Many men dealing with hair loss admit they never really appreciated just how much a full head of hair meant until their hairlines began to recede. As the saying goes, ‘you don’t know what you had until you lose it’… or in this case, until you start losing it.
While some men seem to transition smoothly from thick, lustrous hair to none at all, it can be extremely distressing for others. It has been known to have adverse negative effects on confidence, self-image, and even performance at work.
What can one do to deal with the anxiety that slowly but surely creeps in as hair creeps out?
Before we look at how to deal with this stress, let’s dig deeper to find out exactly why this anxiety can become as crippling as it often does.
Understanding anxiety from hair loss
Whether you have experienced it or not, the exact reasons connecting hair loss and subsequent anxiety may be blurry. You know that progressive hair loss is making you feel terrible but can’t quite put a finger on why it has such an overwhelming effect on your emotions.
According to experts, we can pin it on our culture and a loss of identity.
Culture: Today’s society associates hair with attractiveness, youth, health, and vitality. When you start to lose hair, it is devastating because it signals an end to these valued traits.
Loss of identity: A key part of your identity is your appearance. Just like your name, and perhaps outstanding physical characteristics. It defines you. If you have always had thick brown hair, anyone looking for the brunette guy will be pointed in your direction. When you start going bald, that identity changes.
Hair loss, especially balding, is so devastating because it changes how you look; to an extent that it seems like you don’t recognize the man looking back at you in the mirror.
Add to this the sense of powerlessness. For men who have grown accustomed to taking control of every challenge they face, hair loss can be disorienting.
A few quotes from men
“Losing hair was like being forced to wear clothes you wouldn’t be caught dead in.”
“I had days when it was the only thing on my mind. When in crowded places, I felt like I was the center of attention.”
“Men with a full thatch may think the struggle is self-absorbed and vain, but hair loss is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.”
These are just a few heartfelt sentiments from men who confirm that stress from hair loss can indeed be a serious struggle.
How to cope with anxiety caused by hair loss
The first and most important part of dealing with this kind of anxiety is to refuse to surrender to it. Whatever you do, make sure that you are doing something about it, and not just watching as more and more of your scalp becomes exposed.
Here are a few ways to go about it.
– See a physician. As soon as you notice definite hair loss, start by scheduling an appointment with a physician. They should do some basic blood work to determine if nutrient deficiencies could be behind your hair loss. Once this possibility is eliminated, you can be sure yours is purely male pattern baldness and not anything else.
– Educate yourself. There are many ways to deal with hair loss. From hair transplants, scalp micropigmentation, and hair growth medications. Seek credible, reputable sources of information which will arm you with sufficient knowledge on the various options available, procedures, and costs involved.
Even if all you are doing is reading about what you can do, the fact that you are taking action helps to alleviate stress and reduces related anxiety.
– Seek professional help. If the anxiety is so much that it interferes with your ability to go about your daily life, there is no shame in seeking the services of a psychiatrist or therapist. These are professionals who can help you come up with personalized coping mechanisms.
– As much as losing hair may change your appearance, you need to keep reminding yourself that the people in your life who really matter really don’t care that you look different. Family and friends who care about you won’t stop caring because you no longer have as much hair as you used to.
– It could be worse. Another point to be grateful for is that hair loss is in no way life-threatening. Lots of people are silently battling life-threatening conditions and sometimes enduring significant physical pain. Hair loss poses no direct threat to health or wellness.
– You are not alone. A comforting point to remember is that dealing with hair loss is not a unique problem. In fact, it is very common. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the prevalence of male pattern baldness is surprisingly high.
16% of men aged between 18 and 29 years are likely to suffer hair loss. This figure goes up to 53% for men aged between 40 and 49 years. This essentially means that more than half of men around the world experience male pattern baldness.
London-based mental health practitioner Dr. Max Pemberton puts it best when he says that society is yet to fully grasp just how stressful hair loss can be for men. It doesn’t matter how many times they are reminded that there are lots of very attractive bald men. It is still associated with a loss of masculinity and virility.
On top of that, we cannot deny that thinning hair or a receding hairline makes men look older. Sometimes older than they really are.
Whatever your hair loss situation, it is a journey that must be taken. If the stress becomes overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek help. You don’t want to end up treating hair loss and depression.