Adrenal Glands, Stress Hormones, and Hair Loss
The adrenal glands are a very important piece of the human endocrine system. Located just above the kidneys, the adrenal glands are responsible for the production of several hormones that are designed to help mammals, like human beings, thrive in a world that is naturally plagued with mental, physical, and emotional challenges.
Stress management is key, however. Failure to properly manage stress may inhibit the long-term ability of the adrenal glands to produce a natural balance of hormones. This adrenal gland dysfunction may trigger a variety of serious side effects, including fatigue, weight loss, dizziness, nausea, and hair loss.
The Positive Side of Stress
Believe it or not, stress can be a very good thing. Eustress, or positive stress, can play a fundamental role in motivating individuals to engage in positive behaviors like learning, socializing, and physical exercise. Stress may even help individuals escape threatening situations by triggering a rapid increase in metabolism, energy, and mental clarity. This reaction is facilitated, in part, by the production of stress hormones.
The best known of all stress hormones is cortisol. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal cortex in the adrenal glands, and its production increases in response to environmental stress. Higher levels of cortisol drive blood pressure upward while simultaneously increasing blood sugar levels. Without this simple biological reaction, mammals would be unable to make swift and decisive action in the face of immediate danger. The adrenal glands are not built to sustain long-term stress hormone production and regulation, however.
How Stress Hormones May Cause Hair Loss
Though beneficial in the immediate sense, the ongoing production of stress hormones may lead to adrenal fatigue. This condition is characterized by the ongoing production of cortisol in response to lingering environmental stress. With only so much production capacity, the adrenal glands begin to produce cortisol at the expense of other important hormones, like aldosterone and other androgens.
For men, the sudden drop in testosterone may not necessarily cause immediate side effects. Male reproductive organs, like the testes, can often make up the difference in the production of testosterone and other powerful androgens. For women, however, adrenal fatigue can be a more serious problem. Sudden decreases in the production of testosterone and DHEA (a precursor that facilitates natural testosterone production) can be lasting, particularly in women who are experiencing menopause (i).
Finding a Balance: How to Proactively Manage Stress
The most effective way to prevent stress-related hair loss is to proactively manage the people, events, and thoughts that are most likely to elevate your perception of stress each day. Most helpful are the following activities:
Running, weight lifting, and other physical activities are a great way to reduce stress. Additionally, physical exercise promotes healthy hormonal production. In this way, exercise can help to manage stress levels while also working to maintain a healthy balance between cortisol, testosterone, and other important androgens.
Breathing and Stretching
Breathing and stretching are the easiest way to relieve the body of tension and stress. Yoga has become popular in recent years for this very reason. Best of all, simple breathing and stretching exercises can be done in places that are notorious for causing stress. Try this technique at work, in traffic jams, and at home.
Meditation and Focus
Stress and tension can be stored in the mind, too. Just as stretching and breathing can relieve the body of stress, meditation can similarly relieve the mind of negative thoughts, perceptions, and cognitions. Daily meditation is also associated with greater levels of concentration and focus, two key ingredients to staying caught-up and stress-free in both personal and professional life.
Checking for Hair Loss
Early detection, diagnosis, and treatment provide the best chance of restoring hair to its naturally full, resilient, and beautiful state. At the Hair Transplant Institute of Miami, we are pleased to offer the most comprehensive and technologically advanced methodology for diagnosing and treating hair loss in both men and women. Our team represents the finest hair transplant surgeons, registered nurses, microscopists, and clinical staff in South Florida, and we hold your pursuit of a fuller head of natural hair in the highest regard.
To move forward with a hair loss evaluation, schedule an appointment with the Hair Transplant Institute of Miami. Readers may also call our Institute at 305.925.0222 to speak directly with a member of our team.
(i) “Hair Loss and Adrenal Function.” Livestrong. Accessed 1 April 2013.