Many people are terrified by the thought of hair loss. Baldness or thinning hair is an experience most would rather do without, especially if it starts early. The amount of money some spend hair loss prevention and hair restoration is testament to how much it affects people.
Male and Female pattern hair loss is more common than most people realise. Male pattern baldness affects about 50% of adult men, many more will experience some kind of thinning during their lifetime. While some are quite unperturbed by it, others dread the radical transformation that can occur to one’s appearance.
Female hair loss is also wide spread amongst the adult population. In Australia, it is estimated that there are 700,000 women who have extreme hair loss and another 2.2 million who are moderately affected. Overall, about 50% of the adult female population will experience some form of thinning in their lifetime. This loss of hair can be even more devastating than for their male counterparts. Hair is viewed as something that defines a woman, her femininity, even womanhood. Whether male or female, go through a process of grieving over the loss of their hair. Unfortunately, this grief is largely misunderstood, underestimated and isn’t given due sympathy or empathy from those who have never felt it’s effects. Simply, they don’t understand.
Hair loss is often embarrassing and cause loss of self esteem, confidence, adversely affect one’s social life, social interactions, work life, etc. The coping mechanisms between men and women vary, below is a general process of how we often respond to it and a way forward:
The Psychological Responses to Hair Loss:
1. Moment of Realisation – That first ‘moment’ you realise your hair is thinning often occurs away from your usual bathroom mirror. Some mirrors seem to show up all of our imperfections, different lighting angles can expose show more of our scalp thereby showing us how thin our hair has actually become.
Sometimes, you may see a photo or video of yourself where your scalp can more easily be seen – often people see their ‘bald spot’ for the very first time on video. Or someone like your hairdresser may mention that you don’t have as much hair as you used to. Children, even grandchildren, can be a source commentary on your thinning hair or receding hairline. However you make this initial discovery, it usually comes as a rude shock. Most people don’t realise they are experiencing hair loss until they have already lost 30% of their hair.
2. Common responses – This is by no means an exhaustive list but the most common reactions include:
Self ‘Hair’ Talk – Is it just my imagination? Or has my hair thinned?
Analysis of feelings – “I’m feeling a little oversensitive, possibly vain, is it really a problem or not an issue?”
Hair Counting – You start to notice hair in the basin, shower and pillow for the first time in your life. You ask yourself, is this a normal amount of hair fall? “I’ve never seen this amount of hair before.” Some people even take the time to count each individual hair.
3. Denial – you pretend there is no issue and tell yourself “It will just go away”. “Surely I’m just making this all up?”.
4. Panic and Fear – You begin to panic, you are worried something may be wrong with you, “am I sick?”, “what is going wrong with me?”
5. Slow acceptance – you begin to accept that there appears to be a problem and you should look into it further. You begin to research the causes of hair loss, your symptoms, what can be done to prevent it, etc. (If you are reading this article, you probably are already in this phase).
6. Motivated – this is where you pro-actively seek out a solution for your hair, you begin to speak to your family doctor and reputable hair loss consultant/ company.
Today, there is a wealth of information about hair loss on the web. Some of it is helpful, some of it isn’t. Whilst it is good to read up on it, it is better to speak to an expert or experts in the field of health and hair. Seeing your family doctor (especially females) is a good start. There could be some underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed (our hair can be a window to our health). You may like to get a referral to a dermatologist, a specialist in the field of hair and skin; they can perform a biopsy to test the condition of your hair and further tests if necessary.
Speak to a Hair loss consultant
Doctors can help treat your hair medically, but most are unaware of all of the options available to make a cosmetic change to your hair i.e. how to make it look thicker, even how it used to be.
This is where a trained consultant, like the one’s at Transitions Hair International can help. Transitions has over 70 studios worldwide specialising in the area of hair loss, their consultants are trained in all forms of hair loss treatment – prevention, regrowth, transplants, non-surgical procedures and hair replacement. They will help guide you and educate you on what your options are so you can make the right decision for you. Most studios offer a free, private and confidential hair consultation. Any hair loss concerns are professionally evaluated and appropriate solutions offered.