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Coping With The Pain of Hair Loss

Thinning hair can take a toll on a woman's self-esteem.

Hair Loss, Loss of Self-Esteem continued...

"Unlike other physical problems that can affect your looks, like being obese, for example, losing your hair is something you can quickly and easily do something about, and you shouldn't feel so embarrassed by your problem that you don't take advantage of what can be done to help you," says Lusskin, director of reproductive psychiatry at New York University Medical Center in New York City.

Lusskin says you'll feel a lot better if you take a proactive self-help approach.

"If hair loss bothers you, don't run from it, investigate all your options, both medical and over-the-counter treatments, and in the interim, until they start working, look into temporary solutions -- wigs, hair pieces, hair extensions," says Lusskin.

Howard agrees and adds that women who are concerned about their looks really don't need to suffer.

Don't Feel Bad About Feeling Bad

"If you really find you can't cope with the change in your appearance, there is nothing wrong with wearing a wig -- it's a very good and logical solution, particularly if you are waiting for a treatment to kick in," Howard tells WebMD.

Reed says that while most women he treats are reluctant to try a wig or hair extensions at first, in the end, he says, many find it is the best solution, particularly if their appearance is key to their sense of well-being.

"In many instances a wig can give a woman back her confidence and her self-esteem; it's not the best solution, but at least she feels she can face the outside world without being judged harshly, and that can be important," says Reed.

Lusskin believes it's all about finding your personal comfort level and being true to yourself.

"While some women may benefit from allowing themselves to be seen without a hair piece -- often finding that a very liberating experience -- for others, hiding their hair loss through the use of wigs or hair pieces is the right answer. It's really all about being true to your own feelings about yourself," says Lusskin.

While experts report that most women do eventually accept and make peace with their hair loss, for some it can become a serious psychological stumbling block. In this instance, worry and concern over appearance can become a pathological obsession that invades all areas of a woman's life.

"If you are losing sleep over your hair loss, if you are continuously ruminating over the problem, if it affects your appetite, or if you are consistently feeling sad, blue, hopeless, or especially helpless, all because of your appearance, then you are seriously affected by your hair loss and should consider talking to a mental health professional," says Lusskin.

Often, she says, the problem is a matter of episodic depression, which can be easily treated. If left untreated, however, not only can it continue to make you feel bad in many areas of your life, the stress and the worry may make your hair loss worse.

 

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Reviewed on December 16, 2003

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