Tag Archive for: mental health

The Impact of Hair Loss on Mental Health

Man concerned about his hair loss and how it has effected his mental health. At Happy Head, we understand that experiencing hair loss can be a struggle but our board-certified dermatologists are here to help you find a solution.

“My hair is my everything. When I started seeing it get thinner, it destroyed me. I was really nervous about taking Finasteride orally. Happy Head’s topical solution gave me my confidence back!” – Jordan

Why is losing your hair so tough psychologically? Guys aren’t supposed to care about their looks. But, the truth is that we care about our appearances just as much as women do. Not that we would ever admit it. Here’s proof, though. A survey conducted by Men’s Health magazine found that 70 percent of men believe that their physical appearance affects their overall happiness and well-being. When we look good, we feel good. When our hairline starts to look like Grandad’s, well, we stress. 

If you’ve spent more than 30 minutes trying to distinguish a cowlick from a bald patch or parted your hair three different ways before meeting your friends for a drink, this one’s for you. It’s time to get real about the impact of hair loss on your mental health and what you can do to regain your confidence. 

Hair Loss Is More Common Than You Think, Especially Among Men

Odds are that most of us will have to deal with hair loss at some point after puberty. Here are the stats according to the American Hair Loss Association. (01) 25 percent of men start losing some hair before their 21st birthday. By the age of 35, two-thirds will see some thinning or balding. By age 50, that number jumps to 85 percent. That’s just for male pattern baldness. Those numbers jump even higher once you add alopecia areata, cicatricial alopecia, and other hair loss conditions.  

Why is Hair Loss Feel Like Such a Big Deal?

Given that hair loss is almost a rite of passage for us, why does it feel like something we should hide? Why the shame? Because in our society, we view aging as a stigma. Looking, feeling, or being perceived as old is negative. I’m 53, but when I look in the mirror, I still expect to see a 25-year-old me staring back. When I see my hair thinning and shiny spots glaring at me where my thick dark curls used to be, I think “huh, who the heck is that guy?” Let’s just say that it’s not exactly an ego boost. 

Male Pattern Baldness Can Mess With Your Head

Hair loss takes us out of our comfort zone. It can trigger insecurities about our looks. It makes us think that people will judge us based on our lack of hair. We feel like we’re losing our youth and that others won’t find us attractive. Worst of all, there’s not much we can do to control our fate. As much as we want the shedding to stop, it takes time. It’s not a quick, snap-of-the-fingers proposition. It’s no wonder that men with hair loss have a higher risk of anxiety and depression compared to those without any type of alopecia. (02)

How Can You Feel In Control When You’re Not?

I have some friends who proudly shave their heads and end up strutting around with the looks and bravado of Vin Diesel at the first sign of recession. The rest of us, well, we don’t fare quite as well. With my luck, shaving my head would leave me looking more like an eraser cap than the Rock. Not to mention that I might pass out the minute I hear the buzzer near my head. So what else can we do to feel like we’re in control of our thinning hair when in reality we aren’t? 

First, Stop Stressing

Sure, staying calm is easier said than done, especially when you’re staring down at a shower floor covered in your precious strands. Fretting won’t help, though. Stress can actually contribute to hair loss by producing adrenaline and cortisol that can push your hair follicles into a resting phase and halt your hair’s growth. Over time, your hair can fall out more easily. Instead, try these activities to help you calm down:

Go Outside

If you’re bummed about your hair loss, grabbing your sneakers and getting outside can help you keep your wits about you. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, participants in a study who went on a 90-minute walk reported lower levels of repetitive negative thoughts than people who walked in a city. (03) 

Hit the Gym

When you’re feeling insecure about your appearance, the last thing you may feel like doing is going to the gym. Here’s a good reason to grab your bag and go anyways. A study conducted by the University of Maryland School of Public Health found that exercise helps you better manage stressful situations immediately after and for an extended time after your workout. (04) Exercise can actually buffer the negative effects of emotional events. 

Write it Down

Many of us go through a grieving process when we lose our hair. After all, we’re losing a part of our image and identity. It makes sense. So how can we get out of our heads and into a better emotional space? Make a list to help you keep perspective. Make one column to write down the negative stuff you tell yourself. Write down alternative things you could say in a column next to it. When you see how you’re beating yourself up, you’ll realize it’s time to think differently. 

Get Your Zzzzs

When you’re tired, the parts of your brain that contribute to excessive worrying and anxiety go into overdrive. A good night’s sleep helps you stay calmer so you can put your hair loss into perspective. 

Take a Deep Breath

You may not be able to control your genetic predisposition to hair loss, but you can control your breathing. And, when you feel in control of even one thing, it can help you feel better overall. Try deep, controlled, slow breathing to relax the physiological symptoms of stress.  

Play With Your Pet

Did you know that petting a dog can lower your cortisol (a stress hormone) and increase oxytocin, the feel-good hormone? It’s true. When 84 percent of patients experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder were paired with service dogs, not only did they report a significant reduction in symptoms. Forty percent were able to decrease their medications. (05)

Have a Jam Session

Ever hear of the Mozart effect? It’s real. Although scientists don’t understand why, music has been proven to help reduce anxiety and depression. (06) So, the next time you feel down about your changing hairline, pump up the jam to help you feel calmer and more centered. 

