No man or woman wants to lose their hair at any point in their lives. Despite the fact that baldness by itself isn’t life-threatening and people can live perfectly healthy daily lives without hair on their heads, the psychological effects of hair loss can be severe and understandable reasons.
There’s no shame in feeling negative about alopecia or any other condition that leads to loss of hair. Many healthcare providers, including we at Renew MD Wellness, offer remedies and treatment for hair loss because your mental and physical health matters, including feeling good about your body and aspect. And that might even come in the form of acceptance of your appearance or healthy and safe ways to recover lost hair.
Let’s take a closer look at the psychological impacts of hair loss and explore some of the underlying causes and how to manage its impact on mental health.
What is hair loss?
Hair loss, medically referred to as alopecia, is a condition in which hair is lost from areas of the body where it usually grows. It can affect just one area or be widespread.
There are several types of hair loss which can occur on any part of the body and can present itself in various forms, such as:
- Scarring alopecia: where the hair follicles are destroyed and replaced by scar tissue, leading to severe hair loss in that area.
- Telogen effluvium: when more hairs enter into the resting phase than usual, causing general thinning over the head.
- Anagen effluvium: when hair growth is disrupted due to damage to the anagen (active) phase of growth.
The diagnosis requires a thorough health history and physical examination, including blood tests if necessary.
Depending on the cause, treatments may include medications such as minoxidil, finasteride, or hormones like testosterone replacement therapy.
Psychological support is also important for people that experience significant distress due to unwanted hair loss of any type, distress that can lead to severe psychiatric disorders if left untreated.
Main causes of hair loss
Some of the most common causes of hair loss include genetics, hormones, stress, age, medical conditions, and medications. Genetics can play a major role in hair loss, as it can be passed down from parents to children, like androgenic alopecia, but many other conditions and situations can lead to baldness and hair loss in general, which we can detail more below.
Characterized by distinct pattern hair loss, Androgenetic Alopecia (or androgenic alopecia) is one of the most common causes of baldness.
This type of hair loss is caused by an imbalance between testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the body and can affect both men and women.
Although there is currently no cure for Androgenetic Alopecia, patients with alopecia can hope for treatments that may help reduce the rate at which hair falls out or provide some degree of regrowth.
Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, can result in significant hair loss, which may be distressing to patients.
These treatments often target rapidly dividing cells, such as those located in hair follicles. As a result, this medical treatment can damage the hair follicles and cause individuals to lose their head of hair.
Patients undergoing cancer treatments may experience emotional distress from the sudden changes in their physical appearance.
Patients need to understand that a supportive community is available to them during their difficult journey. Patients who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments can find inner strength and resilience through perseverance and courage.
Hormonal changes, such as those related to pregnancy, can also lead to hair loss. For women, hormonal changes, such as those related to pregnancy or menopause, can also lead to hair loss.
This type of hair loss is known as telogen effluvium and is usually temporary, although it may last up to a year in some cases.
Autoimmune diseases and inflammatory diseases are conditions in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues, including hair follicles. This can lead to hair loss, although the hair may re-grow once the underlying condition is treated. Some of the most common autoimmune diseases associated with hair loss include lupus, alopecia areata, and vitiligo. In some cases, the hair loss may be permanent.
Stress can affect hair growth or worsen the effects of alopecia by causing the hair follicles to enter a resting phase. As a result, the hair can become thinner or even stop growing altogether. Psychological stress can also cause hair loss since it releases cortisol, a hormone that inhibits hair growth. A person constantly under psychological or emotional stress can also see negative changes in their lifestyle, like poor nutrition and unhealthy habits, both of which can contribute to poor hair growth.
Age can also be a factor, as hair follicles become less productive with age, although this isn’t the rule of law, and many men can have a healthy set of hair well into their old age, including with some treatment.
Finally, certain medications can also cause hair loss as a side effect. Some of the most common medications that can lead to hair loss include chemotherapy drugs, beta-blockers, antidepressants, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It is important to talk to your doctor if you think a medication is causing your hair loss, as they may be able to adjust the dosage or prescribe a different medication.
Diagnosing Hair Loss
A variety of factors, such as genetics, hormonal imbalances, age, and stress, can cause alopecia.
In order to get an accurate diagnosis of the hair loss is due to a medical condition or something else, it is important to look at the pattern of hair loss. If the hair falls out in patches or clumps, it could suggest an underlying medical issue, whereas thinning all over would more likely not be related to a medical condition.
Additionally, it may help to consult with a dermatologist who can assess patients with alopecia’s scalp health and offer advice on how to proceed.
The psychological effects of hair loss on people
Hair loss can have a severe psychological impact on patients with alopecia, both men and women, due to its potential to cause depression, anxiety, body dysmorphic disorder, and other psychiatric disorders.
Depression and anxiety
Experiencing the thinning or complete loss of hair can lead to emotional distress, including depression and anxiety. This is because many people perceive their hair as a part of their self-image and self-worth.
Thus, when they experience changes in the appearance of their hair, it can trigger feelings of insecurity and inadequacy.
Furthermore, some people may even feel ashamed or embarrassed about the changes that have taken place in their physical appearance due to hair loss.
Depression usually begins with a feeling of sadness or being overwhelmed by thoughts that are difficult to manage or cope with.
These depressive symptoms can range from mild moodiness to extreme feelings of psychological stress, worthlessness, and hopelessness that can be paralyzing for some individuals.
Anxiety, on the other hand, manifests in physical symptoms like rapid breathing and increased heart rate, along with mental symptoms such as fearfulness and worries that seem uncontrollable.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a mental disorder characterized by an obsessive preoccupation with perceived physical flaws and disfigurements, which may include hair loss.
