Could the Stress of COVID 19 Cause Trichotillomania?


trichotillomaniaStress is part of life, whether positive, like starting a new job, or negative, like missing a deadline. While it’s true that stress is universal, we are now facing an unprecedented crisis in mental health due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Though necessary for safety, social distancing measures have isolated us from the people we rely on for support. If you are one of the many people who struggle with destructive habits like trichotillomania, this may be a particularly hard time. You may have already found yourself resorting to old patterns of hair-pulling that you had previously overcome. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone.

It’s Not Just You

According to a recent study from Harvard Medical School, more than half of Americans are feeling more stressed than before the pandemic. Commonly reported feelings included boredom, worry, and frustration about the changes in lifestyle due to Covid-19. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that people with chronic mental health conditions are at greater risk for worsening symptoms during this time.

Coping Skills and Quarantine

It makes sense that people are reaching for unhealthy coping strategies, like repetitive hair pulling, when so many healthy coping skills have been curtailed by the pandemic. These days meeting with friends and family, getting time to yourself, or even going on a walk can be difficult. It’s no surprise that the CDC reports an increase in behaviors like drug and alcohol abuse. Whether it’s substance abuse or something else, people are resorting to troublesome tactics to control their emotions.

Control is Key

Research indicates that control plays a large role in the way trichotillomania develops. According to, “people with trichotillomania experience psychological inflexibility,” which is tied to controlling hair-pulling urges. Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the global pandemic we are facing is the lack of control of the Coronavirus itself. It is no coincidence that so many people are grappling with issues of control. The desire for control is normal, but for people struggling with mental health issues, things may actually be more out of control than ever. If you are one of the many people facing the challenges of trichotillomania, reach out for support. Though we may be separated for now, you don’t have to do it alone.

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