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How hair loss can impact your mental health

This condition can have a significant impact on your emotional well-being. Here’s how to navigate it.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jan 2, 2024 • 11 min read
Medically reviewed by Jessica Mefford, NP
Hair Loss
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jan 2, 2024 • 11 min read
Medically reviewed by Jessica Mefford, NP
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

In this article

Understanding hair loss 
More

Androgenetic alopecia, a common hair loss condition impacting up to 50% of men and women,¹ can have emotional consequences beyond its physical implications. 

Here we’ll explore the different ways in which hair loss can influence your mental health and well-being, to help you better navigate the emotional repercussions that can accompany this common condition. 

Understanding hair loss 

Are you wondering why your hair is falling out? It’s a common concern, and the reasons for it can be varied. 

The most prevalent type of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia. This condition, affecting 80% of men and 50% of women, is largely influenced by your genes and often becomes more apparent as you age.² Your nutrition also plays a significant role in the health of your hair. If you’re not getting enough essential vitamins and minerals or your diet changes suddenly, you might notice your hair thinning. Interestingly, both a deficiency and an excess of Vitamin A can lead to hair loss.³

Aside from genetics and nutrition, you may lose hair due to underlying health conditions. A condition called telogen effluvium can cause your hair to fall out due to physiological stressors like illness or major changes in your diet.⁴ Your immune system might also be a factor. Conditions like alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder, and primary cicatricial alopecia involve hair loss mediated by your body's immune response.⁵

Medications could be another culprit. Certain drugs can lead to hair loss, known as drug-induced alopecia, but it usually improves once you stop taking the medication. Infections and systemic diseases are also potential reasons for hair loss.⁶

Hair loss isn’t harmful in of itself, but can significantly affect your mental well-being. The impact on your self-esteem and anxiety over hair loss is something to take seriously. Understanding the reasons behind your hair loss is the first step towards effective treatment and coping strategies.

Hair loss and your mental health 

Dealing with hair loss, especially something like androgenetic alopecia, isn’t just a physical phenomenon. It often hits hard on the emotional side, too.⁷ 

Ever find yourself feeling a bit down or shy because of your hair? That’s pretty normal! Our hair is a big part of who we are, and losing it can influence how attractive we feel, knocking our confidence a bit.⁸ And it’s not just about looking in the mirror—it can make us want to skip out on hanging out with friends or trying new things because we’re worried about what others think. 

Have you ever caught yourself spending a lot of time or money on hair care products, trying to fix it? You’re not alone. Many people who suffer from hair loss find themselves in the same boat.⁹

Acknowledging and understanding this impact and seeking proper support can be the first step toward managing hair loss and maintaining a healthy state of mind.

Let’s dive into what research says about how hair loss can impact our mental well-being. It can be quite eye-opening to see how much our hair and our emotions are connected!

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

If you’re grappling with hair loss, you might be at risk of developing Body Dysmorphic Disorder. This is a condition where you might obsess over perceived flaws in your appearance, including hair loss. BDD can be deeply distressing and severely impact your daily life and functioning.¹⁰

Anxiety and depression

Hair loss can act as a significant trigger for anxiety and depression.¹¹ The emotional burden of losing hair can be as profound as experiencing chronic and severe life-threatening diseases, leading to feelings of hopelessness. In extreme cases, the distress caused by hair loss can escalate to suicidal thoughts. This highlights the need for psychological support and intervention for those severely affected by hair loss.¹²

Impact on work and sexual performance

One of the less discussed but equally essential impacts of hair loss is on confidence, which can extend to your professional and intimate life. There’s often a notable decrease in self-esteem, which can affect your performance at work and in sexual relationships.¹³

Psychological impact on children

The emotional effect of hair loss isn’t limited to adults. Children with alopecia areata, for instance, often exhibit more psychological problems than their peers.¹⁴ They may be more anxious, depressed, withdrawn, aggressive, or even delinquent. Girls, in particular, tend to be more affected than boys. In some studies, a significant number of children with alopecia areata met the criteria for anxiety disorders.¹⁵

What to do if you’re distressed: Hair loss and self-acceptance 

Is hair loss getting you down? There are some positive steps you can take. Let’s talk about boosting that confidence back up!

Always remember, you’re not alone in this.

Seek supportive communities

Joining support groups where others with alopecia share their experiences can be incredibly beneficial.¹⁶ These groups provide a sense of community and understanding, helping to reduce feelings of isolation, embarrassment, and anxiety. They often feature healthcare professionals as guest speakers, offering valuable insights and advice.¹⁷

Educate yourself

It is important to understand how hair loss can impact your mental health.¹⁸ Educating yourself about alopecia and its psychological impacts can help you come to terms with your situation. This could include exploring options like wigs if you desire a change.

