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Hair loss, for both men and women, can be traumatic. Our self-esteem, who we fundamentally are as a human, is tied up in the way we look and the way we feel about how we look. Our hair is a major part of our defining features. 

When people find themselves in a difficult situation, often the first thing they do is look for a solution. It’s a logical step to getting ourselves back on track and removing the obstacles that are causing us concern. 

However, it’s not always that simple when it comes to hair loss. Sometimes, there’s no quick fix.

While we’re trying to find the cause of our distressing hair loss or looking for ways to restore lost or thinning hair, it’s very likely that we’ll be doing so with the additional burden of stress, anxiety and depression.

Yes, coping with hair loss – from an emotional perspective – is a major issue. We’d like to offer some insights on our experience with this matter in the hope that it will help you in some way.

Getting To The Root Of The Problem

What is the cause of your hair loss, and is it likely to be permanent? Sudden unexpected hair loss through acute stress, genetic disorders, or illness can leave us floundering and trigger any number of emotional responses. 

On the other hand, many people who come through our door do so knowing that they are going to lose their hair through some form of medical treatment such as chemotherapy.  In many ways, knowing what to expect and seeking ways to deal with it beforehand makes it easier to cope as you can exercise a level of control over your situation. For this reason, we like to assist those undergoing certain medical treatments before the fact, helping to prepare for what’s to come and even mitigate the effects. 

Whether expected or not, though, our emotional response is often the same. 

The Link Between Hair Loss and Depression

In another unfortunate twist, depression itself can lead to hair loss. Unforeseen life changes or sudden stress-inducing events can include divorce or relationship problems, job loss or work stress, or chronic health issues. 

Stress, anxiety and depression are often closely linked, and any or all of these can also contribute to thinning hair. This added burden for people who already suffer from hair loss can be a complicated situation to manage. 

Coping With Hair Loss

If you’re in a situation where you are, or already have lost your hair – how can you cope? What steps can you take that will – realistically – help you to deal with this trauma in the healthiest way possible?

Obviously, this is a subjective issue, but having worked closely with many in this exact position, we have some thoughts. 

Hair Systems

A wig or hairpiece won’t fix the problem – we know that. But, it can go a long way towards repairing our self-esteem and boosting our confidence. Today’s wigs are – frankly – amazing pieces of art that are often indistinguishable from “the real thing.”

Human hair wigs are incredibly beautiful and versatile and veer sharply away from the shiny, synthetic hair solutions of yesteryear. Many women, men and children make use of these wigs while they are either waiting for their hair to grow back, or as a long-term solution to permanent hair loss. 

An article in The Guardian talking on the topic of the psychological role of wigs says of one woman, “The hairpiece was transformative. It allowed her to live her life, not as a sick person but as a wife and friend. Without the wig, Jones believes she would have felt vulnerable and isolated, trapped by the stigma of being a bald woman.”

Wearing a wig may not be the solution you are looking for in the long term, but it can certainly serve as a critical stopgap while you’re dealing with illness, trauma, stress or depression. 

Diet and Nutrition

Granted, there is no single food or eating plan that can reverse depression. However, there are certain foods that will nudge your ailing body and mind in the right direction. Each healthy, positive choice you make for the good of your overall wellbeing helps in a small, incremental way. 

Without a doubt, you will be able to look back on a series of great decisions and track changes in your body and emotional state that you may not have seen at the time. 

This comprehensive article on the role of food and recovery makes for fascinating reading. These are some of the key takeaways in summary:

  1. A diet rich in antioxidants help to prevent and reverse cell damage, particulalry in the brain. Add foods such as apricots, broccoli, carrots, peaches, spinach and sweet potato to your plate. 
  2. Increase your intake of Vitamin C through oranges, blueberries, strawberries, and tomatoes.  This intriguing article on the role of vitamin C and your mental wellbeing says,  “The antioxidant property of Vitamin-C helps in maintaining homeostasis- a balance in one’s central nervous systems. In addition, chronic anxiety leads to elevated levels of cortisol which is a stress hormone. Consumption of Vitamin-C can help one’s body manage cortisol levels better.”
  3. “Smart” carbs such as fruits, beans, legumes and tubers are both comfort and comforting foods. “Smart carbs have a calming effect – In general, carbohydrates are linked to serotonin, a brain chemical that can help boost your mood. Complex carbs (like whole grains) are the healthier carb option; however, fruits, vegetables, and legumes are also healthy sources of carbohydrates and fibre.” (Source)

In a nutshell (pun intended) anything from the earth in its simplest form is exactly what our body needs to fix itself and operate at its best – even when you’re ill. Especially when you’re ill! 

Exercise

It’s when we’re feeling low or anxious and absolutley not in the mood for a hike in the woods that we should pop our walking shoes on. Exercise is one of the single biggest contributors to elevated mood and a healthy mind and body. 

Not convinced?

  • “Regular exercise can increase self-confidence, improve your mood, help you relax, and lower symptoms of mild depression and anxiety. Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All of these exercise benefits can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.” Mayo Clinic
  • “Physical activity improves your body’s ability to use oxygen and also improves blood flow. Both of these changes have a direct effect on your brain. Exercise also increases your brain’s production of endorphins. Endorphins are the “feel-good” neurotransmitters that are responsible for the coveted “runner’s high.” This is the sense of well-being and euphoria that many people experience after exercise.” Healthline
  • “Exercise can be an effective component of a stress management program, and all types of exercise can be beneficial for stress management. Exercise programs consistent with the current recommendations to improve health can be prescribed to manage stress.” Researchgate
  • “The physical activities take your mind off the day-to-day worries. Repetitive motions you perform during the exercise routine promote a focus on the body instead of that on the mind. If you can focus on the physical movements you will experience similar benefits to that of meditation. Concentrating on a single physical task produces a sense of optimism and increases energy levels apart from providing clarity and calmness.” Stress.org

On top of this, increased blood flow to your extremitites boosts the delivery of nutrients and oxygen throughout our bodies which helps to nourish our cells. Hair follicles react the same way to any other cell when offered this vital kick and can perform at their peak. 

In Summary

We know what it’s like to lose your hair. We understand the emotional devastation first hand, and we can empathise fully. 

However, we also know that there are ways to manage the rollercoaster of emotions that often follow hair loss. There is no single, quick fix but there are several ways to address both the cause and effect of hair loss in a healthy way.

If you are struggling with thinning hair, or facing hair loss for any reason, please come and talk to us. Our dedicated team deal with people in the same situation as you on a daily basis. We want to help you. 

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