Alopecia areata (AA) is an immunological disorder characterised by hair loss. Individuals with AA report high levels of social anxiety. One intervention that holds potential for reducing social anxiety in individuals with AA is mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT).
Our key aim was to investigate whether MBCT reduces social anxiety in individuals with AA. The study also investigated whether MBCT reduces depression, general anxiety, and increases quality of life and increases trait mindfulness in individuals with AA.
Five participants with AA took part in an 8-session in-person MBCT intervention. A multiple-baseline single-group case series design was adopted. Idiographic measures of social anxiety were measured each day from baseline, through intervention, to follow-up. Standardised questionnaires of trait mindfulness, social anxiety, depression, anxiety, and quality of life were completed at baseline, post-intervention, and at 4-week follow-up.
All participants completed the MBCT course, but one participant was excluded from the idiographic analysis due to a high amount of missing data. The remaining four participants demonstrated reductions in idiographic measures of social anxiety from baseline to follow-up. These effects were larger between baseline and follow-up, than between baseline and post-intervention. Two participants demonstrated significant improvement in standardised measures of wellbeing from baseline to follow-up – they also practised mindfulness most regularly at home between sessions.
MBCT may be effective in reducing social anxiety and improving wellbeing in individuals with AA, although this might be dependent on the extent to which participants regularly practise mindfulness exercises.