This psychiatric disorder can cause patients with alopecia to become increasingly self-conscious and anxious about their appearance. It can also lead to feelings of worthlessness and depression, and social isolation due to the fear of being judged or rejected by others.
Individuals suffering from BDD related to hair loss often experience:
- Intense shame and embarrassment.
- Low self-esteem.
- Social withdrawal or social phobia.
- Suicidal tendencies and thoughts.
- As with any mental health condition, those affected by BDD need to seek medical attention in order to manage symptoms and improve the quality of life in patients.
Having a full head of hair can be associated with youth, beauty, and vitality. For those who experience hair loss, this is more than just a bad hair day, and their lack of these physical traits can have negative social implications that go beyond the physical effects.
It has been observed that patients with alopecia can be subject to social stigma due to their appearance. This phenomenon is often based on stereotypical beliefs about how one should look to fit society’s ideal image.
The impact of these negative societal expectations may lead individuals with hair loss to feel a form of social phobia or be excluded from groups or activities they otherwise would enjoy.
How to Cope with Hair Loss
Hair loss can lead to a number of psychological and psychiatric disorders, including depression and low self-esteem. Seeking the help of a therapist or counselor is an essential first step in managing these issues, along with remedies and treatments that can give you hope of a restored and healthy hair.
See a therapist and treat depression
For those struggling with hair loss, seeing a mental health professional may be beneficial in addressing the various emotions that accompany this condition. Many individuals experience depression and anxiety when faced with thinning hair or baldness. A therapist can help to explore underlying mental health issues related to self-esteem, body image, and identity.
It is important for individuals to feel heard and validated in their feelings of sadness or frustration surrounding alopecia or loss of hair. Therapy can also aid in helping individuals learn ways to cope with difficult emotions while focusing on strategies for building resilience.
During therapy sessions, people can identify core beliefs they have about themselves that impact how they perceive their physical appearance and develop positive coping skills for managing stressors related to these beliefs. Developing an individualized plan for dealing with the psychological effects of hair loss is a powerful way to increase the quality of life while learning how to better accept one’s changed appearance.
Wig or Hairpiece
Exploring the option of wearing a wig or hairpiece can be an effective strategy for addressing the physical and emotional impacts of hair loss.
Wigs and hairpieces (toupee) are widely available in many colors, styles, and sizes to fit individual needs, allowing people with hair loss to feel more confident about their appearance. For those comfortable doing so, hairpieces can help them blend into situations where they might otherwise stand out due to their baldness.
Wearing a hairpiece is also helpful for those who suffer from low self-esteem due to their hair loss. It allows them to return some confidence back into their lives by improving their outward appearance.
Additionally, wearing a wig or hairpiece helps with the psychological effects of hair loss by providing a sense of security that can reduce anxiety related to being seen without it. Ultimately, hairpieces and wigs have proven themselves effective in helping people cope with the psychological effects of hair loss.
Changing one’s hairstyle can be, at least temporarily, an effective method to address the emotional and physical impact of alopecia.
Those experiencing hair loss may feel a sense of insecurity or even shame when looking in a mirror. Opting for a new hairstyle can help improve self-image by allowing them to express themselves differently and regain control over their appearance.
Furthermore, changing one’s hairstyle can allow individuals with hair loss to experiment with different looks that will complement their face shape and personal style. This process of experimentation can be therapeutic because it allows individuals to take ownership of how they look and helps them feel more confident about their appearance as they cope with hair loss.
Seek remedies and effective treatments
Experimenting with different treatments and remedies can be beneficial for those dealing with the repercussions of hair loss.
By exploring various treatment options that may help reduce or reverse hair loss, individuals can take an active role in their recovery process and potentially experience improved mental health outcomes.
Treatments for hair loss range from topical treatments to oral medications to surgical procedures.
Topical treatments like Minoxidil can help promote new hair growth, while oral medications like Finasteride are designed to block the hormones responsible for causing hair thinning and baldness.
There are also solutions like PRP (platelet-rich plasma) therapy for hair loss, which is based on a person’s own blood to treat their scalp.
Hair Loss Treatment Options
Hair loss, which affects almost 50% of men at some point and even a third of women, can significantly affect an individual’s emotional well-being, including feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem. There are several treatment options, all with the goal of improving the quality of life in patients.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
Renew MD Wellness provides one of the tested methods for treating baldness, called Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy. This therapeutic treatment uses your blood to stimulate hair follicles to grow thicker, denser strands. PRP therapy has been in use since the 1980s for problems such as healing injured tendons, ligaments, and muscles. This approach is combined with other hair loss procedures or medications, which can include minoxidil (Rogaine), finasteride (Propecia), and dutasteride (Avodart).
Herbal Remedies & Supplements
Many herbal remedies, such as saw palmetto extract, have been suggested for treating various types of alopecia; however, more research needs to be done in order to prove their effectiveness. Additionally, supplements like biotin or fish oil could be beneficial for improving overall hair health since these contain essential fatty acids the body needs.
Renew MD Wellness can Help with Hair Loss
Any of the types of hair loss, whether androgenetic alopecia or hair loss from medication or cancer treatments, can have a profound psychological impact on an individual, leading to feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem. It is important to recognize the emotional toll hair loss can have and seek professional help if needed.
Renew MD Wellness offers treatment options that may be able to provide relief from hair loss and its associated effects. From PRP therapy to medications, their team of experienced professionals may be able to provide a solution for you.
With proper care and support, it is possible to cope with hair loss in a healthy way.