The mental effects of baldness

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Recent reports state that over 50% of men over 50 will experience some kind of baldness. That equates to over 6.5 million men in the UK. So why, in 2022, is there still a stigma attached to baldness and why are we not fully recognising the affect that this has on the mental health of the those suffering baldness?

A recent study by scientists form Harvard University suggested that as many as one in six people would be uncomfortable with someone with alopecia. Furthermore, 6.2% of people within the study stated that they would be uncomfortable hiring someone with alopecia for a job. The researchers wrote ‘Patients with the most severe hair loss were thought to be sick (29.8%), not attractive (27.2%), contagious (9.9%), unintelligent (3.9%), and dirty (3.9%)’.

Women and men both face pressure to conform to what we see in the media, and unfortunately images of physical perfection do not often include a person that is balding. Despite there being a number of bald male celebrities, hair loss is still considered unappealing and with the growth of procedures such as hair replacement therapy, this further reinforces the notion that hair loss is a problem to be solved and not a natural occurrence.

There is a limited amount of research into hairloss and related mental health problems, but the evidence that is available confirms that hairloss is psychologically damaging and can cause severe emotional suffering. The impact of hairloss can also affect the sufferer’s personal, social and work lives. Losing your hair means that you lose the way that you look, which is a significant matter to deal with mentally. Furthermore, if losing hair is related to a stressful experience or life event, the psychological effects are increased and cause even more distress. Women in particular, are 11 times more likely to experience hair loss if they have high levels of stress. Compared to the general population, those with hairloss have been reported to have an increased chance of depression, anxiety, social phobia or a paranoid disorder.

Unfortunately there are no magic solutions to reverse hairloss, therefore managing your hairloss is ultimately about managing your confidence and acceptance of the change. Anxiety and depression can be treated with the use of medication, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), support groups or counselling, or a combination of methods. If you are affected by hairloss, it is important to seek mental health treatment and to talk to others who have experienced the same feelings.

ScalPerfections owner and SMP technician Grant Emerson, has first-hand experience of hair loss and the effect that it had on him. “From my early twenties I suffered from male pattern baldness, which had a significant impact on my confidence and self-esteem,” said Grant. “Over the years I experimented with various products and treatments such as hair growth stimulation, caffeine shampoos and minoxidil treatments. Unfortunately, none of these treatments gave me the desired effect I wanted; hair regrowth and to prevent further hair loss. As my late twenties approached, I was on the verge of giving up. My hairline was no longer visible, and my confidence had deteriorated.”

After lots of research, Grant chose to have Scalp Micropigmentation treatment, giving him a shaved head with stubble look. The result was that he regained his confidence and felt that he not only looked but felt younger too. Having also worked in the mental health sector before becoming a micropigmentation technician, Grant has an intimate understanding of mental health issues and ways in which to help those that are suffering.

If you are affected by hairloss and would like a chat about treatment options, or just to speak to someone with a similar experience, please get in touch.

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