Hair Loss – And Its Effects On Mental Health

Hair Loss – And Its Effects On Mental Health

The loss of hair at any age can result in a person feeling physically and socially less attractive, less virile, and less likeable which can quickly lead to low self-esteem.

The psychological stress can be huge for both men and women. For women “good hair” is seen as their crowning glory, something to be proud of and it adds to their femininity and attractiveness. Whilst men believe a full head of hair adds to their virility and attractiveness.

Hair loss for any sex can make the sufferer feel sad and dejected and these emotions are sometimes so overwhelming that they starts affecting the person's daily routine. In some cases it may lead to the sufferer limiting social activities, avoiding family occasions, and spending enormous amount of time and money on hair grooming. 

Studies show that around 40% of people with hair loss have had marital problems and around 63% claimed to have career-related issues.  

Some of the symptoms of associated psychological problems with hair loss are anxiety, anger, depression, embarrassment, decreased confidence, reduction in work and sexual performance, social withdrawal, and suicidal tendencies. These are similar to those usually seen with chronic and severe life-threatening diseases. So hair loss in a huge issue for the sufferer. 



Can stress cause hair loss?

Stress and hair loss can be related. 

Three types of hair loss can be associated with high stress levels:

Telogen effluvium. In telogen effluvium significant stress pushes large numbers of hair follicles into a resting phase. Within a few months, affected hairs might fall out suddenly when simply combing or washing your hair.

Trichotillomania. Trichotillomania is an irresistible urge to pull out hair from your scalp. Hair pulling can be a way of dealing with negative or uncomfortable feelings, such as stress, tension, loneliness, boredom or frustration. 

Alopecia areata. A variety of factors are thought to cause alopecia areata possibly including severe stress. With alopecia areata, the body's immune system attacks the hair follicles  causing hair loss.

Stress and hair loss don't have to be permanent. And if you get your stress under control, your hair may grow back.

If you notice sudden or patchy hair loss or more than usual hair loss when combing or washing your hair, talk to your doctor. Sudden hair loss can signal an underlying medical condition that requires treatment. If needed, your doctor might also suggest treatment options for your hair loss.



Tips to help reduce hair loss?

  • Wash and condition your hair without traumatising it. Hair that’s thinning or falling out is fragile and easily damaged.
  • Use a gentle shampoo. Some shampoos can strip the moisture from your hair.
  • Apply a moisturising conditioner after every shampoo. Conditioner coats your hairs individual strands, which reduces breakage and split ends.
  • Brush or comb your hair gently and only enough to style it. Tugging on your hair while brushing or combing it can lead to hair loss.
  • Stop hot-oil treatments. These heat up the hair, which further damages it.
  • Stop home colouring, perming, chemical straightening and relaxing. If you must have any of these treatments, they should be carried out by a hair care professional.
  • Limit your use of curling irons, flat irons, and hot combs as these heat up your hair, which can weaken it.
  • If you blow dry your hair use the lowest heat setting on your blow-dryer. When possible, let your hair dry naturally rather than using a blow-dryer.
  • Stop wearing your hair tightly pulled back in a bun, ponytail, pigtails, cornrows, or braids. A hairstyle that pulls on your hair can cause a type of hair loss called traction alopecia. In time, anything that pulls on your hair can cause permanent hair loss.
  • If you smoke, consider stopping. Smoking causes inflammation throughout the body, which can worsen hair loss. 
  • Eat healthy. If you’re not getting enough of some nutrients, such as iron or protein, this can lead to hair loss.
  • Eating too few calories every day can also cause significant hair loss.
  • Before taking a supplement to grow your hair, find out whether you’re getting enough of certain vitamins or minerals.

There are no hard and fast rules or a “cure all” to treat hair loss but there are things that can be done to help with both hair loss and the negative effects it can have on  your mental health.

FIT Lab - 2023 

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American Academy of Dermatology

National Library of Medicine

Daniel K. Hall-Flavin M.D

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