Polyvagal Theory And Pattern Hair Loss

Sheik

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I think polyvagal theory provides not only validation of the "character armor" theory of hair loss, but also solutions. I won't go too in depth on polyvagal theory, but the idea is that the autonomic nervous system becomes dysregulated when we don't have a genuine sense of safety in a relationship with another person. This is often linked to trauma, developmental trauma, neglect, or just plain lack of connection with our parents in early life. This can result in a whole spectrum of health problems.

There are many videos of Stephen Porges explaining polyvagal theory, and he's written books if you prefer. Here's a video I personally found very insightful (though the main topic is misophonia):


So that's the first part...

The second part of this is that I suspect it's not so much muscle tension, but sympathetic mediated blood vessel constriction creating lack of circulation to the hair follicles (which I think can feel like muscle tension in the scalp... I have more thoughts on this). It is known that sympathetic arousal (i.e. fight or flight, which can become chronic) restricts blood flow to tissues which are less important in emergency situations (an obvious example of this is your fingers getting cold when you're nervous.) I'll admit that a big part of what's driving this theory for me is something I've experienced maybe 5 times in the past year: when I found myself in a really good state, relaxing and feeling good, and I began to feel really safe, I had a sudden feeling that was as if all the fine blood vessels in my skin relaxed and opened up. This feeling was like a sudden wave all over my body. And considering my chronic sympathetic activation, which has become very obvious to me, my history of trauma/developmental trauma, the character armor I have in probably every relationship, and all the health problems I've had which are linked to autonomic dysregulation, I think it all ties together in a coherent way.

So those are my thoughts. I couldn't tell you if my hair is going to stop falling out but what is clear is that my nervous system is not healed, it is going to take time, and that's a much bigger issue than my hair. (Not to imply that I suddenly care less about my hair). I might suggest looking at videos by Irene Lyon, who seems to have a thorough understanding of "the new traumatology" as she's called it (though she seems to be geared toward selling expensive courses, which I don't like), and also the work of Peter Levine, who created "Somatic Experiencing" therapy, and also has good videos on YouTube and books. I will tell you though, I personally like listening to Stephen Porges the most.

I've been doing SE which has really helped to deepen my understanding of this stuff and I might suggest looking for a practitioner, there are many of them around the world.
 

Inaut

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Nov 29, 2017
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Great post @Sheik
I’ve suspected vagal tone is hugely implicated in almost all forms of disease and as you pointed out, seems to be linked to emotion/trauma stored in the body (aka stress). This current trend/discussion of viruses lately on the forum and elsewhere leads down the same road in my eyes as they may currently be in us but show no signs of negative impact until triggered by stress (they may be protective in some aspects? Serve some purpose to elevate our healing???speculation on my part at this time)

The oneradionetwork interview with Richard Massey this week (just before Peats) was slightly philosophical/theoretical but it is timely with how I’m starting to view the organism(us). I don’t follow his train of thought for everything but certain things kind of stuck with me
 

CLASH

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Sep 15, 2017
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I think polyvagal theory provides not only validation of the "character armor" theory of hair loss, but also solutions. I won't go too in depth on polyvagal theory, but the idea is that the autonomic nervous system becomes dysregulated when we don't have a genuine sense of safety in a relationship with another person. This is often linked to trauma, developmental trauma, neglect, or just plain lack of connection with our parents in early life. This can result in a whole spectrum of health problems.

There are many videos of Stephen Porges explaining polyvagal theory, and he's written books if you prefer. Here's a video I personally found very insightful (though the main topic is misophonia):


So that's the first part...

