Trichotillomania or hair pulling disorder is a difficult to treat condition that causes excessive and repeated pulling of one’s hair out. Hair pulling out can result in bald patches or even total baldness in some individuals. Many people who suffer from this condition have very high frustration levels and feel helpless about controlling this disorder. The fact is that anyone can suffer from this disorder, regardless of age, race, sex or personality. This condition occurs when individuals develop a habit of pulling one’s hair for no apparent reason.
Hair pulling disorders can be classified into two major categories, namely behavioral type and physical type. People with the behavioral type of this condition tend to exhibit signs such as muscle tension, rapid breathing, sweating and other types of physiological responses to the stimulus of hair pulling. These individuals usually do not notice or take note of their behavior until it is too late. On the other hand, those suffering from physical hair pulling disorder generally pull their hair out on an unconscious basis.
There are many myths about trichotillomania. One such myth is that this condition is caused due to psychological reasons or subconscious motivations. However, the scientific evidence points out otherwise. Various studies have revealed that hair pulling disorder develops due to neurological abnormalities in the brain. Moreover, recent psychological researches have proven that people with obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorder (OCD) also develop trichotilllomania.
Various people pull their hair out for various reasons. Some pull out their hair when they are anxious or frustrated. They may also pull out their hair when they become bored or irritated. It could also occur while engaging in self-mutilation, as in cases of body piercings. However, the most common reason for trichotillomania is hair loss. People suffering from this condition are generally obsessed with hair loss and try to make hair grow on their scalp even though they do not have any hair on their real bodies.
Individuals with trichotillomania can be effectively treated if they learn to control their compulsions. The treatment for trichotillomania usually depends on its underlying cause. In most of the cases, behavioral therapy is given to the patients. This therapy helps the individual in identifying the triggers and preventing themselves from being pulled into such compulsions. The therapy also teaches the patient to monitor and stop hair pulling whenever he/she notices an onset of trichotillomania.
Trichotillomania can be treated using a combination of medication and behavioral therapies. However, in most of the cases, medications alone cannot cure this condition as the triggers of trichotillomania are not known. A statistical manual called theonomic, which includes information about various mental disorders, states that Trichotilllomania is the most common hair pulling disorder among all other obsessive compulsive disorders.
A recent study has suggested that trichotillomania is not curable. The study did not however conclude that trichotillomania is not a disorder but a habit. According to this research, researchers are yet to find out the exact reasons for trichotillomania. Another recent study on this condition has also come up with a negative conclusion. According to this study, those who had been exposed to traumatic events were more likely to develop this condition while those who were exposed to stressful situations were less likely to develop it.
Hair pulling occurs more frequently in young adults. Trichotillomania usually begins during the early developmental stages and gradually continues into adulthood. In young adults, this condition often begins due to emotional trauma resulting from psychological or academic difficulties. People who suffer from trichotillomania are therefore particularly at high risk to develop conditions like anxiety, depression and drug abuse. Although there is currently no absolute cure for this condition, the symptoms can be managed with the help of therapy and medications.