Why Me? The Psychology of Hair Loss
Fix Your Hair Loss and Your Depression
How Do Men Suffer Psychologically? Depression and Hair loss Explained
Most men have similar hair loss experiences. An otherwise healthy young male is suddenly faced with a gradual yet dramatic change in his appearance for, he believes, the worse. This change is progressive and permanent. The dilemma is compounded by the fact that socially and historically it is unmanly for a male to be concerned about his appearance.
Thus conflicted, many men suffer tremendous anxiety about their hair loss. They are on one hand depressed about the appearance and stigma of baldness and on the other hand they are often ashamed to admit that the condition bothers them for fear they would be considered vain. So many men try to compensate physically, psychologically, and socially. They often manage by secretly trying to cover up their bald spots.
Many patients today confirm that they too could spend upwards of one or two hours per day trying to cover what nature was removing. Others seek hope in the opposite route. They shave it all.But nothing can help escape the fact that they are losing their hair.
How Do Women Suffer Psychologically?
In the past women often avoided discussing hair loss with anyone but their hairdressers. Because they most often suffer from a diffuse thinning, it was generally easy to disguise the problem. But women were nonetheless disturbed by it. Some woman say that they feared detection because, although it was normal for men to lose hair, female hair thinning was considered unnatural, a sign of some disease process. However, women are becoming much more open about this perfectly ordinary problem.
What Are the Psychological Phases Men and Women Experience?
When their hair begins to thin, both men and women go through the same psychological phases that follow the loss of anything or anyone dear to us (hair is certainly up there on the list). These are as follows:
Withdrawal and depression
Acceptance and resolution
Can This Really Be Happening to Me?
No one wants to believe that this is really happening to themselves. The early hair loss sufferer sees a change in his hair, the temples are receding, or the crown seems a bit thin, but he denies the obvious. He checks the shower drain, comb, or hairbrush and then looks at his scalp under the brightest and dimmest of lights. He or she carefully listens for comments from others and then reviews all available photos of themselves from second grade onward to see if it’s really true. The new sufferer studies his relatives and carefully asks questions about their hair loss, looking for discreet differences between himself and his genetics. This strategy works only for so long. Sooner or later the thinning increases or a “sensitive” friend points out his increasingly visible scalp at a social gathering. Every time he talks to someone their eyes seem to travel to his vanishing hairline.
When you begin to realize the inevitable, it’s time to go on to phase two.
Oh My God, Does This Mean I’m Old Now?
After denial there is usually panic. All the social implications of baldness start running through the sufferer’s head. To be bald you are older, boring, unmanly or unwomanly, possibly diseased, and deficient in sex appeal. There are no positive characteristics associated with baldness. The fact that more victims in our society do not go into a severe state of depression from hair loss is a great demonstration of the resiliency of the human species. But panic can cause its own set of problems.
Are You Looking at Me? Then Who Are You Looking At?
You wash your hair every day and you’re very careful about blow-drying, brushing, or otherwise damaging it – you haven’t done anything wrong. So someone else, the victim at this stage reasons, must be to blame.
No matter how angry you get, remember one thing – it’s the fault of genetics in most cases and pointing blame does not cure the problem. Although you know you want to do something about it (or you wouldn’t be angry) you will still suffer through phase three in some form before you can proceed to phase four.
Withdrawal and Depression
Will I Ever Get Another Date?
Depression often does occur at the onset of hair loss and in some cases never goes away. The image we see in the mirror can certainly affect our conduct in society. Someone has made a comment! Now you wear hats and avoid photographs. You avoid social situations because they may lead to embarrassment. So it’s time to hibernate. You find reasons not to go to the beach or swim or play in active sports where you can’t wear a hat. Sometimes you just stay home.
In other words, you are letting your hair rule – and maybe ruin – your life.
Acceptance and Resolution
Actually, Don’t You Think It Looks a Bit Sexy?
Next comes acceptance. Many men simply accept hair loss as part of the passage of life. After all, hair loss is a normal genetic trait passed on from generation to generation. There are certainly many handsome masculine individuals who have chosen to accept or simply ignore their hair loss. This is certainly the best and healthiest attitude one can take. Whether we are destined to be short or tall, handsome or homely, athletic or awkward, hairy or bald, these are all part of the genetic cards we are dealt and we should accept them.
Some men go so far as to embrace baldness. They wear it as a badge of honor, proudly proclaiming I am Bald and Proud. The Bald-Headed Men’s Club of America, in Moorehead, N.C. has members from around the world who correspond and get together to support hair loss as a mature, sexy, virile appearance that society should look upon with admiration. Most men deal with hair loss as inevitable and natural and move on with their lives and careers. Appearance is comprised of many aspects, not the least of which is our personality and intelligence. A good personality and interesting mind have more of an influence on our attractiveness than any physical characteristic.
Unfortunately not all men are created entirely equal and acceptance of the inevitable is a characteristic that varies dramatically from person to person. Hair loss is not something we are born with; it happens later in life, after we have gotten used to seeing ourselves a certain way. Our hairline is the frame of our face, and just as an attractive frame and matting compliments a picture, our hair compliments the features on our face. As with a picture, if we take away the frame, the face appears more ordinary and far less attractive.
The feeling that their appearance has suffered is a significant reason why men often do not accept baldness. Although generally a young man suffers when going bald more than a mature male in his fifties or sixties, I often meet with older men who feel their hair loss has unfairly aged them. They do not want to change their appearance but rather want to restore it to a fairer picture of who they are.
Just as hair loss is not the cause for all your problems, it is also not the cure. For individuals to succeed socially and professionally it is much more important to have personality, intelligence, and strong character than a fuller hairline. Hair can improve our appearance and self-image but only strong character and motivation can help us to succeed in life. It is important that when we look into the mirror for answers to our problems we should look deeper than the surface for the solutions.
You now know it’s true and it’s time to either accept it or do something about it.
You can shave your head as many sports figures do
You can begin to look into various treatments
But first you do what most of my patients and I have done. You consult your hairstylist.