Trichotillomania is a disorder and a psychological problem where a patient has strong urges to pull their hair. Sort of like blushing where the person has strong urges to not blush but they cant stop it. Patients who have this problem have been found to have a problem in stopping the behavior even when patches of bald spots are left on areas with hair.
Individuals with this psychological disorder pull hair from various body areas such as the head, the eyebrows and eye lashes.
Experts have been unable to come up with the exact cause of the disorder but research has shown that abnormalities in brain pathways which are linked to areas connected with movement, habit formation and impulse control among others may be the cause.
Others have come to the conclusion that the problem may be genetic meaning it is passed from one family member to another through their lineage. Stress and anxiety are also causes which lead to the psychological disorder.
- Repeated behavior of pulling one’s hair from the scalp, eye brows and eye lashes.
- The patient has an increased sense of tension before they start to pull on their hair.
- Patients with trichotillomania feel a sense of pleasure or relief when they are doing so.
- People who have this problem are characterized with shortened hair or bald patches on the scalp and even other areas of the body.
- Biting or chewing on one’s hair is one of the symptoms that is common.
- Patients have been known to play or rub hair they have pulled from various body areas across their face or lips.
- Problems at work or social life which make the individual withdrawn
- People who pick their skin or bite their nails or chew on their lips have been found to have the hair pulling disorder.
How is it diagnosed?
Experts do not have a sure test for determining patients who have the disorder but they check the signs and symptoms that are present.
Individuals who have the disorder can be
This means that people who pull on their hair do so intentionally with the purpose of either relieving tension or stress for example an individual may pull their hair in order to get relief from the urge of pulling hair.
Individuals may pull their hair automatically without them even realizing that they are doing it. This may be brought about by them being bored or while watching TV or reading a book.
Habit reversal training
This is a treatment for trichotillomania where a specialist helps a patient by replacing their bad habit or desire of pulling hair with a good habit. Specialists help the patient to be aware of when and where the overwhelming urge of pulling hair begins.
Through weekly and bi-weekly sessions, a patient is taught how to relax and be able to do something else which does not involve hurting themselves. Habit reversal training involves hypnosis during which the psychiatrist introduces new behavior for the patient to focus on.
There are several drugs available to patients who have this disorder. Paxil, Lithium and other drugs that belong in the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors group have been known to help patients to avoid the behavior of pulling hair.
The drugs contain anti depressant and anti obsessional properties which are beneficial in treating the patient.