The second part of this is that I suspect it's not so much muscle tension, but sympathetic mediated blood vessel constriction creating lack of circulation to the hair follicles (which I think can feel like muscle tension in the scalp... I have more thoughts on this). It is known that sympathetic arousal (i.e. fight or flight, which can become chronic) restricts blood flow to tissues which are less important in emergency situations (an obvious example of this is your fingers getting cold when you're nervous.) I'll admit that a big part of what's driving this theory for me is something I've experienced maybe 5 times in the past year: when I found myself in a really good state, relaxing and feeling good, and I began to feel really safe, I had a sudden feeling that was as if all the fine blood vessels in my skin relaxed and opened up. This feeling was like a sudden wave all over my body. And considering my chronic sympathetic activation, which has become very obvious to me, my history of trauma/developmental trauma, the character armor I have in probably every relationship, and all the health problems I've had which are linked to autonomic dysregulation, I think it all ties together in a coherent way.

So those are my thoughts. I couldn't tell you if my hair is going to stop falling out but what is clear is that my nervous system is not healed, it is going to take time, and that's a much bigger issue than my hair. (Not to imply that I suddenly care less about my hair). I might suggest looking at videos by Irene Lyon, who seems to have a thorough understanding of "the new traumatology" as she's called it (though she seems to be geared toward selling expensive courses, which I don't like), and also the work of Peter Levine, who created "Somatic Experiencing" therapy, and also has good videos on YouTube and books. I will tell you though, I personally like listening to Stephen Porges the most.

I've been doing SE which has really helped to deepen my understanding of this stuff and I might suggest looking for a practitioner, there are many of them around the world.


Someone else on the forum had mentioned the polyvagal theory of disease and I looked into a bit. I actually found it quite interesting/ relevant and it matched some of my experiences. I wrote a few long posts previously on the topic but I never shared the posts because they were a bit personal and I was still working through things. In conjunction with the polyvagal understanding of disease involving the autonomic nervous system, the chinese medicine model that discusses the different organs and their associations with emotions also seemed relevant to me.

I personally had a very poor relationship with my mother that crippled my ability to form emotional connections with women and trust people in general. At around age 8 or so I conciously realized that I didn't like her and that I didn't trust her. Even when I was younger I spent most of my time with babysitters, with my dad or at daycare (my dad's business was owning and operating a private daycare so the babysitters were often his employees). Over time it got significantly worse to the point that I had extreme anger towards my mother, hated her, and wished that she would die so I didn't have to deal with her anymore. At this point I developed digestive issues, and more specifically wound up having to have my gallbladder removed (in chinese medicine this organ is associated with anger). Leading up to the surgery and following the surgery, my sympathetic nervous response was often excessively high (fight or flight activation) in social situations, especially around unknown women (prior to this I don't really remember having much of an issue; I was a very social kid). For a few years my sympathetic response was out of control and my digestion continued to suffer despite the surgery. However, once I got away from my mother those things began to calm down significantly. I was still left with a persistent symptom though; left lower quadrant pressure (The overactive sympathetic "fight or flight" response was still there as well). The left lower quadrant pain I felt/ feel, I attribute to my colon. In the chinese medicine model, the colon is associated with an inability to let something go/ grieving. What's interesting is each of the past few major steps I have taken to let go of my Mother altogether (I have no relationship with her, parents are divorced), the spot has gotten progressively better. Diet and supplements make a difference as well, but this emotional component has been paramount for me. Furthermore, allowing myself to form a relationship with a woman I trust and care about is something, that although extremely difficult for me, has allowed me to further break the cycle and further release that left lower quadrant spot. As the spot releases the sympathetic responses have also gotten much less prominent and much less frequent.