Research Hair Loss Treatments

If you aren’t aware of the hair loss treatments that are available, getting up to speed might help you feel more in control. If your hair follicles are still viable, prescription medications have been proven to help reduce hair loss and promote growth within six months to a year. Top treatments include:

  • Minoxidil – Increases blood flow to the hair follicles to help stop shedding and stimulate hair growth.
  • Finasteride – First-line DHT blocker. DHT blockers prevent testosterone from converting to Dihydrotestosterone which is to blame for hair loss. Oral Finasteride is FDA-approved for male pattern hair loss. In one study, Finasteride stopped hair loss in 83 percent of men who took the medication. Over two years, 66 percent of men experienced growth. (07)
  • Dutasteride – A stronger DHT blocker used off-label for male pattern hair loss. Because Dutasteride blocks two enzymes, whereas Finasteride blocks one, Dutasteride is more effective for many men. (08) Dutasteride may cause more side effects, so many men opt to try Finasteride first.  

Minoxidil, Finasteride, and Dutasteride all come in both oral and topical formulas and are commonly prescribed by dermatologists. Topical Finasteride and Dutasteride have been proven to work as effectively as pills, so you can use either. (09)

Hair supplements containing biotin, keratin, saw palmetto, and vitamins like A & D3 can also help curb shedding while giving your hair a healthier appearance. The right hair loss shampoo and conditioner can help as well. 

If your dermatologist has determined that you’re not a candidate for hair loss medications, hair pieces or a permanent hair transplant may be an option. Thanks to advances in the field, both solutions can give you a natural look to help you feel ready to face the world.

Find What Works Best for You… Mentally and Aesthetically

Remember that grieving process we mentioned earlier? It really does happen when you lose your hair. It’s normal to be anxious or depressed, and it will take a minute to accept your evolving look. Taking care of yourself and exploring different treatment options are good ways to help you cope. Over time, you’ll find what works for you.

Meanwhile, Happy Head is here to help with hair loss solutions. Simply fill out a brief questionnaire and one of our board-certified dermatologists will make recommendations based on your hair loss history and goals. The process is easy, and best of all, completely private. Give Happy Head a try and get 50% off your first order with code GOHAIR at checkout. 



(01) www.americanhairloss.org

(02) www.sciencedirect.com

(03) www.pnas.org

(04) sph.umd.edu

(05) www.hopkinsmedicine.org

(06) journals.plos.org

(07) pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

(08) www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

(09) pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov


The Invisible Effects of Alopecia on Your Mental Health

Losing your hair can have serious effects on your mental health. This customer is looking at his hair in the mirror and noticing that his hair isn't as thick as it used to be, but now he's using Happy Head custom hair loss treatments to stop hair loss and gain confidence.

Although talking about mental health is more acceptable today than ever before, it’s still not the most comfortable topic of conversation. Add hair loss to the mix, and you have a double whammy. Bald spots and thinning hair may be noticeable, but the grief that many people feel when losing their hair isn’t. You’re probably not going to go up to your co-worker and say, “Hey, see my bald spot? I’m upset about losing my hair, and it’s ruining my life.” So who can you talk to, and how can you get help if you’re feeling depressed or anxious about your alopecia? Read on to learn about the of invisible effects of alopecia on your mental health and what resources are available if you’re struggling.

Understanding How Hair Loss & Mental Health are Connected

Alopecia isn’t physically harmful, but it has been proven to have immense psychological effects. A qualitative research study conducted in 2020 confirms that anxiety and depression related to alopecia are not only real, they can be debilitating for some. (01) One study participant said, “It was devastating when it first started. And when I first lost it all four years ago, I cried a lot. And it took me about two years. I really had to mourn the loss of my hair.” It’s not uncommon for people with alopecia to experience an ongoing bereavement process. (02)

The study also categorized emotions and the triggers that people with alopecia often experience:

  • Sadness and depression due to diagnosis
  • Insecurity, inadequacy, and self-consciousness when hair thins or bald spots appear
  • Helplessness, anxiety, fear and stress are often due to disease progression, recurrences, and failed treatment options

Given that hair is such a big part of our identity, it’s understandable that such strong emotions are evoked. People are often described and defined by the color or style of their hair. Before you were the perky brunette with the curly hair or the blonde dude with the buzz cut, and now you’re “the bald one.”

Why Depression and Anxiety Related to Alopecia Should be Addressed

Some people are so concerned about hiding their hair loss that they don’t want to participate in everyday activities. Work, birthday parties, happy hour, and even going to the gym can be tough.

