Anxiety is the body’s reaction to stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations. Though everyone feels anxious occasionally, those who suffer from anxiety disorders suffer such distress that it interferes with their ability to lead a normal life.
The effects of anxiety are both mental and physical. Some of the physical symptoms can include sweating, headaches, nausea, trembling, and rashes. Anxiety and hair loss is one physical side effect that is not so commonly mentioned. Most people don’t think anxiety affects the hair because it doesn’t affect everyone. However, anxiety can have an effect on your hair and when it does, it can be very distressing for those dealing with sudden hair loss.
How Stress and Anxiety are Linked to Hair Loss
Hair loss itself is not directly caused by anxiety, but rather the stress brought on by everyday difficulties for those suffering from anxiety. Anxiety and stress are similar conditions, but anxiety itself can be a lifelong struggle. Studies have shown that stress and anxiety-induced stress can contribute to specific hair loss conditions.
Alopecia Areata. Large clumps of hair may suddenly fall out for no apparent reason, causing patches of hair loss. Some people may experience hair loss in other parts of the body. Although the hair will grow back, continued anxiety and stress can cause the hair loss to continue leading to different patches of hair and baldness.
Telogen Effluvium (TE). This is the second most common form of hair loss. In essence, it occurs when there is a change in the number of hair follicles growing hair. The number of hair follicles producing hair will drop, which means an increase in dormant hair follicles, with the end result being hair loss. TE can appear as thinning hair with the hair on the top of the scalp thinning more than the sides or back of the scalp.
Another reason anxiety and stress may cause hair loss is due to the reduction of key nutrients required for hair growth. Stress and anxiety can increase muscle tension, skin sebum production, and an increase in hormones processed in the body. As the body works to combat these issues, the supplies needed for hair growth can be diminished. Sebum can also clog the pores in the scalp, thus hindering hair growth.
Anxiety Relating to Hair Loss
Unfortunately, anxiety hair loss can cause even more stress and anxiety. Though there is no direct link to hair loss and depression, some individuals suffering from hair loss may begin to feel symptoms of depression as the physical symptoms of their anxiety and stress become pronounced.
How to Fight Back
First and foremost, take active steps to reduce your anxiety levels. If you are not currently undergoing anxiety treatment, the professionals at Destination Hope can help you understand the root of your anxiety and provide treatment options so you can live a healthy life.
With your anxiety and stress reduced after receiving treatment, your hair may begin to grow back on its own. A healthy diet and exercise can help also provide the nutrients needed for hair growth. Hair growth is a long process and your hair may not come back for months, so it’s important to be patient and continue working on monitoring your anxiety.
As we approach the month of May, which is the official Mental Health Awareness
Month, we find ourselves talking more openly about mental illness. Doctors,
neurosurgeons, and professionals from all over the globe are constantly testing,
researching and trying to understand what creates mood disorders, chemical imbalances
, and personality disorders. While science is trying to break through the complexities of
the brain, we are here doing everything we can to bring the suffering to light. Every
year, we continue a movement toward destigmatizing and decriminalizing those who
suffer from mental illness. After all, one in four people will suffer from a mental disorder
in their lifetime and one in seventeen will develop a serious mental illness such as
schizophrenia, bi-polar and oftentimes, co-occurring disorders. We have come a long
way, but still have a long way to go. More and more people are talking about mental
illness. Our goal is to bring it to the attention of Washington’s lawmakers so just maybe
people that suffer from mental illness will have access to health insurance and not left
behind. And perhaps people will become open minded about treatment and discussing
counseling options with their loved ones. It’s not such a taboo topic anymore as
nowadays it is more common and encouraging to seek professional help.
