There’s nothing like the occasional bad hair day to put you in a crummy mood. But what if a bad hair day was an everyday occurrence for you because of hair loss? A growing number of millennial women seem to be experiencing hair loss at an earlier age. It could be caused by an underlying medical condition, a side effect from a medication, or possibly the result of stomach-churning stress. Understanding the potential causes of generational hair loss in women–and knowing when to seek treatment and the right type of treatment to see–could help. Health Conditions That Can Cause Hair Loss in Women Women can lose their hair for a variety of possible reasons. Some of the most common culprits include: Certain medical conditions: for example, hypothyroidism and other thyroid disorders can cause hair loss. And women who have a condition called alopecia areata may notice bald patches developing on their scalps. Hormonal changes: losing hair after the major hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy is not uncommon. Some women find their hair thins out after they go through menopause, too. Medication: hair loss or thinning hair is a side effect of a number of drugs, including medications to treat cancer, high blood pressure, and depression. Female pattern hair loss: you’ve heard of male pattern baldness, but there’s also a progressive version that affects women, usually beginning in midlife. It’s very possible for young women in their 20s and 30s to experience hair loss as a result of any of these issues, although genetics and health play a large role in making that determination. Consult your doctor if you notice you’re losing hair so you can rule out any underlying health condition or other factor that’s causing your hair loss. If you can identify a cause, you can begin the appropriate treatment. Or if it turns out you have female pattern hair loss, you can get treatment to prevent it from worsening. Stress: Another Cause of Hair Loss and Thinning Another major factor that causes hair loss is stress. A growing body of research is beginning to suggest it may be stress that’s causing millennial women to shed more hair than usual. The American Psychological Association has found not only are millennials reporting higher-than-average stress levels, but they’re also falling short when it comes to developing effective strategies for coping with their stress. They’re more likely to indulge in unhealthy behaviors, too. Stress is a well-known cause of hair loss. According to the Mayo Clinic, three types of hair loss have been associated with stress: Telogen effluvium, which occurs after stress pushes extra hair follicles into a “resting” phase, stopping growth and causing sudden hair loss. Trichotillomania, which occurs when you have the irresistible urge to pull hair out from various parts of your body, often as a reaction to stress. Alopecia areata, which occurs when your body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing hair to fall out. It’s always a good idea to reduce your stress levels, since stress can have a detrimental effect on many aspects of your health. Stress reduction efforts might even prevent or reduce stress-related hair loss. So, if your stress levels have surged recently or you tend to operate at a high level of stress most of the time, pay attention to your hair. If you start noticing some loss, check in with your doctor. The Role of Nutrition Some experts have also speculated that nutritional deficiencies could play a role in hair loss among millennials, including millennial women. One possibility: younger Americans are a little more likely than older generations to report they’re vegetarian or vegan. Vegetarians and vegans are at increased risk for iron deficiency, which is the most common nutritional deficiency and a common cause of hair loss. If you worry your diet may be playing a role in your hair loss, talk to your doctor. It’s possible you may have some risk factors that predispose you to certain nutrient deficiencies. Your doctor can help you learn more about your specific nutritional needs and if you need to take any steps to address them. Nutritional deficiencies may require that you take a supplement, but often, doctors like to monitor their patients if there’s any risk of toxicity. Get to the Root Cause Because there are numerous possible causes of hair loss, it’s probably best to proceed with caution. Check in with your doctor and mention your concerns. That way, you can work on identifying the most likely cause of your hair loss and finding the best solution. Most importantly, don’t delay. It’s not surprising that young women may be embarrassed or in denial of their hair loss. But since hair loss can reveal underlying problems and high levels of stress, it can be very helpful to talk to your doctor about your symptoms to get a better idea of the problem–and how to solve it.