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What is Trichotillomania?

Trichotillomania is a compulsive disorder which causes one to pull their hair out uncontrollably when stressed, distressed, or need to relieve tension. Patients will remove hair not only from their scalp, but eyebrows, eyelashes, and other body areas. Some patients have such uncontrollable urges they may not even realize they are doing it. Hair pulling can lead to permanent hair loss by  causing traction alopecia. Many patients don’t move away from the initial pulling location until their episode is over, and they stop pulling. Trichotillomania is not limited to hair either. Picking skin or scabs, biting their nails, and chewing on their lips are also all symptoms. You may even notice symptoms early if your child pulls the hair off dolls, pets, or is known to pull threads from materials such as blankets or couches.

How Emotions Play a Role in Trichotillomania

Depending upon the mood or emotion of the patient, it can help determine whether they are pulling the hair in a focused or automatic fashion. If they perform the ritual out of boredom, the patient may not even realize they are pulling, and it is considered automatic action, much like a child sucking their thumb. If the patient is intentionally pulling their hair out to relieve stress or calm themselves down, it is known as a focused approach. They can also become obsessed with finding the “perfect” hair to pull out, pulling until they find it. Emotions play a significant role in the amount of hair and reasoning behind the initial pulling. Positive feelings from pulling their hair lead to more pulling because they are always trying to obtain that sense of joy it delivers, not realizing the damaging side effects. Patients also use it to combat negative emotions such as anxiety, fatigue, frustration, and more.

When Should You Seek Treatment for Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania can only be diagnosed by the presence of its signs and symptoms because there are no tests designed to find it. There is also no known cause for the disorder. It may be linked to irregularities in the area of the brain that connects emotional regulation, habit formation, movement, and the ability to control your impulses. If there is a family history of trichotillomania, you may be more likely to experience symptoms. Treatment for the disorder will rely heavily on habit reversal training. This behavior therapy helps by replacing the bad habit, such as pulling out your hair with something less harmful to your body and emotions. Aside from formal therapy, many people have found success using temporary hair systems which can block one from pulling their hair. Also, SMP has recently been shown to stop some patients from pulling their hair. The presence of a treatment modality in the affected area can have the effect of dissuading the patient from pulling on their hair.

Seek Help for Trichotillomania from the Freedom Clinic

The Freedom Clinic in Toronto can help you with your hair loss issues and get to the root of the problem. If you suspect you may have trichotillomania, please fill out our online form to schedule an appointment to get the hair loss help you need. You can also set up your consultation over the phone. Reach out at 647-846-8596, and one of our representatives would be happy to help.