Stress can take a nasty toll on everything from our skin to our weight—it can even make our hair thin out, which is exactly what happened to this Australian-based beauty blogger.
According to DailyMail, Kimberly Nissen, 31, wrote in a blog post that she was experiencing "blogger's burnout" (spending "so much emotional and physical time" on her job), which caused her stress and led her to develop poor eating habits.
"When I had my mental breakdown, I stopped eating appropriately," she wrote. "Actually, I stopped eating altogether for long periods of time. The result was my anemia coming back and I ignored it."
As a result, Nissen began losing her hair, but she thought it was probably just due to her styling habits. "I blamed my tight braids, hair irons and chemical damage. However, when my normal amount of hair fall dramatically increased, with noticeable receding of my hairline, I panicked. I didn’t know where to begin with treating it but I couldn’t understand why it was happening."
After limiting the stress she put on her hair—she stopped wearing tight hairstyles, avoided using heat-based tools and hadn't dyed it in almost two years—Nissen learned that most causes of hair loss are health-related, not from daily habits, so she visited a doctor.
"There are dozens of reasons female hair loss occurs, but the three most common health related causes are pregnancy, thyroid disorders and anemia," she wrote. "Ruling out pregnancy was instant, and I had already been investigating a thyroid issue recently, and that was ruled out, so my doctor and I looked into anemia. My GP suggested that before we go down the expensive path of seeing any number of specialists and dermatologists, we should try simply adding an iron supplement to my diet. I was prepared to try all the prescription hair tonics, lasers and any other treatment that was recommended, but ideally, a $15 bottle of vitamins would be a dream solution for me."
Nissen took one Iron Plus supplement (many brands sell them; you can find them at almost all health food stores and drugstores) each day for a month, and in just that short time, she said her hair line had filled out to where it was three years before. "I have very thin hair, so my hair has never provided full coverage of my scalp, but as you will see from the before-and-after photos, the results are noticeable."
Greenwich, CT, dermatologist Mitchell Ross, MD, says iron deficiency is one of the many causes of hair loss and alopecia in women. "When iron stores are low, the body lacks the ability to produce hemoglobin in the blood, which carries oxygen for the growth and repair of all body cells, including the hair follicles. Iron deficiency hair loss is a temporary hair loss that causes the hair to be prematurely pushed from the anagen (growing) phase into the telogen (resting) phase of the hair cycle, causing the hairs to fall out. If the cause of hair loss is due to low blood iron levels, then iron supplements could be recommended to correct the deficiency and help return the follicles to the anagen (growth) phase."
However, Dr. Ross notes that iron supplements will not help those who do not have low iron, and therefore they should not be taken unless a health care provider deems you iron-deficient, which can be determined by a blood test.