There are 5 stages of grief that can also be likened to Hair Loss. In this article I will cover the first stage: Denial.
Denial is a survival reaction to loss or trauma, on a biological level it serves to numb the experience to protect you from your intense hair loss stress.
At this stage the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming, life just doesn’t make any sense to you, suddenly all you can think about is ‘am I losing my hair?’ Hair loss like with death, you become shocked and in denial of what is happening to you. The magnitude of your hair loss stress is usually subconscious, you may not see how it is affecting your behaviour just yet.
Hair loss, in the case of Male/Female Pattern Baldness, is usually a gradual thing, however it can be rapidly accelerated by poor diet and increased stress. The shock does not initially set in but the basis of denial is definitely in play here. Perhaps you are looking in the mirror, going close up, exploring your hair from all angles but not truly taking in the reality that your hair is falling out. You may have a daily feeling of unease with reminders of your hair loss and stressful feelings experienced when you start noticing it getting worse.
As mentioned, stress can accelerate Androgenic Alopecia, also known as Male/Female Pattern Baldness. It can also trigger Alopecia Areata; Totalis; Universalis etc, these are Auto -Immune Disorders. Stress only serves to makes it worse not better.
Understanding your physical reaction to stress:
Following a shock or during prolonged periods of intense stress or unhealthy behaviour, your immune system and vitality is compromised, particularly as your body is in a state of ‘fight or flight’ which means that instead of the blood being directed to your digestion for goodness and growth, your blood is shifted to your muscles in an animal instinct behaviour, preparing you to fight or escape. This is a good state of alert if you are actually in danger, however it is detrimental to your physical and mental health if you are continually triggered or stuck in ‘fight or flight’. If the stress is continually present it stops the body from absorbing vital vitamins and minerals, which in turn affects adrenal glands, the thyroid glands and other organ function.
It is this ‘fight or flight’ response that may have initially triggered your hair loss/alopecia in the first place. Now a added hair loss stress is making it worse. As a double edged sword, also preventing your hair from re-growing. Your body is now not in a state of panic not growth and healing. It is vitally important for your emotional, psychological and more importantly physical health to break the damaging hair loss stress cycle. Stop being in denial about your stress and the impact your hair is having you on mind, body and social interaction.
Being afraid is very closely connected to denial, as it is this fear that prevents us from talking to friends, family or seeking medical or psychological help for the daily hair loss stresses you are trying to cope with. It is the fear to face up to the reality and disbelief that your lovely hair you have taken pride in is slowly or rapidly leaving you, perhaps not to return.
Often because your hair loss and stress may is not fully accepted or acknowledged for how damaging it really is, it can be a very isolating stage. Men and women may keep it to themselves, partly through shame and partly through the denial that it is anything to worry about. Perhaps it runs a little deeper, you may not want to burden people, and you are protecting your loved ones from worrying about you. The truth is the only person who needs protecting is you.
Many men and women ignore the first signs and numb their feelings, often telling themselves that they are not that bothered – not enough to confide with someone. They may not totally deny it but may just try to avoid seeking help or talking about their anxiety or recognising the link between their hair loss and stress that is engulfing them. This is a lonely stage for many.
Get out of denial and out of your stressed state!
- Talk to someone, a friend or a family member
- Visit a Trichologist (hair specialist) to get a professional opinion on your hair loss.
- If you think that it is getting worse, perhaps take photos so that you can actually see if it is or not.
- Take some action! Research your options, see what help is available. In the case of Androgenic Alopecia also known as Male/Female Pattern Baldness, prevention is better than cure. There are treatments that can halt the hair loss process and some regrowth is possible but not in all cases.
- If you have Alopecia Areata or other forms, again take action fast when finding a cosmetic solution to cover the baldness. Patches appear almost over night and can accelerate. A more natural alternative to a wig is a Hair Replacement System, but they take 3 months to make. Act fast!
- De-stress by exercising; walking; meditation is a fantastic way to unwind; do things that you enjoy; talk to someone
- Try Complementary therapy to help calm your mind