“You are going to make me pull my hair out!”
Well, let’s be honest, you may get angry or frustrated, but you aren’t going to pull your hair out because of someone.
For some people though, they really do have an urge to pull their hair out. They have a disorder called trichotillomania – or trich – for short. The most common places they pull hair from are the scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes. This will leave noticeable bald patches.
Depending on who you talk to, there is a debate on how trich is classified. Some say it is an impulse control disorder, some say it is related to OCD, others say it is a body focused repetitive behavior (BFRB).
It can be found in all age groups, including infants! However, most commonly it appears in the tween – teen years.
According to the DSM V the symptoms of trichotillomania are:
- Recurrent pulling out of one’s hair, resulting in hair loss.
- Repeated attempts to decrease or stop hair pulling.
- The hair pulling causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
- The hair pulling or hair loss is not attributable to another medical condition (e.g., a dermatological condition).
- The hair pulling is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder (e.g., attempts to improve a perceived defect or flaw in appearance in body dysmorphic disorder).
There really is no known cause of trich. It is thought to have a neurologically predisposition. It is also thought to occur as a coping mechanism during stressful events. I personally tend to pull out my eyebrow hairs during times of stress when I get anxious. I do not do it all the time though and have learned to cope with it better when I have something to do with my hands such as play with a stress ball. I tend not to notice I am doing it though unless someone points it out. Many people with trich cannot control their urges though.
Some treatment options have been used.
- Therapy is the most common one. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is often used. Other forms of therapy can also be used depending on your psychologist (or other type of therapist you see) and how you feel the best way of going about it is. There are clinics around the US that specifically specialize in treating trich.
- Some medications have been thought to help trich although none are officially approved for it at this time. Naltrexone and Topomax are two that some people have tried. Others have also been prescribed SSRI’s.
- Support groups specific to trich are also important to gain connections with those that are dealing with the same problems you might be going through.
If you want more information on trichotillomania, a wonderful site to go to is http://www.trich.org/index.html
Some other sites that give general information about trich include:
***(There is also another disorder called dermatillomania – this is similar to trichotillomania. It involves skin picking though, where a person will pick at there skin such as scabs until the skin is bleeding. If you would like more information about this, go to: http://www.skinpick.com/dermatillomania.)