What is trichotillomania?
Trichotillomania is an enfeebling psychiatric condition characterized by recurrent pulling of one’s hair, leading to hair loss and marked functional impairment. It is classified under obsessive-compulsive and related disorder and involves irresistible urges to pull hair from scalp, eyebrows, eyelids and other areas of the body. Some people with trichotillomania also heat their pulled hair; this condition is known as trichophagia. It can cause significant problems related to the gastrointestinal tract.
Symptoms of trichotillomania
A person with trichotillomania may experience the following behavioural and physical symptoms:
- Repetitive pulling of hair without awareness and a sense of relief after pulling
- Inability to stop
- Skin irritation or tingling effect after pulling
- Playing with pulled hair, rubbing across the face or skin
- Noticeable hair loss, bald patches due to hair pulling
Psychosocial dysfunction, low self-esteem, and social anxiety are also associated with trichotillomania.
Hair pulling can also involve varying degrees of awareness;
- Focused hair pulling: People engage to experience tension relief from pulling hair.
- Automatic hair pulling: Without realizing that they are pulling hair. They do it when they are bored, watching television or doing any mindless activity.
- Mixed hair pulling: engage in a mix of both behavioural styles i.e.
Focused and automatic hair pulling.
Psychotherapy: HRT (Habit reversal Therapy) Consists of 5 stages
- Awareness training: The individual identifies psychological and environmental factors that can trigger hair pulling.
- Competing for response training: Replaces hair-pulling behaviour with some other behaviour.
- Motivation and compliance: Individuals to receive praise from family and friends for progress.
- Relaxation training: The patient is relaxed through meditation and deep breathing that relieves stress.
- Generalization training: New skill practices so that new behaviour becomes permanent.
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), antidepressants
- Clomipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant
- Olanzapine an antipsychotic drug
Sometimes, trichotillomania goes away on its own with time.
Submitted by “Ghazia Tehrim”