Hair loss caused by bereavement

Specific Conditions

Most people experience bereavement either in the family or in friends at some point in their life and it can be the most emotional experience that has no set pattern. When someone close dies it can leave a gap in life that is hard to get over. Some are able to cope and in time carry on knowing it is part of life’s cycle and although they will never forget they are able to move on.

For others it can be devastating and there is no consoling. This can happen particularly when it was unexpected or in a young person. Whatever the reason this form of stress can bring about changes in the body and can cause hair loss. Diet can change as feelings are ‘upside down’ and can interfere with normal eating habits. If valuable vitamins and minerals are not absorbed into the body it will affect the functioning of the body’s systems. During such emotional times if anything, more nutrients are required to keep healthy.

Without essential nutrients the body and mind will feel ‘run down’ and this will begin to show in the skin and hair and possible weight loss. Losing weight rapidly will damage health. The body has a complex system and when it feels nutrients are in short supply it will automatically ‘feed’ the vital organs first for survival. This means the skin, the largest organ, will be the last to be supplied and as hair follicles are within the skin complex it will suffer. It is not vital to life and signs of hair loss could begin.

Seeking professional advice at this time could help and there are bereavement counselors available who can help through this time. Understanding why death happened to someone close is the start to recovery and this is why help is so important. Once nutrients are being absorbed in the right quantities hair will start to grow again but the process could take time. Everyone is different and set times cannot be given.

The use of medications such as Propecia and minoxidil should not be used at this time without proper consultation with a qualified hair specialist. If there were no signs of hair loss before then the chances are that hair will regrow and eventually be as it was before. These two medications are medically approved treatments for those who suffer a genetic form of hair loss and should not be used for temporary loss.

After bereavement if hair loss is noticed it can be ‘normal’ and as said will grow back. if there is a long period of time after and hair is still falling out then advice must be sought. A professional will go through diet, exercise, daily lifestyle and family history. If necessary they will take blood tests to ensure there are no underlying problems such as hormone imbalance. It could be that there is a history of baldness in the family in previous generations but not in a parent. The stress of bereavement could trigger androgenic alopecia, male or female pattern baldness. For men it will start with a receding hairline and end with a bald area on the top of the head with hair around the sides and back. For women it is less obvious with hair thinning and patches of baldness.

Lack of hair can cause further stress at what is already a stressful time. It can be embarrassing for the individual as hair is one of our important features which gives a person their own identity. After looking at all the possible causes a consultant will be able to advise the best way forward. For short term loss a different hair style may well cover any patches and make the hair look thicker, or concealers could be used.

Bereavement is not a time anyone wants to go through but it does happen and can cause a great deal of stress but time heals and for most normality will return.

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