How Can Alopecia Affect Your Mental Health?

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Dealing With Anxiety As You Lose Your Hair

Anxiety and social adjustments are common side effects following a diagnosis of alopecia.

Alopecia affects around 15 out of every 10,000 people in the UK. But it is US TV star Ricki Lake who is the latest celebrity to share her experience of this condition over the past 30 years! She has shared pictures of herself with a shaved head on social media, and opened up about her diagnosis with alopecia which she describes as being “debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, lonely, all the things”.

Other celebrities who have openly discussed their experience of alopecia include Gail Porter, Matt Lucas, Viola Davis and Tyra Banks, which can be helpful for non-famous people to relate to when they’re also managing hair loss conditions.

Increased Risk of Anxiety

One of the most common associations for those with alopecia, is the feeling of anxiety that it can trigger. Even with alopecia areata which is considered to be the mildest form of the condition, mood changes, personality disorders, self-harm and even suicidal thoughts can all be attributed to this lifechanging hair loss condition.

Dr. Singh of the MyHealthCare Clinic found that patients with alopecia areata were more likely to experience a poor quality of life, with 62% diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder and high levels of depression or anxiety found in around 50%. The condition can have a significant impact on daily or social activities and careers too.

Taking It Slowly

When a person is initially diagnosed with alopecia, they may require a long adjustment period as they come to terms with their hair loss and what it means to their identity or lifestyle. Some people will become quite insular and want to avoid certain social events or circles, as they may feel self-conscious about the possibility of people staring at them or wanting to pry about their condition.

It’s normal too to be concerned about protecting the rest of the hair, so some people will go to extreme lengths not to use any products that may cause further loss.

Affecting Social Relationships

Some people with alopecia find that it impacts directly upon their existing relationships with a partner or close family members. The feeling of no longer being attractive to their partner is a common worry for some, but it’s important to stay communicative as this is unlikely to be true and your partner may feel shut out if you don’t open up to them about your feelings.

Coping Mechanisms

Resources such as Alopecia UK provide a fantastic network of support and are open to those who have vast experience with alopecia, as well as those who have recently been diagnosed. You’ll find a range of coping mechanisms exist including cognitive behavioural therapy which helps you explore the beliefs you have about alopecia and how it has affected you. When dealing with appearance, some wish to embrace their condition by proudly showing their bald spots or shaving their heads completely. Others prefer to invest in wigs for alopecia which are made from real hair and therefore look and feel entirely authentic. These are a great way for a person with this condition to feel connected to how they looked pre-diagnosis.

If you have recently been diagnosed with alopecia, then it’s important not to panic. Remember that this isn’t a life-threatening condition and one that you can manage the symptoms of so long as you’re willing to reach out to the support systems available!

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