A prominent American oncologist and cancer epidemiologist wrote in an article recently ‘that fear of alopecia does lead some women to refuse chemotherapy or to choose sub-optimal chemotherapy alternatives.’ Most of us worry about hair loss at some point, but few of us would let that fear take hold of our lives to such an extent. Or would we? While the good doctor may have focused on an extreme example of hair loss anxiety, there are many other varieties of the condition alive and kicking. So, can fear of hair loss take over your life? Finish reading before rushing to judgement!
Checking the Mirror
First, let’s address the fact that hair loss is a natural part of life. It happens to pretty much everyone at some point, whether it’s due to genetics, age, hormonal changes, illness, or other factors. When it does strike, it can be a huge blow to our self-esteem and self-confidence. Hair makes up a significant part of our identity. When it starts to go, it can feel like our very sense of who we are is slipping away.
That’s why many of us find ourselves checking the mirror to see if our hairline has receded or if that ponytail is thinner than it used to be. Been there, done that, right? For some people, however, that anxiety can move to a different level. Some people who are worried about hair loss can become fixated on it, checking their hair multiple times a day and constantly seeking reassurance from others. This level of anxiety can even lead to avoidance behaviour.
This might include avoiding swimming or other activities that result in your hair getting wet or becoming dishevelled. You might also avoid social situations where you feel like your hair loss is more noticeable, such as parties or events with bright lighting. Once avoidance behaviour kicks in, it can rapidly spiral into isolation and social withdrawal, leading to increased feelings of anxiety and depression.
There are times when fear of hair loss goes beyond even this level of anxiety and becomes phobic. Phobias related to hair loss are real and often debilitating conditions that affect many people. They can become so severe that they require medical treatment. Let’s take a look at three of the most common hair loss phobias:
Trichophobia is the fear of losing or removing hair, and it can manifest in a variety of ways. For example, some people with trichophobia may be afraid to use combs or brushes, while others may avoid haircuts or even touching their own hair. These fears can be so severe that they interfere with everyday life, causing significant distress and worry.
Phalacrophobia is the fear of going bald. It can occur in people who show no signs of alopecia and may never go on to develop it. Thinking about baldness or being confronted by images of baldness (in advertisements, for example) can be enough to trigger anxiety and nausea in a phalacrophobic individual.
Peladophobia is like phalacrophobia but with a slight twist. It includes the fear of baldness but extends to embracing a fear of real-life bald people. This fear is (of course) irrational, but that doesn’t prevent it from taking over the lives of those who suffer from it. People suffering from peladophobia will tense up in the presence of a bald person and will go to great lengths to avoid such encounters.
How to Deal with Hair Loss Anxiety
What can you do if you’re experiencing fear and anxiety related to hair loss? First, it’s important to recognise that it’s a real issue that can have a significant impact on your mental health. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s ‘just hair’ or that you’re being silly for worrying about it. Be aware that there are many safe, effective treatments for hair loss these days. Instead of wasting time and energy worrying, why not check out your options?
If your fear of hair loss has reached the stage of interfering with your daily life, it might be a good idea to seek help from a mental health professional. They can help you develop coping strategies and work through the underlying fears and insecurities that are driving your anxiety. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a common treatment for phobias, and it can be effective for phobias related to hair loss as well.
If you are struggling with extreme anxiety about hair loss, it’s important to seek help. Talking to a mental health professional can help you understand your fears and develop strategies for managing them. With the right treatment and support, you can overcome your phobia and regain control over your life.
If you have concerns about any aspect of your hair, speaking to a Vinci Hair Clinic specialist could help. We’re one of the most respected hair restoration organisations in the world. What’s more, we offer a free, no-obligation consultation to all our first-time clients. Contact us today to book your appointment!