Living with alopecia areata can be challenging. Hair loss and regrowth are unpredictable and they can be cyclical (comes and goes). Unpredictable conditions like this can be frustrating but it’s important to understand that you are not alone. People with alopecia areata and their loved ones experience various feelings and frustrations. Your experience as an adult with alopecia areata is usually different from a child. Here are some of the most common emotions associated with having alopecia areata: Loneliness, withdrawal, and isolation Loss and grief Sadness, which can lead to depression Confusion Denial Stress Anger Hopelessness Embarrassment Fear Guilt or self-blame Parents or guardians may feel: Guilt that they caused their child’s disease by passing on “bad” genes Helpless because they can’t find a cure for the disease or ease their child’s difficulty Grief and loss associated with the loss of a child with hair Anger at others Shame or anger because the disease has also affected their lives These feelings aren’t restricted to parents or guardians. Siblings and other family members may feel them too. Ways to Cope While Living With Alopecia Areata Finding the right support for any chronic disease is important. Support can come in different ways, from group meetings, online or in person, to one-on-one. The choice depends on your comfort level and what is available. An excellent way to meet others with alopecia areata and get support is by joining a NAAF support group or by attending the annual NAAF conference and local awareness events. People with alopecia areata often reach a point of acceptance and many turn their experience into something positive. Learn more about Emotional Wellness and Mental Health as they relate to alopecia areata. Knowing When to Seek Professional Help If you are overwhelmed or have trouble coping with everyday life, it may be time to seek professional help. Whether it is a therapist, counselor, social worker, or psychologist, they can help you understand your feelings and teach you ways to cope. If you experience any of these issues, please consider reaching out to a professional: You have difficulty completing routine tasks. You are missing work or school. You are isolating yourself from friends and family. Your emotions seem out of control (anger, crying, helplessness). You feel as if nothing you do matters (apathy). You have anxious or intrusive thoughts. You have feelings of wanting to hurt yourself. You have difficulties in your intimate or family relationships. You use unhealthy behaviors to cope, such as abusing alcohol. Ask your doctor for a referral to someone who specializes in grief and loss. There are also mental health professionals who work with people with autoimmune diseases. You could ask friends or family if they have any recommendations too. Your local mental health association or crisis hotline may also have suggestions. The Impact of Alopecia Areata Beyond Hair Loss Anyone at any age can develop alopecia areata. What they all have in common is some form of hair loss, but the severity and personal circumstances make it so everyone experiences the disease differently. Children With Alopecia Areata Children with alopecia areata go through different stages of awareness and acceptance. Most children aged 5 and under appear to have little emotional impact from the disease. However, as they grow and change, it can be harder for them to accept their alopecia areata. It can impact their self-esteem and social interactions. Learn more about the different experiences children with alopecia areata may have and resources to help you and your child. Teens and Adults With Alopecia Areata Alopecia areata changes your appearance; hair is important in our culture for both men and women. When describing someone, the hair is usually the first or second thing you mention. Your hair can be a symbol of youth and good health. It can be how you express yourself. You can have fun with it. Unlike children, adults usually have established relationships and have formed their identity and place in society, while teens are working on this. It can be hard for teens and adults to open up to others about their alopecia areata and how it makes them feel. As a result, they may experience stress or anxiety in their relationships. Learn more about: Treatment options and challenges Support groups Financial assistance for purchasing a hairpiece Working and Living with Alopecia Areata Deciding whether to discuss your alopecia areata at work is a decision only you can make. It depends on your work environment, how close you feel to your colleagues and if you feel safe and supported. Talking about your disease allows you to educate and inform your colleagues so that they can understand what alopecia areata is and how it impacts your life. Navigating New Relationships When Living with Alopecia Areata It can be stressful to open up about your alopecia areata to a potential partner. Some people choose to do this at the beginning of a relationship. Others wait until the relationship has evolved to a deeper level of trust. It’s your choice. Let your comfort level guide you in deciding when it is the right time to disclose your condition.