“I’m so frustrated I could pull my hair out!” You’ve probably heard some variation of this statement or uttered it yourself. While it’s unclear who originally coined the “pulling my hair out” phrase, there’s a very real possibility that that person may have suffered from an unusual condition called trichotillomania — also known as recurrent hair pulling.
What is Trichotillomania?
Similar to kleptomania, pyromania, and bruxomania (predilection for stealing, starting fires, and grinding one’s teeth, respectively), trich is an impulse control disorder. In this case, it causes a strong desire to pull out one’s hair (hair on the head, arms, eyelashes, underarms, or pubic areas.) Sufferers of this body-focused repetitive behavior experience noticeable hair loss in affected areas.
What Causes It?
Depending on the individual and the circumstances, sufferers may hair pull when they are bored, anxious, frustrated, or depressed. Sometimes, the action is automatic and people don’t realize they’re doing it. Other times, people have a strong urge to pull hair until they reach a goal – such as creating a bald patch or removing all of their eyelashes.
Who Does Trichotillomania Affect?
Research shows that about 1 to 2 percent of the population has trich in their lifetime. It’s usually begins between the ages of 9 and 13, and affects equal numbers of girls and boys (however, it can affect anyone and manifest at any age.) By adulthood, more than 75% of reported cases are women.
The fact that several well-known celebrities have revealed they suffer from the disorder shows that people with trichotillomania can affect anyone – and that those who have the disorder can lead full, successful lives. Megan Fox, Charlize Theron, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, and Olivia Munn are just some celebrities who have opened up about their struggles with trichotillomania. Trichotillomania ranges in severity from mild (it’s a nuisance) to severe (it causes tissue damage or infection.)
Trichotillomania shares many of the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Often, medications used to treat OCD are helpful in treating hair pulling disorder. In addition to medication, cognitive behavioral therapy and habit-reversal training can be effective tools for managing the disorder.
At Custom Hair Tampa Bay, we use high-quality medical wigs, which can alleviate the added stress of patients worrying about their appearance due to hair loss. To schedule a free consultation at one of our three locations click here.
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