Experts have called for more understanding of the psychological problems faced by men and women affected by hair loss.
A report commissioned by hair loss supplement company Viscera found that almost a third of people in the UK suffered from hair loss or had experienced it in the past.
While the majority of people were affected by male pattern baldness or hair thinning, around 2% of people suffered from alopecia.
Many of those with hair loss reported no emotional problems, but a “significant minority” of people were found to be at risk of serious psychosocial consequences, including depression, anxiety, lower self-esteem and identity change, according to the report’s author, health psychologist Dr Nigel Hunt.
He said: “While hair loss affects a quarter of the population, the psychosocial consequences are relatively unknown. This report looks beneath the surface to reveal the fundamental reasons why hair loss has such an impact on those who suffer and the extent to which it holds a negative perception in society.”
In the report, which coincides with Hair Loss Awareness month, Dr Hunt suggested people with the condition should be given more access to therapy to deal with the psychological issues associated with it.
The study, which questioned over 1,400 people found that a quarter of people with hair loss felt distressed when they looked in the mirror, 33% felt self-conscious, and almost 20% said they lacked confidence in social situations.
Those polled said the condition would have a “significant risk” of damaging relationships and worried their sexual attractiveness would decrease as a result of it.
The study also uncovered a perception that people with hair loss would face difficulties at work – 30% of those polled said women with hair loss could be discriminated against at work, whereas only 15% agreed men would be discriminated against.
Dr Hunt said: “This report provides help to develop understanding of the relatively uncharted psychosocial impact of the condition across the UK. It demonstrates that hair loss cannot be dismissed as a one-dimensional problem but is a serious issue that requires emotional support.”
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