“All of us at anxietycentre.com have experienced debilitating anxiety. But we’ve also overcome it and returned to normal and lasting health. Because we know the hardship anxiety unwellness can cause, we are committed to helping others, with over 30 years of service.” - Jim Folk, President, anxietycentre.com

Hair Loss, Hair Thinning, Balding – Anxiety Symptoms

Jim Folk author
Written by: Jim Folk.
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated: November 1, 2020


anxiety symptom hair loss image

Hair loss is a common anxiety disorder symptom, including anxiety attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, Obsessive Compulsive disorder, and others.

To see if anxiety might be playing a role in your anxiety symptoms, rate your level of anxiety using our free one-minute instant results Anxiety Test or Anxiety Disorder Test.

The higher the rating, the more likely it could be contributing to your anxiety symptoms, including hair loss.

This article explains the relationship between anxiety and losing hair.

Anxiety and Hair Loss, Thinning, Balding, Bald Spots:

Common anxiety related hair loss descriptions:

  • You notice your hair is thinning
  • You notice your hair is falling out in clumps
  • You notice you are getting some bald spots
  • It seems your hair is falling out and/or thinning more than normal
  • It seems you are going bald
  • It looks like you are losing hair on your head and/or other spots on the body
  • You notice there is more hair in your comb, brush, or in the tub or shower
  • You fear you are going bald because of your anxiety
  • You also notice an increase in the amount of hair coming out when you comb or brush your hair, when washing or rubbing your skin, or that you are pulling out clumps of hair at a time

You can experience hair loss on one area of the head only, many areas of the head, and the entire head. You can experience hair loss on any other part of the body, as well.

Hair loss can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you may experience hair loss, thinning, and balding once in a while and not that often, experience it off and on, or experience hair loss all the time.

Hair loss may precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.

Hair loss can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur "out of the blue" and for no apparent reason.

Hair loss can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. For example, hair loss can be mildly, moderately, or greatly noticeable.

Hair loss can change from day to day and from moment to moment.

All of the above combinations and variations are common.

Why can anxiety cause hair loss, thinning, balding?

Medical Advisory

When hair loss is caused by anxiety:

1. Stress and hyperstimulation

Anxious behavior activates the stress response, which causes many body-wide changes that give the body an emergency “boost” of energy and resources when we believe we could be in danger.[1][2]

Stress responses stress the body due to all of the changes caused by the stress response. Therefore, anxiety stresses the body since anxiety activates the stress response.

Visit our “Stress Response” article for more detailed information about the stress response and its many changes.

When stress responses occur infrequently, the body can recover relatively quickly from the physiological, psychological, and emotional changes caused by the stress response.

However, when stress responses occur too frequently, such as from overly apprehensive behavior, the body can’t complete recovery.

Incomplete recovery can cause the body to remain in a state of semi stress response readiness, which we call “stress-response hyperstimulation” since stress hormones are stimulants.

Hyperstimulation is also often referred to as “hyperarousal,” “HPA axis dysfunction,” or “nervous system dysregulation.”[3][4]

Visit our “Stress-response Hyperstimulation” article for more information about the many changes caused by hyperstimulation.

Hyperstimulation can cause the changes of an active stress response even though a stress response hasn’t been activated. Consequently, hyperstimulation chronically stresses the body.

Stress, including anxiety-caused stress, can cause hair thinning and loss.

There are many reasons why stress causes hair thinning and hair loss, including:

  • Stress activates neuroendocrine-immune circuits, which terminate hair growth.[5]
  • Stress enhances neurogenic inflammation that can affect hair growth.[5][6]
  • Stress induces adaptive immunity cytokine-imbalance characterized by a shift to Type 1 T-helper cell cytokine, which can affect hair growth.[5]
  • Stress increases apoptosis of epithelial cells, which can also affect hair growth.[6]
  • Stress hormones affect other hormones: Hormonal changes can cause hair thinning and loss. For example, androgenic hormones (such as testosterone and its related hormone DHT) affect hair growth. The presence of androgens can cause some hair follicles to regress and die.
  • Telogen effluvium (TEL-o-jun uh-FLOO-vee-um): chronic stress causes hair follicles to enter a resting phase. Affected hairs can fall out suddenly within a few months when combing or washing hair.
  • Alopecia areata (al-o-PEE-she-uh ar-e-A-tuh): stress can cause the immune system to attack hair follicles, which can cause hair loss.
  • Trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh): stress can also cause “hair pulling” disorder. Pulling hair can create balding.[7]

To name a few.