When asked about how alopecia affects her social life, one respondent said, “Does it affect me physically? No. The ability to move around? No. To be around people? Yeah, it does. It does play a big role.” (03) Another mentioned that he missed his friend’s wedding because he was too embarrassed about the way he looked. “Once the alopecia was at its worst point that I had, I was just like, a homebody, you could say. I wouldn’t want to go out. [ …] I would avoid it. I wouldn’t go to, like, parties where you have to suit up. Yeah, I missed, like, my friend’s wedding.” Nobody chooses alopecia, and certainly nobody chooses to be debilitated by it. What’s the solution? Awareness and support.

How to Identify Whether Your Emotions are Manageable

The first step in getting help for anxiety and depression stemming from hair loss is being aware of your feelings. Everyone gets stressed out from time to time, and it’s only normal to be upset about losing your hair. After all, that’s a pretty significant change. How do you know if the amount of anxiety you’re feeling about your alopecia is appropriate?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Anxiety disorders involve more than a temporary worry or fear. For people with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can worsen over time.” (04)

Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression Caused by Hair Loss

Androgenic alopecia, alopecia areata, or even telogen effluvium can trigger depression, general anxiety, and other mental health disorders in predisposed individuals. Although each of the mental health conditions is different, you can have multiple conditions simultaneously. Here are some general symptoms to look for (05):


Depression causes constant sadness and loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy. People who are depressed may feel:

  • Tearful, empty, or hopeless
  • Angry, irritable, or frustrated
  • Less interested in activities that they used to enjoy
  • Tired
  • Restless
  • Less able to concentrate or make decisions
  • Worthless

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) occurs when people with alopecia worry non-stop about their hair loss. The anxiety doesn’t cease and begins to interfere with everyday life. People with GAD are often:

  • Restless, wound-up, or on-edge
  • Easily fatigued
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Irritable
  • Having headaches, muscle aches, stomachaches, or unexplained pains
  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
  • Having difficulty falling or staying asleep

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) makes people worry that they will be judged negatively by others because they have little or no hair. The embarrassment and shame are so extreme that they avoid socializing. SAD can often cause:

  • Feeling self-conscious or fearing that people will judge you negatively
  • Sweating, trembling, blushing
  • Pounding or racing heart
  • Stomachaches
  • Difficulty making eye contact or being around people you don’t know
  • Having things symmetrical or in a perfect order

How to Deal with the Psychological Effects of Hair Loss

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to psychological treatment for alopecia. The key is to seek treatment if you feel depressed or anxious about your hair loss. Treatment options typically include (06):

  • Psychotherapy (Talk therapy)
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (Teaches people to think differently)
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (Uses mindfulness and goal setting to eliminate negative thoughts)
  • Medication (Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, beta-blockers)
  • Support groups
  • Stress management techniques

Your healthcare provider may recommend one or more of these approaches to help you cope with your condition.

Can Stress Cause Alopecia?

We’ve established that having alopecia can inflict emotional problems, but can being stressed or depressed cause alopecia? After all, chronic stress can cause heart disease, high blood pressure and a variety of other medical issues. Is hair loss one of them?

The answer is yes. In a study on mice partially sponsored by the National Institute of Health, researchers discovered a particular stress hormone that inhibits stem cells required to grow hair. (07) During the study, mice were subjected to mild stress for many weeks. The corticosterone levels in the mice increased, and hair follicles stayed in the resting phase longer than normal, reducing growth.

Two hair loss conditions in people that are known to be triggered by stress are telogen effluvium and trichotillomania.

Telogen effluvium

As in the research study with the mice, stress could push your hair follicles into a resting period causing hair loss. The good news is that telogen effluvium due to stress is not permanent and can reverse itself.


Among people predisposed to obsessive-compulsive disorders, stress can trigger a hair-pulling disorder called trichotillomania. Despite trying to stop, people with this mental disorder have an irresistible urge to pull out their hair.

Fortunately, as we mentioned above, you can alleviate stress. The faster you seek treatment, the sooner your hair can return to a healthy growth cycle. To get started on your hair loss journey with a Happy Head dermatologist, click here.

What You Can Do to Prevent and Negotiate a Hair Loss Crisis

The key to dealing with hair loss is getting to a healthy level of acceptance. Sometimes it takes hard work, and sometimes it takes a little inspiration. It doesn’t matter how you get there. There isn’t a clear-cut map because the journey is unique for each person.

In a Tedx talk, Jannica Olin, a Swedish actress living in LA, asks the thought-provoking questions, “If I’m not my body, who am I?” and “When that which defines you is gone, do you know who you are?” Jannica lost the hair on her head, her eyebrows, and her eyelashes to alopecia areata. When you watch the video, you can’t help but notice that Jannica gets a little choked up when she removes her wig. Even as a successful TedX speaker who has redefined herself, Jannica is emotional about her experience. The difference is that Jannica can focus on what she has gained through her alopecia rather than lost.

We hope that you find your new normal and take back your power. We’re proud to be your partner and to support you along the way, take the Happy Head questionnaire to get started on a custom hair loss treatment plan all online.


(01) https://jpro.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s41687-020-00240-7

(02) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1261195/

(03) https://jpro.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s41687-020-00240-7

(04, 05, 06) https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders

(07) https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/how-stress-causes-hair-loss