What is Trichotillomania or Hair Pulling Disorder?
Trichotillomania (pronounced: trick-oh-till-oh-may-nee-ah), also known as trich or sometimes just TTM, is a condition where someone can’t resist the urge to pull out their hair, either on their head from the scalp, eyebrows or eyelashes or from other parts of their body such as their armpits or genital area.
The most common method of hair pulling amongst sufferers is to use their fingers. However, some sufferers also use tweezers or other instruments.
Although Trichotillomania is listed under ‘Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Related Disorders’ in the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), similarly to skin picking, it is not exactly the same as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and might better be listed as a ‘body-focused repetitive behaviour’, in fact it was once considered as an impulse control disorder.
So whilst there are some compulsive and ritualistic similarities between the two there are also important differences. Primarily, OCD is driven by unwanted intrusive thoughts (the obsessions), for example fears of bad things happening, where compulsions are carried out in an attempt to prevent bad things happening. Whereas Trichotillomania is characterised primarily by body-focused repetitive behaviour (pulling at hair) to reduce tension/stress, or even out of habit, rather than being initiated by an unwanted intrusive thought.
People with the problem feel an intense urge to pull their hair out and they experience growing tension until they do. After pulling their hair out, they feel a sense of relief. Sharing similarities with skin picking disorder, a person may sometimes pull their hair out in response to a stressful situation, or it may be done without really thinking about it.
One of the consequences of Trichotillomania is that a sufferer may be left with bald patches which can often have an unusual shape and affect one side more than the other. It can lead to them attempting to cover up their hair loss by using camouflage techniques that include hats, scarves, and false eyelashes. Some may even resort to having false eyebrows permanently tattooed. Sometimes when hair loss can’t be covered, sufferers will avoid social interactions, causing feelings of shame and low self-esteem. Those affected may try to keep their condition to themselves because of the aforementioned shame or embarrassment.
Source: OCD UK
My experience with Trichotillomania/ Hair Pulling Disorder
My own experience with Trichotillomania or Hair Pulling Disorder was when I was in college and going through a very stressful time with exams. I noticed a hair on my chin and as a girl who would want that so I got a tweezers and removed it. This seemed like a normal thing to do however when I saw any hair growing back on this area I would pluck it with tweezers.
When I was worried about something or extremely anxious I would spend hours a day even into the middle of the night making sure I had every hair plucked from my chin. This lead into years of doing this behaviour which was a coping mechanism for dealing with Anxiety. When I started to pluck I would get an instant sense of relief from the anxiety feelings I was feeling at the time. I would spend hours ruminating about an issue in my life and be pulling out hair from my chin at the same time.
In my experience when you begin to pluck it is a vicious cycle, as you get a sense of relief from the anxiety you feel, however it leads to feelings of shame and low moods.
I began to research this issue I had in my life for years and found a condition called Trichotillomania. Anyone that is reading this and suffers with Trichotillomaniaor can’t stop pulling out hair will know it seems impossible not to pull out the hair as the impulse is so strong.
This is a very debilitating issue as it can lead to people avoiding social interactionsdue to embarrassment and shame.
I am very happy to say I no longer suffer with Trichotillomania as I have healed the root of the issue and learned healthy skills to deal with life’s challenges.
Hair Pulling Disorder Treatment
I offer treatment for Trichotillomania or Hair Pulling Disorder which involves balancing the nervous system and learning new mechanisms to deal with anxiety and stressful situations. In my experience Hair Pulling Disorder is an anxiety disorder and once we can treat the root of the anxiety which is from the nervous system then we can heal Trichotillomania.
The Hair pulling disorder treatment will help you to eliminate pulling out hair regardless of where in the body you are doing this.
The treatment also looks at empowering you to do a daily practise of breathwork that will in time eliminate Trichotillomaniaor Hair pulling disorder which ultimately is a coping and soothing mechanismto deal with Anxiety.