huge relief because it’s always mildly itchy—which I understand is another symptom of TE.

I don’t use a conditioner. Do you think I should? I haven’t used a conditioner in the past because it tends to weigh down my hair. But my hair does seem kind of dry. It would probably be much worse in the summer when we have almost no humidity. At least now we have more moisture in the air.

I’ve been using my hair dryer on “warm” not “hot,” but yesterday I used the “cool” setting and the lowest speed because I thought it would be better for the hair. If I don’t use the dryer, my hair just lies there; the dryer gives it a little lift.

I’ve read that about silk or satin pillowcases. I’ll have to get a couple.
 

Maria Bayote

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There are many factors that can contribute to hair loss, but to me unfortunately its the stress and anxiety. There are days that I see a lot of hair coming along as I brush or wash my hair and it is scary, and thus adding to anxiety. For women a healthy hair is very important.

Maybe you can try eating more foods also that can help, like carrots, avocados and eggs (if they are not in your list yet). They said it can help, but unfortunately for me I do not like avocados. :)

There are also vitamins for the hair. I forgot the one I took before as I really do not like taking in vitamins that's why i stopped. You can try asking your doctor for it too.

I don’t use a conditioner. Do you think I should?
I think you should. It would smoothen and untangle the hair and easier to brush, thus may help in preventing more falling hair.

I pray its temporary for you. Take it easy. (I say that to myself too ;) )
 

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I'm sorry you're going through this. I was noticing a lot of hair loss recently and was wondering if it was stress-related. I switched my brand of Biotin, because I suspected it of being inferior. A nurse, who was a patient, mentioned another nurse who has had hair loss since having COVID. I had COVID in September, and do still experience some related health issues. Fortunately, my hair loss has improved, though my stress level is especially high.
 
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Tobermory

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I'm sorry you're going through this. I was noticing a lot of hair loss recently and was wondering if it was stress-related. I switched my brand of Biotin, because I suspected it of being inferior. A nurse, who was a patient, mentioned another nurse who has had hair loss since having COVID. I had COVID in September, and do still experience some related health issues. Fortunately, my hair loss has improved, though my stress level is especially high.
I wouldn’t be surprised if your hair loss was stress-related. My doctor says it’s common now. And since you had COVID and still have health issues, it seems even more likely. I’m glad the hair loss has lessened, but having a high stress level—as you know—can lead to other issues. I’ve always had low blood pressure, but it’s higher now, for example. I keep telling myself to sit quietly, close my eyes, and breathe deeply. And to stop reading the news throughout the day. I can feel my chest tightening and my anger rising when I read the news.

I’m so glad you came through the virus and hope you continue to heal. And have hair.:vibes:
 

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Tobermory Tobermory
Hey, just wondering how you've been doing? I seem to be going thru another fall out phase...kinda depressing because I can't think of a specific stress moment that matches up with this current loss, although there have been a few minor issues.
"This too shall pass" I guess, but still a bit down about it.
I hope you've seen some improvement in the last couple months...
 
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