Trichotillomania: Definition and Causes


Often shortened to TTM or trich, trichotillomania is a compulsive disorder in which the sufferer pulls at their hair. Along with the hair on their head, they may pull hair anywhere on their body—including pubic hair and painful areas like the eyelashes or eyebrows. Trichotillomania is a psychological condition and may be linked to other health conditions. Treatment for TTM is possible but can be complicated.

Trichotillomania Symptoms

Someone who suffers from trichotillomania tugs on their hair repeatedly, often pulling it out completely. This behavior can lead to bald patches on the head or the loss of eyelashes or eyebrows.

TTM symptoms vary from person to person, but most people experience the following symptoms:

They pull their hair during or after stressful situations.

They try very hard to stop pulling by putting tension on the hair.

They may feel pleasure or relief after pulling hair.

They may chew, bite, or play with their hair, including running it across their face.

They may prefer specific hair sites and follow a pattern when pulling hair.

Causes of Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is a form of obsessive compulsion and is sometimes classed under the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) umbrella. There is no obvious cause for trich, but sufferers may also experience:



Other forms of OCD

Emotional distress may trigger TTM, as can the imbalance of chemicals within the brain. Note that someone with trichotillomania simply cannot help themselves. They find it irresistible to pull their hair, and sometimes, they won’t be able to relax until they’ve pulled their hair satisfactorily. That’s why seeking treatment is vital to avoid complications and hair loss.

Treating Trichotillomania

The treatment for trichotillomania is usually a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) known as habit reversal therapy. A therapist will take the individual through a variety of ways to change their habits, perhaps replacing the compulsion with something less self-destructive.

Other treatments include focusing on relaxation and self-awareness, as some sufferers of TTM aren’t even aware of when they’re pulling their hair. Family therapy may also help parents support children or young adults struggling with trichotillomania.

If you or someone you know is pulling their hair or has unexplained hair loss, it could be time to seek help. Speak to a professional for the best way forward. If you’re in need of a wig, at Custom Hair Tampa Bay, our made-to-order human hair wigs are so realistic that when you look in the mirror, you may not be able to tell the difference yourself. To schedule a free consultation click here.

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