The causes of hair loss can range; from genetics to thyroid problems to medical treatments such as chemotherapy. But whatever the cause of the issue, the mental struggle and anxiety caused is always the same, and it can be a very distressing time. Perhaps because it is tied up so closely with our self-perception, the loss can be a stark reminder of our sense of ageing and mortality.
This can lead to a period of depression and a loss of self-esteem amongst other mental health issues.
The cultural weight on hair within society is nothing new. It is a universal means of expression, a defining feature and the source of our self-confidence so It is only natural that the loss of it would lead to, at a minimum, some serious self-reflection.
What does science say about the psychological effects of hair loss?
At this moment in time, the level of research into the psychological effects of hair loss is minimal, but it is growing. It is set to be improved drastically in the coming years as there is enough anecdotal evidence for the scientific community to realise this is having a significant effect on a considerable segment of the population.
What scientific evidence we do have confirms that the experience of hair loss is psychologically hindering and can lead to relationship and work-related problems.
Those suffering from severe hair loss will likely experience greater distress than those with mild hair loss. However, each case is particular to the individual.
If a person’s eyelashes and eyebrows are affected, then the level of consideration is different again as it may severely affect their ability to conform with what is expected in society.
The reason this kind of experience is difficult to understand is that balding can, in some cases, leads to hair loss, which causes stress in social situations that then causes further anxiety and depression.
When compared to the rest of the public people with hair loss issues have a higher chance of suffering psychiatric disorders such as depressive episodes, and anxiety disorders, social or paranoia.
What are the clinical features of anxiety/depression due to hair loss?
In the worst cases, losing hair can lead people to suffer from depression and anxiety. Feeling ‘depressed’ can manifest itself in a feeling of sadness, boredom and lack of interest or pleasure in life.
Depression can feel like a loss of energy and can cause issues around sleep. Anxiety is a sense of worry that takes over your life. It can be overwhelming at times, and many people have issues controlling their feelings.
A common symptom is palpitations and sweating. Social phobia or avoidance behaviour follows on from the experience of anxiety symptoms, leading to social and economic suffering.
Many sufferers of hair loss fear humiliation or being judged negatively in social situations. This can result in them becoming reclusive.
The resulting behaviour can be quite destructive and can influence their relationships, career and social life.
What Can be Done to Help Depression and Anxiety Related to Hair Loss?
There are ways of treating anxiety and depression caused by hair loss. Cognitive behavioural therapy and support groups can be effective. There are also medications such as antidepressants available.
Being aware of psychological wellbeing during hair loss is important. If you notice a change in behaviour or outlook continues to monitor your moods closely.
Long term, the best solution for hair loss is a hair transplant. As well as restoring a younger look, it can give back confidence and sense of self, leading to a happier and more fulfilled life.
If you would like to find out more about hair loss treatment, arrange a consultation with Dr Shahmalak. Contact us today on 03455 2 100 300.