Like teeth and fingernails, hair can be an important indicator of overall health. You might think hair loss and thinning only happens to older people, but as stress is on the rise in millennial women, so is hair loss. So, what’s the connection? Stress and Hair Loss Leading causes of hair loss and thinning include lifestyle habits such as an unbalanced diet, underlying health conditions such as hormone problems, and stress. Some women may experience a condition called telogen effluvium, in which high levels of stress make hair follicles stop growing. After a few months, these hairs may fall out suddenly. Other women may develop trichotillomania, a mental health condition that’s not uncommon in people under severe stress. It’s characterized by the compulsion to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows, and other areas of your body. Still other women develop alopecia areata, a condition that causes the body’s immune system to attack hair follicles, leading to significant hair loss. Stress isn’t the only cause of alopecia areata, but it’s a significant one. Stress in Millennial Women Why are millennial women so stressed out? Money tops the list. According to a recent Stress in America Report from the American Psychological Association (APA), more millennials than previous generations rate the ability to pay for essentials as a significant source of stress. A full 43% of them said not having enough money prevents them from living a healthy lifestyle. Contributing factors include high housing costs and job instability in the new gig economy. Money is a bigger stressor for millennial women than millennial men, and women have more difficulty coping with it in healthy ways. The most common ways of coping are sedentary, including binge-watching TV, napping, comfort eating, drinking alcohol, and smoking. These habits may feel good in the moment, but none of them help with stress and hair loss. Healthy Ways to Reduce Stress Seeking emotional support is not only a healthier approach to managing both stress and depression, it’s also more effective. The APA study showed those with emotional support had lower stress levels, a lower increase in stress year over year, and felt sad or depressed less often. They were also able to push past their stress to make healthy lifestyle changes at double the rate of those without support. Many women, however, don’t feel like they have enough support in their lives, and they’re less likely to say so than men. Community resources and support groups can help fill the need. Other healthy (and low-cost) ways to deal with stress include listening to music, walking or other exercise, engaging with friends and family, or taking up a hobby. If you’re worried about hair loss and thinning, take a good look at your stress level and the ways you’re currently managing it. Talk with your doctor about your concerns and decide the best next steps together.