Recently, Netflix released “13 Reasons Why” which is about a high school student named
Hannah Baker and the aftermath of her suicide. Hannah records a series of cassette tapes
explaining the reasons why she took her own life and how she was bullied, ignored and
assaulted. The tapes she left behind were sent to her former classmate Clay Jensen,
whom she had a crush on and admired, although it turns out, he ends up taking blame for
her death. Here are a few reasons we believe this show gives off the wrong message
about suicide. The show fails to acknowledge that 90% of people who commit suicide
suffer from mental illness. According to a response of the show from USA TODAY,
“While external circumstances such as bullying can contribute to suicide, the show
misses the opportunity to discuss the underlying cause.” USA TODAY goes on to say,
“the show romanticizes the aftermath of suicide, it also blames everyone in Hannah’s
We know that constant bullying and abuse can cause severe damage to a child’s psyche
and it can affect their learning and development in school, especially when they are
scared and feel like they have no one to talk to. This is why parents and advocates need
to communicate with their children and talk about what is going on in their lives. By
bringing in professional help and making sure their child is seeing a therapist regularly,
they will have a greater chance of combatting their underlying depression and insecurities
before they fester and worsen. However, the show gives off the idea that there is a
liability when someone commits suicide and puts blame on their friends and families.
This is not something we want to promote to our children, especially depressed and
already suicidal teenagers.
The idea that a teenager could simply be kind and save a life is not how suicide works.
Professional help for the mentally ill is real help. Hopefully, this show will be a topic of
concern for many people who see that this message is preventing teens from getting the
professional help they need.
Perhaps USA TODAY’s opinion is right about the producers wanting to get shock value
out of suicide. After all, they are making money and no one wants to tune into something
boring. We need to continue to talk to our children and explain to them that not every
person’s situation is alike and there will be obstacles in life. But none are more or no less
important and they can always be addressed with a professional to help find a solution.
Taking the first step in admitting you have a mental health problem and need help can be difficult. The stigmas surrounding mental health can make it even harder. Mental health stigmas often lead to various forms of exclusion or discrimination at work and within your circle of family and friends.
Stigmatizing beliefs about mental health are shared by a wide range of individuals within society, regardless of if they know someone with a mental health condition. Adolescents with mental health problems may face stigmatized behaviors from family, peers, teachers, and school staff. Adults may experience stigma from friends, family, coworkers, and employers.
- People who are mentally ill are dangerous
- Mental health problems do not affect children or teens
- People can just “snap out of” depression
- Addiction is not a disease, it’s a choice and shows lack of willpower
- Individuals with mental health problems cannot recover
- Therapy is a waste of time
- It’s impossible to prevent a mental health problem
Where Do Stigmas Come From?
Stigmas associated with mental health issues come from misguided views that these individuals are “different,” from everyone else. Early beliefs about what causes mental health issues included demonic or spiritual possession, which led to caution, fear, and discrimination.
Society has stereotyped views about mental illness and how it affects people. The role of media in mental health stigmas also cannot be denied. News reports often link mental illness with violence or portray those with mental health issues as dangerous, criminal, evil, or disabled –often in television shows and movies.
The Impact of Mental Health Stigmas
A mental health stigma can be social or perceived. Social stigmas often lead to prejudice or discriminating behaviors. Perceived stigmas are internalized stigmas. A person with mental health issues may begin to perceive themselves a certain way as a result of the discrimination they endure. Perceived, or internalized, stigmas can cause feelings of shame, lead to isolation, and a distorted self-image. Internalized stigmas also make people less likely to seek out treatment and disclose their mental health condition.
Based on the Center for Disease Control’s 2012 “Attitudes Toward Mental Illness,” negative stigmas on mental illness can lead to embarrassment and fear in disclosing mental health problems, which can prevent treatment and recovery. Negative stigmas can also result in limited life opportunities, such as limited employment and housing opportunities.
Breaking Mental Health Stigmas
When it comes to mental health stigmas, knowledge is power, as is challenging these stigmas. Here are some ways to combat mental health stigmas:
- Talk openly about mental health
- Educate yourself and others about mental health
- Be conscious of your language (i.e. “that person is crazy” or “I’m so OCD”)
- Be empathetic and compassionate for those living with a mental illness
- Stand up against the way those living with mental illness are portrayed in the media
- Be an advocate for mental health reform
Mental health stigmas will not simply go away on their own. By working together, a community of advocates can change the way mental illness is perceived in society.