Have you ever emerged from the shower with clumps of hair stuck on your bathroom tiles? Or have you combed your fingers through your hair and discovered some hair strands clinging to your palms, like your hand was a hair magnet or something?
And then you felt your heart sink. You worry that more hair strands will fall. You worry about how friends and family will treat you once they noticed your thinning hair. You begin to think you’re not a whole person anymore.
Hair loss affects several men and women across the world. It doesn’t matter what your age, gender, or race is. It doesn’t even matter what kind of hair loss condition you’re suffering from. The fact remains that hair loss has a tremendous impact not just on your physical life, but most especially, on your mental health.
Our post for today will shed some light on the hidden dangers that hair loss can bring to one’s mental health. We also take a look at strategies to cope with any kind of hair loss conditions.
Why is Mental Health Affected by Hair Loss?
You tell others that you have hair loss and that it’s worrying you to bits. They dismiss your thoughts and tell you, “Oh, that’s just hair. No big deal! Quit thinking about it.”
But the truth is that each similar statement you hear from other people has a huge impact on your emotions and mental health. And these factors play a huge role in hair loss affecting your mental health:
Social Stigma on Hair Loss
People traditionally view one’s hair state as an overall reflection of health. Thick, luscious heads full of hair are seen as an indicator of excellent health. Conversely, limp, dry, brittle, and thinning hair are believed to convey that the person isn’t in tip-top healthy form. All of these beliefs may stem from evolutionary perspectives.
People may still point their fingers at a balding man and say he’s weak because he’s bald. Or a woman may still compare herself and her thinning hair to ladies with thicker tresses, thinking that they’re all fitter, healthier, and prettier than her.
Also, lots of people tend to dismiss hair problems as cosmetic issues. This is why they think hair loss is no big deal. In reality, though, plenty of hair loss conditions are tied to medical issues such as thyroid problems and autoimmune illnesses.
Social stigma on hair loss tends to revolve around negativity. Hence, many people plagued with any kind of hair loss may feel greatly upset and down when the public eye scrutinizes them.
Ties Between Hair and Self-Identity
Hair is a person’s crowning glory, and most people view their tresses as a personal expression of who they are. When people get hit by hair fall or baldness, it’s as if a huge chunk of their identity is taken away from them. Every falling hair strand, widening hair part, or bald spot on the head equates to a decline in confidence and self-esteem stemming from that feeling of lost identity.
In short, hair loss leads to mental health issues because of negative changes in how a person perceives oneself. His feelings, emotions, acts, and confidence all slide down, thanks to the changes in his perceived self-identity and how the society sees him now as a person with hair loss.
Mental Disturbances Associated with Hair Loss
Hair loss may ultimately be the cause of several mental health conditions. Here are some of these conditions alongside their possible symptoms:
- Anxiety Disorder – This condition causes severe anxiety attacks, excessive worrying, and heightened tension. You may feel like you can’t control your anxiety once it shows up.
- Social Anxiety Disorder/Social Phobia – A specific anxiety disorder wherein you fear being negatively judged or humiliated by people in social situations.
- Depression – A serious medical condition where you generally feel sadness and a loss of interest in activities you engaged in before. Depression can negatively affect the way you function, think, feel, and act.
Coping Strategies for a Life with Hair Loss
Here are some coping strategies you can use to help ease out those painful and harsh emotions that come with hair loss:
Come to terms with the challenging nature of hair loss problems.
Hair loss may not be life-threatening, but it is indeed life-altering. But through it all, gently remind yourself that you can successfully live with your hair loss problems. Sure, it may be highly-challenging, but assure yourself that you can live through it.
Gradually accept that your condition may pose lots of hurdles and challenges in your life, but as the strong person that you are, you’ll be able to overcome it well. This especially rings true if your hair loss condition is permanent or recurrent, such as androgenetic alopecia.
Know that your identity and worth aren’t rooted in your hair or appearance alone.
One of the emotional challenges of hair loss is the feeling of lost identity and self-worth, making your confidence levels slide down in an instant. To combat this, you must realize that your worth as a person comes from the beauty within you. Cliché as it may seem, but this is indeed the reality!
Your appearance may have changed due to hair loss, but you will always be remembered for who you are as a person. True friends and family members will stick to you no matter how bald or thin your hair has become.
Talk to a trustworthy person about your feelings.
Don’t push your emotions inside you. Let them out by talking to someone you can truly trust. Most of the time, talking about your feelings to a trustworthy person who knows how to listen well helps ease those hurtful feelings. It can bust out negativity and help prevent your emotions from getting all tangled up.
Join a Support Group for your Specific Hair Condition.
Joining support groups is also a wonderful way to get connected to people with the same condition as you do. Since people in support groups are experiencing the same hair loss issues as you, they’re better equipped to listen and talk to about your feelings and emotions.
Here are a few support groups and organizations that are available for you to interact with:
- World Alopecia Community
- National Alopecia Areata Foundation
- Hair Loss Support Groups
- The Rapunzel Project
- Children’s Alopecia Project
Give yourself a pep talk every day.
Positivity starts from within. And what better way to start your road towards feeling better emotionally than by cheering yourself up? You can start by reciting positive affirmations for healthy hair every day upon waking up. Yes, do it even if you don’t feel like it. You’ll find that repeating positive affirmations will gradually change your outlook and make you feel cheerier and optimistic overall.
Get medical help for both hair loss and your mental disturbances.
Let a health care professional see your hair problems to identify its main cause and treat it accordingly. There are plenty of treatment options that may help save you from hair loss, such as topical Minoxidil and Finasteride medications for men. They can also give you advice on lifestyle changes to help you regrow hair or live with chronic hair problems.
Also, see a health professional for your mental health conditions. He/she can diagnose your exact condition and help you find ways to deal with it. Treatments for mental health conditions may include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Prescription antidepressant medications
- Referral to support groups
Urgently seek medical care especially if you’re feeling symptoms of depression. This condition can be life-threatening if left untreated.
Societal stigma and a gradual feeling of lost self-identity are two main culprits in mental health conditions that stem from hair loss problems.
It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed, anxious, or even angry because of your hair loss. Acceptance may be hard to come by at first. But when you let these emotions out of control, they can quickly spiral down into unhealthy mental conditions such as depression.
Remember how others brush off your hair loss problems without regard to your emotions and mental health?
“Oh, that’s just hair. No big deal! Quit thinking about it.”
Now, here’s your rebuttal against them.
“It’s not just about hair. It’s about my hair AND my emotions. And all of these things are indeed a big deal. Off you go with your negativity! Your meanness WON’T affect me!”
Mental health will always play a big role in your overall wellness. Hence, it’s time to mitigate hair loss’s devastating effects on one’s emotions and general outlook in life. You can do so by practicing healthy coping strategies to deal with your condition.
Sure, it may seem hard at first. You may keep coming back to your torturous thoughts. But know that you’re not alone in this fight against hair loss. So, just keep pushing yourself up towards positivity and acceptance, and know your hair loss ain’t gonna pull you down!
What are your thoughts about hair loss and mental health? Drop us your ideas in the comments section below.