Any one or combination of the above can cause stress-related hair loss and balding symptoms.

As long as the body is stressed, hair can thin and fall out. Consequently, overly anxious behavior is a common cause of hair thinning and hair loss.

2. Other factors:

Related to anxiety and stress, other factors can cause and contribute to this hair thinning and loss, including:

Select the relevant link for more information.



Advertisement - Article Continues Below



How to stop hair thinning, hair loss, and balding caused by anxiety

When hair thinning, hair loss, and balding are caused by any of the other factors mentioned in point 2, addressing the specific cause will alleviate hair thinning and loss symptoms.

When hair thinning, hair loss, and balding are caused by stress, including anxiety-caused stress, reducing anxious behavior and stress can alleviate hair related symptoms in time.

Containment is one of the most effective ways to reduce and eliminate anxious behavior. We explain “containment” in detail in chapter 6 in the Recovery Support area of our website.

Visit our “60 Natural Ways To Reduce Stress And Anxiety” article for natural and practical ways to reduce stress.

Approximately one third of those who struggle with anxiety issues experience hair loss, thinning, and balding. It is a common anxiety symptom.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any quick solutions to stress- and anxiety-caused hair loss, thinning, and balding. But you can reverse it when you deal with your stress and anxiety issues.

Play the clip below for Jim Folk's commentary about the hair loss anxiety symptoms. Jim Folk is the president of anxietycentre.com.


A little more than one third of anxious people experience hair loss due to their anxiety and the stress it causes. Jim Folk experienced hair loss during his 12 year struggle with anxiety disorder.

Some people become anxious about hair loss. Since hair thinning, loss, and balding are common symptoms of stress, including anxiety-caused stress, being anxious about hair loss symptoms can keep the body stressed, causing hair loss symptoms to persist.

Therefore, it’s best to deal with your anxiety issues so that your body can recover and eliminate the hair loss symptom.

If you are having difficulty dealing with your anxiety issues, you may want to connect with one of our recommended anxiety disorder therapists. Working with an experienced therapist is the most effective way to overcome anxiety issues and its symptoms.




The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.


Additional Resources:


Return to Anxiety Disorders Signs and Symptoms section.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for problematic anxiety and its sensations and symptoms, including hair loss anxiety symptoms.


REFERENCES:

1. Folk, Jim. “The Stress Response.” Anxiety Attacks, Anxietycentre.com, 2020, www.anxietycentre.com/anxiety/stress-response.shtml.

2. "Understanding the Stress Response - Harvard Health." Harvard Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2016.

3. Elbers, Jorina, et al. "Wired for Threat: Clinical Features of Nervous System Dysregulation in 80 Children." Pediatric Neurology, Dec 2018, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0887899418302716

4. Teixeira, Renata Roland, et al. “Chronic Stress Induces a Hyporeactivity of the Autonomic Nervous System in Response to Acute Mental Stressor and Impairs Cognitive Performance in Business Executives.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4373764/.

5. Peters, Eva, et al. "Hair and stress: A pilot study of hair and cytokine balance alteration in healthy young women under major exam stress." PLOS ONE, 19 Apr 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5397031/

6. Hadshiew, Ina, et al. "Burden of Hair Loss: Stress and the Underestimated Psychosocial Impact of Telogen Effluvium and Androgenetic Alopecia." Journal of Investigative Dermatology, Sep 2004, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022202X15309635

7. Grant, Jon, and Chamberlain, Samuel. "Trichotillomania." American Journal of Psychiatry, 1 Sep 2016, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5328413/