Trichotillomania – Its Signs and Symptoms

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trichotillomania

Trichotillomania – Its Signs and Symptoms

Trichotillomania is the word for involuntary hair pulling. It is an acquired habit or compulsion that develops if your child has stress or anxiety.

For young children, it could be brought on by frustration or humiliation, stress, illness, affection or friendship, or even boredom. If you have ever witnessed your child with this habit, you are very lucky. They are not permanently affected, which is good news for parents, especially since children’s emotional development is so fragile.

Neurologists tend to see trichotillomania as an autosomal dominant disorder. Since it can be acquired and difficult to treat, it can be hard to diagnose as it can vary in time and sometimes people that might otherwise have a diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder don’t show the behavior that the doctor sees. It is important to have your child’s medical history checked out to rule out any other neurological problems, psychiatric conditions, or other diseases.

Your child might present with trichotillomania at any age, even though he might not even have the urge to do it.  They can also be victims of body dysmorphic disorder or bad body image, or they could have disorders that disrupt their lives. It can be anything from food preferences, which might be something as simple as a dislike of chocolate to what one thinks of as the real emotional distress caused by food.

Symptoms of trichotillomania can be so varied that a health care provider may miss the case entirely. They can be of several different types, including but not limited to:

The over-emphasis on certain facial areas, which can be done to try to establish a trigger finger for the behavior. Body dysmorphic disorder in children is a cause of trichotillomania. A tendency to over-compensate when there is a perceived loss of identity. This is usually done in order to try to save face after a person commits a crime.

There is no agreement on what actually causes this type of disorder. Trichotillomania can be in some cases genetic, so parents with genetic issues need to discuss it with their doctor.

Anxiety and depression can cause cause your child to pull his hair out.  Anxiety or panic attacks can bring on a state of fear that is extremely difficult to dispel. Your child may even start talking about suicide to avoid the anxiety.

Children with trichotillomania can be very disruptive to their own personal and family life. They are aggressive, have other forms of self-abuse, have poor impulse control, and they constantly need the attention of another person. Other problems that might also result in trichotillomania include but are not limited to: depression, anxiety, impulsivity, abuse of alcohol or drugs, and other forms of substance abuse.

In order to rule out any underlying psychological problem, make sure you take your child to see a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist may prescribe medication that can help decrease the impulse to pull hair out.  If you believe your child may have trichotillomania it is important that you seek treatment right away.