What is Trichotillomania?

By Stephanie Osuba

Trichotillomania is a hair pulling disorder categorized in the Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders section in the DSM-5. It is one of the other Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs) – along with excoriation (skin picking) and onychophagia (nail biting) – in which the individual will pull, pick or bite at various parts of the body resulting in damage.  Symptoms include recurring hair pulling, hair loss, and related stress and impairment because of the behavior. The disorder is not considered self-mutilation like cutting or burning because the behavior is not intentional and research suggests that there is no connection between the disorder and unresolved trauma. Often people are ashamed of the behavior and their resulting appearance because of it and try their hardest to stop. Comorbidities include, tic disorders, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders, although, trichotillomania can also occur in the absence of any other psychopathology.  The regular age of onset is between the ages of 11 and 13, however, baby trichotillomania is a rare phenomenon that seems to go away as the child grows older. Research also suggests that the disorder is primarily genetic as it appears in the first relatives of people with trichotillomania than it does in the general population.

Available treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and habit reversal training (HRT) with adjunctive dialectal behavioral therapy (DBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). These therapies help the person to be aware of the pattern of the behavior and helps to identify triggers to pulling. It also teaches methods to redirect that urge to pull into a new healthy pattern of behavior in order to reduce or eliminate the urge. While there is no FDA-approved medication specifically for BFRBs, research is being conducted. OCD medication such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and anafranil can help alleviate symptoms as well.

Sources: Deibler, M. W., Psy. D. (n.d.). Trichotillomania (TTM) and related Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs). Retrieved from http://www.thecenterforemotionalhealth.com/trichotillomania-and-related-disorders

Zwolinski, R., LMHC. (2013, October 03). Cause And Treatment Of Trichotillomania. Retrieved from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/therapy-soup/2012/04/cause-and-treatment-of-trichotillomania/

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from trichotillomania, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Trichotillomania

By: Cassie Sieradzky

Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder characterized by the urge to pull out one’s hair. An individual with trichotillomania can pull hair from any part of their body, however the eyebrows and scalp are the most common places. If not treated, this disorder can come and go throughout an individual’s lifetime and persist for weeks, months, or years.

Trichotillomania is more common in females and is seen in 1%-2% of the population. The onset of this disorder is most commonly seen in preadolescents or young adults. The cause of this disorder in unknown, however it can be triggered by anxiety or stressful life events such as family conflict. Anxiety disorders, depression, and OCD are commonly associated with trichotillomania. Behavioral therapy and medication are often successful in treating this disorder.

Common Symptoms:

•Recurrent pulling out hair resulting in noticeable hair loss
•An increasing sense of tension before pulling out the hair or when resisting the behavior
•Pleasure, gratification, or relief when pulling out the hair
•The disturbance is not accounted for by another mental disorder and is not due to a general medical condition (dermatological condition)
•Repeated attempts have been made to decrease or stop hair pulling
•The behaviors cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (loss of control, embarrassment, or shame)
•Hair pulling may be accompanied by a range of behaviors or rituals involving hair (rolling hair between the fingers, pulling strands between one’s teeth, biting hair into pieces, or swallowing hair)

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from Trichotillomania, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling). (2017, March 29). Retrieved February 13, 2018, from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/trichotillomania-hair-pulling