Stress-induced hair loss is quite common, so much so, it has its own diagnosis: a medical condition known as telogen effluvium. The stress pushes the follicles into a dormant phase (known as the telogen phase), which can cause those hairs to fall out.
It happens because our hair is supersensitive to any kind of imbalance in our bodies, due to how fast those strands reproduce. So when our hormone regulators—specifically, our sympathetic nervous system and adrenal glands—are imbalanced (like, say, due to a global pandemic), our hair is one of the first things to take a hit. “Both of these hormone [regulators], if out of balance due to high stress, will create hair thinning and loss,” certified trichologist Penny James reminds us about hair loss in women.
OK, the scientific jargon may sound serious, but don’t sweat—it’s totally normal, and it’s most likely temporary. “Once the stressors are managed, the hair will subsequently respond by not shedding further and eventually regrow,” assures board-certified dermatologist Christine M. Shaver, M.D., at Bernstein Medical Center for Hair Restoration in New York City. The process may take one to three months, so be patient (stressing will only make it worse!). In fact, Shaver says, it can take one to two years after the stressor for you to completely grow back your full mane.