Our hair is our crowning glory. It enhances our appearance and is among the first things people notice when they look at us. A gorgeous mane is more than a style statement; it’s also a sign of beauty and femininity.
So, when we start experiencing excessive hair loss — particularly when it’s premature, it can have a huge psychological impact on our health. It can cause stress, anxiety, and depression which could aggravate the problem and lead to even more hair fall.
But what is the link between hair loss and mental health? Let’s take a look.
How Hair Loss Can Impact Our Mental Health
Hair loss affects an estimated 80 million people in the U.S.
With a statistic so huge, it’s important to understand the connection it can have on our overall health.
Research is fairly limited, but the general consensus seems to point out that there is a psychological and emotional impact, especially among those with more severe hair loss. It can cause intense emotional suffering and send your confidence and self-esteem down the drain, often leading to depression.
Less Confidence in One’s Appearance
There’s no getting around it; hair loss affects the way you look, instantly adding years to your face. It affects the way we perceive ourselves and how we think we’re perceived by others which could affect our confidence. Some may even develop a negative body image which could lower their self-esteem. This change is commonly seen in women because balding is societally considered more acceptable in men.
A loss of confidence is partly caused by the media which constantly flaunts people with healthy heads of hair, setting the standard for what’s considered beautiful.
Here’s where it gets even trickier to deal with.
A 2005 study showed that 63% of women with alopecia claimed to have career-related problems, emphasizing the link between hair and one’s socio-economic status. When you combine it with limited treatment options, it’s easy to see why the burden of hair loss can be heavy to bear.
Can Lead to Depression
A 2021 study showed how emotions brought on by hair loss could cause the loss of confidence, social withdrawal, and even suicidal tendencies.
This is because some people have difficulty coming to terms with their hair loss which could have been brought on by a stressful or traumatic event. It gives them anxiety, ultimately leading to depression. If you already have severe anxiety, it could affect the growth phase of your hair, making things even worse.
It could lead to avoiding social situations, lack of interest in things, loss of energy, low mood, sleep deprivation, and social/economic hardship which could have a severe impact on the day-to-day life of the affected individual. And, if you’re suffering from a mental health disorder, it could exacerbate the negative impact on your strands.
People with hair loss are at higher risk for psychiatric disorders. So, if they have an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a major depressive episode, social phobia, or body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), losing their hair could make them feel like they’re losing control over their lives which further aggravates their suffering.
People facing hair loss alongside these disorders often feel embarrassed and humiliated about the condition of their hair. They often avoid social engagements or situations where their hair might be in public view which could affect their quality of life.
Hair loss can be distressing, but most of the time, it can be treated with lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, and minimizing stress. If that doesn’t work, individuals can turn to FDA-approved medications like finasteride and minoxidil. If you’re going this route, remember that only continuous and consistent use can yield desired results.
Also, keep in mind that they come with their fair share of side effects such as irritation, hypertrichosis, allergic contact dermatitis, and in worse cases: tachycardia and diminished sex drive, so be sure to consider potential side effects before using medications.
If hair loss is persistent and appears permanent, treatment options can be limited. You can speak to your doctor to see if you’re a good candidate for hair transplantation or hair regeneration treatments.
While we’re on the subject, address the emotional distress brought on by the loss of hair. This could be done via antidepressants, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other promising means of coping with hair loss.
There are different types of hair loss. Some are more treatable than others.
If you, or someone you know, is losing more strands than usual, keep an eye on their mental health. Treatment will differ from patient to patient, so it’s a good idea to reach out to a medical professional as soon as the problem begins. They’ll find the root cause and determine the best course of treatment, allowing you to keep more hair on your head for as long as possible.