As for somatic experiencing I'm not sure about the specifics of the practice as I didn't dive into it too much, but I often would meditate (every day) and scan my body and take notice of the different areas and the memories/ feeling/ sensations/ thoughts that would arise from them. My left lower spot was, for a while, a black hole to me. I couldn't access it, or if I did access it, I would get uncomfortable remnant feelings of my interaction with my mother. It's still not a 100% but its about 90% better than it was. Interestingly, during the time of extreme fight or flight responses, I lost a significant amount of my hair. As I progressively got better, my hair stopped falling out. My most recent forays into hair loss etiology, had me thinking along the lines of excess DHT production up regulating sympathetic nervous system activation leading to vasoconstriction, bone growth/ thickening, with subsequent hair loss. Now that you incorporate the polyvagal theory it does seem very plausible. Perhaps the excess fight or flight responses from disregulation of the vagal/ autonomic nervous systems creates a semi-hypoxic environment that leads to an up regulation of 5AR that converts testosterone to DHT. The DHT then further upregulates the sympathetic nervous system. I also think an infection in the gut can up regulate sympathetic tone/ adrenal hormone output and increase overall vasoconstriction and hairloss.

As a side note, exposure to excess EMF/ fluorescent light, in my experience, drastically increases my fight/ flight responses.
 

GorillaHead

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Very interesting. My feet are cold often. Especially when i start playing call of duty. If i dont have socks on they get super cold. It doesnt matter how much carbs i eat.

Raynauds is the first symptom of scloderma. Fibrosis of the skin.


MPB is fibrosis of the scalp.


cure raynauds cure mpb?


when my feet get cold they dont turn blue. But they def get cold. When I was younger i never remember this happening ever.


If fact if we treat the body like a gradient the strong thickest hair is between my mouth and upper chest.

as you go down my legs the hair density decreases and the hair length decreases as well.

furthermore mpb has calcification. Minoxidil i creases potassium in the cell which is low due to high calcium in the cell of mpb tissue. Guess what the first line of defense against raynauds. Calcium channel blockers
 
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Thanks for bringing this up. As someone who began balding very early, and always struggled with a sense of wellbeing, I had an extremely stressful social life growing up (3-12 probably) having to mix with kids I didn't know, didn't like, and who didn't like me. This damaged my relationship with my parents, who wanted me to fit in, and as such I've always felt an outsider, and I can never shake the feeling that people secretly don't like me, or would be quick to go off me if I do anything wrong. It's not like I don't have friends now, i do, but I feel like I have to earn it, if that makes sense? I've often wondered whether this is related to my hair loss, because many other young bald men like me that I've encountered seem to make a real, real effort to be nice. Like they're trying to earn their place.
 

JudiBlueHen

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Jun 26, 2017
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Very interesting stories - thanks all. The MPB also applies to women - my mother had it and so do I to some extent. I assumed it was genetic, but I can see where early relationships may indeed play a role. I had a father who switched from gregarious and energetic and very capable to angry and ranting. These rants became frequent, maybe twice weekly and I learned never to talk back as that would make him rant longer. Mother who was normally cheerful and industrious, would not intervene on behalf of me and my younger sister, who always talked back. She became psychotic in her twenties and suffered schizoaffective disorder thereafter. Many years later I became the "caretaker" for Mom, and then my sister. Anyway, now I'll look into this polyvagal approach.
 

Ableton

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I'll admit that a big part of what's driving this theory for me is something I've experienced maybe 5 times in the past year: when I found myself in a really good state, relaxing and feeling good, and I began to feel really safe, I had a sudden feeling that was as if all the fine blood vessels in my skin relaxed and opened up. This feeling was like a sudden wave all over my body. And considering my chronic sympathetic activation, which has become very obvious to me, my history of trauma/developmental trauma, the character armor I have in probably every relationship, and all the health problems I've had which are linked to autonomic dysregulation, I think it all ties together in a coherent way.

I've had similar experiences. Right now, I have 37degrees body temp yet cold hands though...
I have made this experience (warmth flushing through my body in my hands and allthroughout my body) maybe three times. I can recall I had it once after crying which I usually never do, due to breaking up a relationship. I felt like I was letting go of emotional trauma, and I guess you could say like removing character armor indeed.

The other times I don't quite remember, but I think stretching/relaxed back (its usually very constricted) and good, healthy meals were involved. I think one time inclined bed was involved actually (tried it during a hospital stay) which might have just decompressed my back further or ramped up my metabolism.

