Trichotillomania – The Serious Medical Problem of Hair Pulling Disorder
Trichotillomania is one of the most common conditions in which people have baldness as a result of clogged hair follicles. The condition is also called “tic disorder.” Trichotillomania is more prevalent in boys than in girls, but it can affect anyone at any age. In fact, many children develop this condition while still under the age of ten.
Trichotillomania can be difficult to treat, since it is sometimes confused with other emotional disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, Major Depression, and Bipolar Disorder. Because of this, it is often considered a “catch-all” term that can apply to a wide variety of conditions. It has been difficult to formulate effective treatments for trichotillomania that are both general and specific to this condition.
Trichotillomania can begin at any age, but it typically begins at around the age of ten years. Some children may begin pulling hair out when they are toddlers, while others may begin pulling hair at a much older age. Although it appears that genetic predisposition plays a large role in whether or not a person will develop trichotillomania, there is not strong evidence to support this hypothesis. Trichotilllomania often begins in the childhood years, which makes it particularly difficult to treat and to cure since hair pulling can often become a chronic habit.
People with trichotillomania will often experience intense urges to clip or cut hair, which often occur when the sufferer is experiencing stress or anxiety. Although some people perceive that these urges are just indications of poor personal hygiene, there is no physical indication that hair loss is the result of emotional stress. While it’s generally accepted that stress can be a significant trigger for hair loss, there is no definitive proof that Trichotillomania is caused by stress. Instead, the condition appears to be the result of a distorted view of social situations and stimuli.
Although many will seek help for trichotillomania, many are also reluctant to do so because of negative thoughts about being a “waste of time”. Unfortunately, many people fail to realize that while they may have a disorder, they are still whole and healthy individuals who simply have a behavioral problem that stems from a chemical imbalance in their brain. With this understanding, it becomes easier to realize that if you truly wish to stop pulling hair, you must first accept that you have a problem. This realization alone will empower you and encourage you to seek help before you decide that you cannot handle the situation.
If you’ve tried to deal with your impulse control disorder symptoms without success, you may want to try behavioral therapy known as habit reversal training. This therapy is similar to the popular habit therapy techniques used for individuals with OCD. However, in contrast to OCD where the goal is to stop focusing on an impulse to focus on behavior, here the goal is to focus on the behavior until it no longer triggers an urge. This can be achieved through repeated rehearsal of the behavior until it becomes a habit. This is then followed by replacing the old habit with the new one. Because of this cognitive switch, trichotillomania does not appear to be an absolute condition but more like a moderately severe OCD symptom that can be successfully managed through therapy.
One important thing to note is that you must be completely aware that you are pulling hair in order to have any hope of beating this condition. While trichotillomania is sometimes confused with an impulse or urge to pull out your hair, it is not. Trichotillomania is an obsessive compulsive disorder and you will need to consult your doctor to make sure that there is nothing medically wrong with you. Trichotillomania is not due to an inability to control yourself, so if you suffer from this condition you will still have the ability to live a normal life and work, etc. There are actually medications available to treat trichotillomania which should provide a better option for those who don’t wish to go through therapy.
Trichotillomania is often considered a milder form of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), however the fact is that it shares many symptoms with OCD and other anxiety disorders. People with trichotillomania may also experience other psychological problems such as social phobia and generalized anxiety. If you’ve been pulled into hair-pulling because of other mental disorders, it is important to ensure that you get proper treatment to combat the symptoms and not just suppress them.