Depression and Hair Loss: You’re not Alone
September 8, 2008 by Spencer Kobren
When I first realized I was losing my hair, more than 20 years ago, I was absolutely mortified, however, I think my reaction to the initial onset of hair loss was fairly typical.
First, I went through the denial phase. I tried to convince myself that This can’t really be happening to me. I mean I was only 21. It must be the water or something right?
Next came the questioning phase. I asked select friends and family questions like “Does my hair look different to you? Do I look like I’m going bald?”
This is never a good idea. The truth is you’ll get different reactions depending on who you ask. Some family members will attempt to spare your feelings by saying things like, “Your hair looks great… What are you talking about? You have a ton of hair!”
There’s always one family member, usually a woman, who says “You’re crazy. You’re not the type to go bald.” To this day I’ve never figured out what that means.
Male siblings, on the other hand, can be a little more direct. They’ll tell it like it is and of course throw in a couple of bald jokes.
This is what happened in my case, and this is when my panic phase began. It was true. I was going bald, and at the time I thought my life was over. The date was December 31 1987, New Year’s Eve, the day that has forever changed my life.
I’m not sure if I was prone to depression. I don’t remember ever being quite so down until this time in my life, but I will tell you this: it was very real and it was really bad!
The simple act of showering was torturous for me. To see my hair in my hands and going down the drain with each passing day felt like a slow death.
I was having trouble concentrating at work. I couldn’t enjoy going out with my friends because I was becoming increasing self-conscious about my appearance, and I hated to look at myself in the mirror or in storefront reflections. I became obsessed with my hair loss, and as the weeks passed, my self-esteem was diminishing. I went from a relatively together kid to an emotional mess in less than a year. I was quickly slipping into a really dark place.
Society tells us that guys shouldn’t care about losing their hair. As men, we were raised to believe that any guy who would be so hyper-concerned about something as frivolous as hair loss is a pathetic excuse for a man. Buck up! Get it together! It’s only hair. Deal with it. It’s part of life.
Well, that’s easy to say if it’s not happening to you. But the truth is, while society doesn’t like to admit it, we are all judged by our appearance, especially when we’re young.
If you’re a young guy reading this article, it’s important that you know you are not alone.
Losing your hair can drastically change the way you perceive yourself and it can change the way others react to you in all aspects of life. I’m not going to sugarcoat it.
Because of this fact, it’s reasonable to have feelings of confusion and despair. This is nothing to be ashamed of. There will be women who reject you because of your hair loss. There will be situations in which people will openly make less than polite comments and observations about your receding hairline. These are just the facts.
At first it will be difficult to deal with, but I am here, as someone who was once a severely depressed hair loss sufferer, to tell you that there is life after hair loss.
More than twenty years have passed since that fateful day back in 1987, and there are still days when I deal with feelings of sadness. The fact is, I’ve been extremely fortunate to save as much hair as I have, but the day still may come when I have to let go and just deal with the further progression of my hair loss.
I’m going to save the discussion about what I did and all of the money I spent in an attempt to free myself from the nightmare of hair loss for another article.
I just wanted to let you guys know that I do what I do because I’m just like you. I’m a guy who was hit hard by the onset of his hair loss.
There was a time that I thought I was all alone with my feelings. I believed I was weak and vain because this is what society had drummed into my head. However, instead of letting hair loss overwhelm my life, I chose to take charge of my emotions and my future by turning my obsession into something positive. My profession is built on the hope that shedding a bright light on the harsh reality of hair loss will change the way we experience hair loss and the way society treats hair loss sufferers. I want you to know that while it might not be easy, it does get better.
Host of The Bald Truth Radio Show
Founder, American Hair Loss Association
Founder and Director of Consumer/Patient Affairs, International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons (IAHRS.ORG)