I have made each of those experiences lying in my bed before sleep.

Things I need to fix:

get rid of character armor by getting life together
fix posture
get sun
peat more consistently
 

Hairfedup

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Absolutely believe this to be true. I've been banging on about the psychological aspect of hair loss for years now. I said on this very forum, that a large-scale study (that would never be ethically approved today) analyzing young men with early pattern hairloss' relationship with their mothers would be damning for the ever narcissist-egalitarian so-called feminist movement. Guarantee the vast majority of young men with MBP would have archetypal narcissist mothers who most likely suffered from what is hilariously deemed postpartum depression. Early developmental psychology is the key here, but the truth has been buried away post 1970's wave feminism. Sad.
 
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Absolutely believe this to be true. I've been banging on about the psychological aspect of hair loss for years now. I said on this very forum, that a large-scale study (that would never be ethically approved today) analyzing young men with early pattern hairloss' relationship with their mothers would be damning for the ever narcissist-egalitarian so-called feminist movement. Guarantee the vast majority of young men with MBP would have archetypal narcissist mothers who most likely suffered from what is hilariously deemed postpartum depression. Early developmental psychology is the key here, but the truth has been buried away post 1970's wave feminism. Sad.

My experience definitely supports something like this. I have a broken relationship with my parents.
 

Ableton

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mine does not. in fact i started noticing my receding hairline when I did not have a worry in life. doing well in school, being popular, having loving, selfless parents and a nice love life. lots of alcohol and pufa though.

so for me, it did not start out psychologically, no chance.
those are all just anecdotes though. I think there is a pattern among mpb sufferers to blame everything going wrong in their life on hairloss, and everything that went wrong as the cause for hairloss.
 

ExD

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mine does not. in fact i started noticing my receding hairline when I did not have a worry in life. doing well in school, being popular, having loving, selfless parents and a nice love life. lots of alcohol and pufa though.

so for me, it did not start out psychologically, no chance.
those are all just anecdotes though. I think there is a pattern among mpb sufferers to blame everything going wrong in their life on hairloss, and everything that went wrong as the cause for hairloss.

why lots of alcohol and junk food? didn't you care about your health?

do you know they performed an experiment to test the intelligence of the human body relative to the conscious mind - subjects were given two sets of cards which either gave the subject some money, or took some away. one of the stacks was rigged to be considerably less generous than the other.

iirc, on average it took participants around 15-20 card picks to realize that one stack was considerably more profitable than the other, but what is interesting is that the scientists noted each of the subjects hands would start to perspire as they picked from the bad pile, after only 3 or 4 cards.

point being, if you think there's "no chance" psychology has anything to do with your hair loss because you were popular and relatively successful when it started, bare in mind that most of us don't even recognise chronic stress when we look for it, let alone when we are distracted by popularity and success.
 
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Ableton

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why lots of alcohol and junk food? didn't you care about your health?

do you know they performed an experiment to test the intelligence of the human body relative to the conscious mind - subjects were given two sets of cards which either gave the subject some money, or took some away. one of the stacks was rigged to be considerably less generous than the other.

iirc, on average it took participants around 15-20 card picks to realize that one stack was considerably more profitable than the other, but what is interesting is that the scientists noted each of the subjects hands would start to perspire as they picked from the bad pile, after only 3 or 4 cards.

point being, if you think there's "no chance" psychology has anything to do with your hair loss because you were popular and relatively successful when it started, bare in mind that most of us don't even recognise chronic stress when we look for it, let alone when we are distracted by popularity and success.

at 19 I took health (and hair) for granted. at least I was doing pretty well until like 27. PUFA happened in home cuisine mostly, little fast food.
obviously, "no chance" is a bad wording on my part. I'm aware that this ***t is contingent. I just think it's unlikely. Hair loss has been my biggest psychological stressor by far. I guess we would not be here if it was not a stressor for all of us
 
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