Alopecia, another name for hair loss, is a common condition that affects up to half of all men and women at some point in their lives. Scarring alopecia and non-scarring alopecia are the two major categories that experts can use to describe hair loss.
Hair loss can occur everywhere in a person, but the scalp is the area most usually affected. The presence of a substantial amount of scalp hair is significant in both society and culture. Psychological anguish is a common reaction to the thinning or loss of scalp, brows, and eyelashes.
Hair on the scalp carries a great deal of symbolic meaning, and the term “healthy hair” is commonly connected with positive stereotypes of attractiveness, charisma, sophistication, and authority. In addition, the way that one wears their hair can reveal a great deal about their heritage and the group to which they belong socially.
The primary triggers of hair loss vary depending on whether the condition generates scarring or does not cause scarring, as well as whether the hair thinning is diffuse or focal. Scarring alopecia is uncommon and can be brought on by an accident, an infection, or inflammatory skin conditions, including lichen planopilaris, discoid lupus erythematosus, or folliculitis decalvans.
Tinea capitis, an infection of the scalp caused by fungi, or alopecia areata, are the conditions that most commonly lead to non-scarring localized alopecia (an autoimmune disorder). Hair loss, typically caused by stress-induced hair thinning (telogen effluvium), or is related to genetically established female or male baldness, can sometimes be followed by diffuse hair loss. Alopecia areata, the use of certain drugs, and various systemic disorders such as hyperandrogenism, anemia, and thyroid condition are some of the other potential causes of diffuse hair loss.
Psychiatric conditions, including endogenous depression and acute anxiety, have also been suggested as potential sources of diffuse hair loss. Embarrassment, shame, low self-esteem, impaired body, self-image, and less engaging social contacts are common psychosocial impacts that can significantly impact a person’s life. This effect has been proven to result in a reduction in recreational and outdoor interests and a reduction in social contacts to avoid negative thoughts.
These severe psychosocial repercussions can result in significant emotional distress, as well as problems in one’s personal life, social life, and in one’s professional life. Hair loss has been linked to several mental health conditions, including antisocial personality syndrome, posttraumatic stress abnormality, major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, adjustment disorders, panic disorder, and social nervousness. Sometimes it might even drive someone to have suicidal thoughts.
At various periods, the illness burden of hair thinning has been linked to the pain caused by severe or life-threatening conditions. Several scientific studies shed light on the significant effects that thinning hair can have on a person’s overall quality of life. For instance, a research project conducted in India in 2019 analyzed the life quality in 200 males who were having moderate baldness and concluded that baldness drastically diminished it.
The findings depended on the subjects’ ages, with younger people reporting a more significant decline in their quality of life. These results are consistent with the information found in the past.
Few studies have been conducted on the psychological issues related to hair loss. The research demonstrates that losing one’s hair can be detrimental to one’s mental health, resulting in severe emotional anguish and frequently leading to difficulties in one’s personal, social, and professional life. People going through a significant amount of hair thinning are more prone to experience psychological stress than those who only go through a minor amount of hair loss.
The thinning of a person’s hair can significantly alter their appearance, most noticeably when it impacts the eyebrows and eyelashes because these hairs help characterize a person’s appearance. Hair loss can be interpreted as an inability to comply with society’s expectations of one’s outward appearance.
The connection between hair thinning and the psychological repercussions of that loss can result from a stressful situation or life occurrence, contributing to additional discomfort, anxiety, and despair. Compared to women who don’t report significant stress levels, women with hair loss are 11 times more likely to result from stress.
People who suffer from hair loss have a higher risk of developing psychiatric problems, such as major depressive episodes, anxiety disorders, social phobias, or paranoid abnormalities, compared to the overall population.
Hair loss has been linked to mental health issues such as sadness, anxiety, and social nervousness. Depression can cause a person to have a bad mood, lose enthusiasm or delight in activities, experience a decrease in energy, and have trouble sleeping.
Anxiety can result in excessive worrying, trouble controlling one’s emotions, and a sense of increased tension in one’s body. Patients could also note that they are sweating excessively and having heart palpitations. Anxiety symptoms can rise to avoidance behaviors like social phobia, which can have negative social and economic consequences.
Social phobia disorder is defined by a fear of being humiliated or poorly judged in social interactions and avoiding these social or professional situations. Experiencing any of these signs can devastate a person’s happiness, productivity, and mental health.
Treatment for anxiety and sadness brought on by hair loss can include cognitive behavioral therapy, participation in support clubs, and the use of medication like antidepressants, among other options.
People experiencing hair loss should seek psychological counseling, but the way most effective is not known for sure and will vary from case to patient. Throughout the research, less attention has been paid to particular psychological therapy procedures than more general concerns for living with hair loss.
Hair loss, irrespective of the individual experiencing it or their gender, can be a traumatic experience. It can potentially lower a person’s self-esteem and negatively impact the overall quality of life.