Hair loss is not just a physical issue. It can also have a significant psychological impact. This impact may be more obvious for women but the effects on men should not be underestimated. Hair loss can result in anxiety, withdrawal and depression. Considerable research has been undertaken to more clearly understand the psychological effects of hair loss. This research can help sufferers recognise the emotions they may experience. It is important that you take time to think about how the loss of your hair makes you feel as this will help you make the right treatment choice for you. The research has shown that there are several common reactions to hair loss. These include:
Hair loss in men commonly triggers masculinity issues. Hair has historically, in most cultures, been associated with strength and manliness. As hair loss can cause a drastic change in one’s appearance, it is not surprising that worrying questions arise. Will I still be attractive to others? Will I look older than I am? Will this affect my job prospects? Will my friends laugh at me? These valid concerns can result in feelings of fear and panic at the prospect of hair loss.
Some men may find it difficult to admit they are losing their hair, even to themselves. One manifestation of this is men going to great lengths to hide hair loss. A classic example of this reluctance to admit there is a problem is the comb over. It is not unheard of for a husband to keep his hair loss a secret, even from his wife. This unwillingness to come to terms with hair loss can lead to poor treatment choices.
Taunting or teasing from friends and colleagues about hair loss can lead to feelings of humiliation. How to deal with such comments can be a real problem. You may feel that if you react at all, it will show that you care about your hair and this may be perceived as vanity and result in further and more severe teasing.
The aforementioned reactions to hair loss may lead to a feeling of desperation. A desperate person may make impulsive and unwise choices.
This feeling can go hand in hand with that feeling of desperation. For example, men suffering from hair loss in several areas of their head may focus only on one area (i.e. the monk’s spot). This fixation on that one area may result in their failing to look at their hair loss holistically.
Unsurprisingly, men experiencing hair loss may be jealous of their friends who have full heads of hair.
Even though hair loss in men is very common, men report that they feel isolated and alone in the experience. Traditional models of male behaviour still deem the sharing of feelings and worries as “unmanly”. That is, being open about your feelings is perceived as a sign of weakness.
About the Author
DR Maurice Collins
MB, B.Ch, BAO, DLO, FRCSI, FRCS, FRCSEd.
Registered with the Medical Council of Ireland
Dr Collins is Medical Director and Team Principal of Hair Restoration Blackrock. He was educated at Belvedere College Dublin and did his undergraduate medical studies at University College Dublin. After graduating as a doctor he trained in General Surgery and received his Fellowship (FRCSI) in this specialty from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
Find out more about DR Maurice Collins and our team of doctors and surgeons.