“‘You lose your hair, what’s the big deal?’ I was so embarrassed, I was so self-conscious, I was so depressed:” a qualitative interview study to understand the psychosocial burden of alopecia areata

    September 2020 in “Journal of Patient-Reported Outcomes
    Natalie Aldhouse, Helen Kitchen, SL Knight, Jake Macey, Fabio P. Nunes, Yves Dutronc, Natasha Atanaskova Mesinkovska, Justin Ko, Brett King, Kathleen W. Wyrwich
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    TLDR Alopecia Areata (AA) causes significant emotional distress, including feelings of embarrassment, depression, and anxiety, and impacts social interactions and daily activities.
    In 2020, a qualitative interview study was conducted on 45 patients (58% female, average age 33.3 years) diagnosed with Alopecia Areata (AA), a condition causing hair loss. The study found that AA significantly impacted the mental health of the participants, leading to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness, and depression. Participants reported a high psychosocial burden, with 78% finding scalp hair loss most bothersome. Emotional impacts included feeling sad/depressed (47% of patients), embarrassed/ashamed (56% due to appearance changes), and anxious about judgement from others (42%). Social and lifestyle impacts were also reported, with 40% avoiding social situations and experiencing an impact on work or school. The study concluded that AA has a significant psychosocial burden on patients, affecting their emotional well-being, social interactions, and daily activities, and emphasized the need for greater disease awareness and effective treatments.
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