Professional psychological support

In severe cases of alopecia, where the psychological impact is profound, seeking help from clinical psychology or psychiatric services is recommended. Professionals in these fields can assist in developing coping strategies to deal with the emotional and psychological consequences of hair loss.¹⁹ 

Studies have shown that patients receiving psychological support during their hair loss treatment often have an improved prognosis. This support can be an integral part of the treatment process, addressing the physical and mental aspects of hair loss.²⁰

Remember, taking these steps is not just about dealing with hair loss—it’s about taking care of your overall mental and emotional health.

Resources for help with your mental health 

If you’re seeking mental health support, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed or distressed, there are several resources available to you:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24/7 Availability): Dial 988 for immediate support if you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts or severe distress. This helpline provides confidential support from trained counselors.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (24/7 Availability): Call 1-800-662-4357 for help with substance abuse or mental health issues. This service offers guidance and referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Crisis Text Line (24/7 Availability): Text 741741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor who can support and assist in times of emotional crisis or distress.

Mental Health America: This organization offers a wealth of information and resources on mental health, including tools for finding local mental health professionals and support groups.

Digital Mental Health Resources: Apps like Happify or Talkspace offer convenient and accessible ways to manage your mental health, including online therapy sessions and self-help tools.

Remember, these resources are primarily available in the United States. If you’re located in another country, it’s advisable to search online or in local directories for similar resources available in your region. 

Seeking help is a sign of strength, and these resources can be a valuable first step toward managing your mental health.

The key takeaways

  • Hair loss significantly impacts your mental health, leading to conditions like anxiety, depression, and even body dysmorphic disorder.

  • Hair loss can affect your self-esteem, leading to social withdrawal and difficulties in professional environments.

  • For severe psychological impacts due to hair loss, it's important to seek help from mental health professionals who can provide coping strategies and support.

  • Joining support groups for individuals with alopecia can be beneficial, reducing feelings of isolation and offering a platform for shared experiences.

  • Patients receiving psychological support during hair loss treatment often see improved outcomes, highlighting the importance of addressing mental health in conjunction with physical treatment.

  • A well-balanced diet rich in essential nutrients like iron, zinc, and protein is crucial for maintaining healthy hair. Additionally, natural treatments such as azelaic acid, pumpkin seed oil, and rosemary oil show promise in hair loss treatment, emphasizing the role of holistic approaches in hair care.

  • Curology can help treat hair loss! Hair FormulaRx is a personalized daily treatment with prescription ingredients that can help you grow visibly thicker, fuller hair if you’re experiencing alopecia.

Treat your hair loss with Curology

Hair loss can have a significant impact on your mental well-being—but there are things you can do to help treat it. With Curology’s Hair Formulaᴿˣ, you can help treat hair thinning and grow visibly thicker, healthier hair. If Hair Formulaᴿˣ is right for you, a licensed medical provider will prescribe your personalized daily treatment to help improve hair loss over time. 

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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Find out if Hair Formulaᴿˣ may be suitable for your hair loss concerns by signing up today. And if you’re already a Curology member, talk to your licensed dermatology provider about how Hair FormulaRx may benefit you!

FAQs

What are the essential nutrients for maintaining healthy hair?

A well-balanced diet is one of the important factors in maintaining healthy hair. Include iron-rich foods like lean meat, beans, spinach, and iron-fortified cereals,²¹ especially if you’re premenopausal or have a history of blood loss. Zinc-rich foods such as meat, fish, seeds, and nuts²² are also beneficial. 

Adequate protein intake is crucial, as protein malnutrition can lead to hair loss. If you live in areas with limited sunlight, ensure adequate sun exposure or consider vitamin D supplements.²³

Should I be cautious about supplementing for hair growth?

Yes, you should be cautious. Before starting any supplements, consult a healthcare provider. While biotin and folic acid are often marketed for hair growth, use them only if there’s a proven deficiency.²⁴ Over-supplementing nutrients like iron, zinc, vitamin A, and selenium can lead to adverse effects, including hair loss. Excessive consumption of raw egg whites can also lead to biotin deficiency.²⁵

Can alcohol consumption affect hair health?

Yes, alcohol consumption can negatively impact hair health.²⁶ It can lead to deficiencies in essential nutrients such as folic acid, zinc, and niacin, which are important for maintaining healthy hair. Limiting alcohol intake can help preserve these vital nutrients and promote better hair health.²⁷

Are there effective natural treatments for hair loss?

