The Vicious Circle of Stress Causing and Caused by Hair Loss
Nadine Griffiths was diagnosed with alopecia following a miscarriage. Her story demonstrates how shock and stress can affect the body.
Stress may be a condition which originates in the mind, but it has a tremendous effect on your physical wellbeing. Stress is linked to the hormone cortisol which is released by the adrenal glands. When levels of cortisol are too high, the impact of this hormone can disrupt the body’s natural balance. There are several hair-related conditions which can be attributed to stress. These are telogen effluvium which is excessive hair shedding, alopecia areata which causes bald patches, hair pulling known as trichotillomania and androgenic alopecia which is hair thinning.
Alopecia Diagnosis Following Miscarriage
29-year-old Nadine Griffiths knows first-hand how severe stress can cause hair loss. In 2012, the mum of two suffered a miscarriage 48 hours after being told by doctors that the pain she was experiencing was due to being pregnant. Sadly, she lost the pregnancy and the shock and trauma of the event caused her immense stress. As well as having an iron deficiency due to blood loss, Nadine also had seizures. Her hair started falling out shortly after the miscarriage – over a two-week period she’d lost noticeable amounts starting with just minor shedding at first. Six weeks later and almost all of her hair had gone. After a formal diagnosis of alopecia in 2013, the condition has come and gone ever since, leaving her with bald patches.
Nadine describes the effect that alopecia has had on her personality, “It’s completely changed my life. I went from fun and easy going to uptight, emotional, nervy and anxious about everything.”
Coping With Alopecia
Having a strong support network is critical for people with alopecia, but it can be difficult to explain the condition fully. Nadine is regularly asked by her two sons aged 4 and 6 why her hair has fallen out, but equally difficult is when strangers assume that she’s undergoing treatment for cancer which she finds both embarrassing and feels guilty about as she’s otherwise healthy.
A lack of confidence can be a huge problem for those who have been diagnosed with alopecia, as you have to become accustomed to an entirely different self-image. As someone who had previously had long hair, Nadine found it upsetting to lose this part of her identity and felt that her femininity had been taken away from her. Since being diagnosed, originally she was going out either bald or wearing headscarves, but has since opted to wear a wig instead. She describes her decision – “it makes me feel like people aren’t staring at me anymore. It makes me feel feminine again and gives me that bit of confidence I need to go out and face the world.”.
Wigs for alopecia are available that are made from 100% real European hair, meaning that they look entirely natural. With a lightweight foundation, they fit discreetly to your head so no-one will be able to tell that you’re wearing a wig if you’re not comfortable with people knowing about your condition. Modern wigs on the market can be cut and styled to your individual specifications so that they match your existing or previous hairstyle. Wiglets are also available for people who haven’t lost their entire volume of hair, but need help in covering bald coin-sized patches on the scalp, perhaps to place over the top of a thinning crown. You never know when severe stress will affect the delicate balance of your body, but alopecia is a condition that can be managed so long as you seek the necessary support.