Even though hair loss is mostly considered a cosmetic issue, its effects can be life-altering. That’s why it’s important to know exactly how hair loss affects self-esteem.
Hair loss or alopecia can have a profound effect on a person’s social, personal and professional life. Therefore, it’s more than about “just hair.”
Many people dismiss this problem, thinking that caring about one’s hair is vain. In reality, this isn’t fair to someone who is actually going through it.
Here, we’ll go over different ways in which hair loss can affect the psychological well-being of an individual, including their self-esteem.
What Is The Psychological Impact of Hair Loss?
Several psychological issues can be caused by hair loss, including:
- Suicidal ideation
- Paranoid disorders
- Negative body image
- Low self-esteem
- Social withdrawal
- Diminished productivity
- Feelings of helplessness
- Sex avoidance
Psychological changes can also spur unhealthy behaviours like overeating.
Feeling less attractive, those with alopecia may avoid different social activities due to the fear of being ridiculed or rejected. That can also lead to a feeling of loneliness.
Different researches show that some individuals experience a level of distress from alopecia similar to that caused by severe, chronic, and life-threatening diseases.
Here, you should also keep in mind that hair loss can result in more hair loss because of the stress from it. Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss that results from stress, and it can trap you in a vicious cycle.
How Hair Loss Affects Self-Esteem?
By making you feel less desirable to yourself and others, hair loss can have a negative effect on your self-esteem. Let’s take a closer look at it:
Negative Body Image
Since having hair is considered a sign of health, youth and beauty, not having it can make you feel quite less attractive. You might develop a negative body image, which can affect your self-confidence and self-esteem.
For instance, in women, there’s a premium put on physical beauty. And a big part of it is hair. So, not having that hair can make a woman feel less feminine.
And while men don’t talk about it as much, it also affects their self-image.
However, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, hair loss does affect women more than men.
It may be because of the stringent beauty standards (the so-called “feminine beauty ideal”) that put more pressure on women to look a certain way.
It may not always be the case, but hair loss can have an impact on your career prospects.
When evaluating candidates, especially in jobs where physical appearance matters,
whether or not you have hair may determine whether or not you get the job.
There’s a “physical attractiveness stereotype.” So, if you’re conventionally attractive, people will assume that you have socially desirable traits. Again, that can play into your employability criteria.
Therefore, a reduction in job prospects along with the self-perception of being unattractive can result in a significant dip in your self-esteem.
Feeling Older Than You Are
Baldness is often associated with ageing. So, if you lose hair early on in life, you may be thought of as old and less virile.
And this is something that’s considered true for both men and women. Of course, this, in turn, can have a significant impact on the romantic life of an individual.
On the one hand, you might feel more hesitant about getting involved in a relationship because of your perceived unattractiveness. And on the other hand, others might not find you as attractive because of your lack of hair.
How Can You Increase Self-Esteem After Losing Hair?
There are different things that you can do to improve your self-esteem after hair loss. This can include:
- Acceptance – It’s way easier said than done. However, for you to be able to think of yourself positively, you need to accept your new reality. While it’s more than about “just hair,” you are more than your hair. And focusing on those things can help you come to terms with it.
- Talk About It & Get Professional Help – You are your worst critic, and that can skew your perception of yourself. That’s why it’s a good idea to talk to someone else and discuss how you feel about yourself. It would be even better if you get the help of a professional for this (therapist, psychiatrist).
- Become A Part Of A Support Group – Hair loss can make you quite alone and isolated. However, by joining a group of people who’re going through a similar experience as yours, you can get much-needed emotional validation. And you may be able to find different ways in which you can better manage your hair loss.
- Try Different Hairstyles – If you haven’t gone bald completely, there are different hairstyles that you can try out, such as fades and buzzcuts. Or you can also choose to shave it all off.
- Look Into Different Treatment Options – Fortunately, there are many surgical and non-surgical treatment options for hair loss. Treatments can vary depending on the cause of hair loss, so make sure to consult your doctor.
In any case, it’s important to have a healthy lifestyle. It’s easy to fall into bad habits when you’re not feeling like yourself.
But you need to make sure that you’re staying physically active, eating healthy, sleeping well, and looking for ways to manage and reduce stress.
Will Hair Loss Treatment Help You Gain Self-Esteem?
Effective hair loss treatments can help improve your psychological well-being, including your self-esteem. For example, a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology showed that after having a hair transplant surgery, patients feel less anxious, lonely and sad than before the surgery.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that certain hair loss drugs can also have a negative impact on your mental health.
For instance, finasteride, a very popular medication for androgenetic alopecia, can reportedly cause depression and even suicidal thoughts. The FDA has also received reports of deaths in individuals who were on this medication.
For this reason, it’s extremely important that before you decide on any hair loss treatment, consult a licensed and board-certified medical professional.
Hair is a very important part of our identity. It’s definitely more than just strings of dead cells. It has cultural and societal importance. And not having it or losing is more than unsettling.
Not only you might think less of yourself, but others might too. And it can have consequences for your personal and professional life.
Fortunately, there are different options for hair loss. They can help you grow some of your back. That can, in turn, improve your mental health.
In any case, it’s important that you seek the help of a professional.