Several natural treatments show promise for hair loss.²⁸ Azelaic acid, derived from grains, may act as an antiandrogen. Pumpkin seed oil has been shown to improve androgenetic alopecia.²⁹ Rosemary oil and tea tree oil are known for their beneficial properties for hair health. Evening primrose oil and other essential oils showed significant results in alopecia areata patients. However, more research is needed for conclusive evidence.³⁰

Is professional guidance necessary for treating hair loss and mental health?

It’s important to seek professional guidance rather than self-medicating with over-the-counter supplements for hair loss. A healthcare professional can provide tailored advice and treatment options based on your specific condition and needs, ensuring a more effective and safer approach to managing your hair loss and mental health.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. Ho, C.H., et al. Androgenetic Alopecia. StatPearls. (2022, October 16).

  2. Gokce, N., et al. An overview of the genetic aspects of hair loss and its connection with nutrition. J Prev Med Hyg. (2022, October 17).

  3. Gokce, N., et al. An overview of the genetic aspects of hair loss and its connection with nutrition. J Prev Med Hyg. Ibid.

  4. Gokce, N., et al. An overview of the genetic aspects of hair loss and its connection with nutrition. J Prev Med Hyg. Ibid.

  5. Gokce, N., et al. An overview of the genetic aspects of hair loss and its connection with nutrition. J Prev Med Hyg. Ibid.

  6. Gokce, N., et al. An overview of the genetic aspects of hair loss and its connection with nutrition. J Prev Med Hyg. Ibid.

  7. Dhami, L. Psychology of Hair Loss Patients and Importance of Counseling. Indian J Plast Surg. (2021, December 31).

  8. Dhami, L. Psychology of Hair Loss Patients and Importance of Counseling. Indian J Plast Surg. Ibid.

  9. Dhami, L. Psychology of Hair Loss Patients and Importance of Counseling. Indian J Plast Surg. Ibid.

  10. Dhami, L. Psychology of Hair Loss Patients and Importance of Counseling. Indian J Plast Surg. Ibid.

  11. Dhami, L. Psychology of Hair Loss Patients and Importance of Counseling. Indian J Plast Surg. Ibid.

  12. Dhami, L. Psychology of Hair Loss Patients and Importance of Counseling. Indian J Plast Surg. Ibid.

  13. Dhami, L. Psychology of Hair Loss Patients and Importance of Counseling. Indian J Plast Surg. Ibid.

  14. Hunt, N. and McHale, S. The psychological impact of alopecia. BMJ. (2005, October 22).

  15. Hunt, N. and McHale, S. The psychological impact of alopecia. BMJ. Ibid.

  16. Hunt, N. and McHale, S. The psychological impact of alopecia. BMJ. Ibid.

  17. Hunt, N. and McHale, S. The psychological impact of alopecia. BMJ. Ibid.

  18. Hunt, N. and McHale, S. The psychological impact of alopecia. BMJ. Ibid.

  19. Hunt, N. and McHale, S. The psychological impact of alopecia. BMJ. Ibid.

  20. Forneris Crego, A.L., et al. A catena between psychiatric disorders and non-scarring alopecias-A systematic review. Skin Health Dis. (2022, November 25).

  21. Office of Dietary Supplements. Iron. National Institutes of Health. (2023, June 15).

  22. Office of Dietary Supplements. Zinc. National Institutes of Health.(2022, September 28).

  23. Guo, E.L. and Katta, R. Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Dermatol Pract Concept. (2017, January 31).

  24. Guo, E.L. and Katta, R. Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Dermatol Pract Concept. Ibid.

  25. Guo, E.L. and Katta, R. Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Dermatol Pract Concept. Ibid.

  26. Guo, E.L. and Katta, R. Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Dermatol Pract Concept. Ibid.

  27. Guo, E.L. and Katta, R. Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Dermatol Pract Concept. Ibid.

  28. Ezekwe, N. et al. The Use of Natural Ingredients in the Treatment of Alopecias with an Emphasis on Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia: A Systematic Review. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (2020, August 1).

  29. Ezekwe, N. et al. The Use of Natural Ingredients in the Treatment of Alopecias with an Emphasis on Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia: A Systematic Review. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid.

  30. Ezekwe, N. et al. The Use of Natural Ingredients in the Treatment of Alopecias with an Emphasis on Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia: A Systematic Review. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid.

Jessica Lee is a certified Nurse Practitioner at Curology. She received her Master in Nursing from Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, CA.

*Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Restrictions apply. See website for full details and important safety information. Active ingredients have been studied separately. Results may vary.

Here at Curology, we currently focus on the diagnosis and treatment of acne, rosacea, and anti-aging concerns. We do not treat many of the conditions mentioned in this article. This article is for information purposes.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
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