What is Trichotillomania?

Trichotillomania is a type of mania where one can not stop pulling their hair. This will result in a noticeable amount of hair loss. It is classified as an impulse control disorder psychologically. Knowing what mental and physical effects are involved in trichotillomania may help you or someone you know deal with it.

Trichotillomania most often starts around the ages of twelve and thirteen. However, it is not uncommon in older and younger people as well. It is usually associated with a stressful event that occurs in ones life.

Abuse, sudden changes in ones lifestyle and family conflict are some of the more common examples that are associated with excessive hair pulling.

Pain or Pleasure

Excessive hair pulling does not have a known medical problem associated with it. Chemical messengers in nerve cells and in the brain begin to react abnormally by the pain, allowing one to think that it is a pleasurable feeling.

However, most say that the problem begins by stressful situations occurring in ones life. Others relate the hair pulling to genetics.

Usually, trichotillomania will begin when one feels an increase in tension. They may also be resisting a certain type of behavior. This tension is then released when one pulls out their hair. As a result, the person is able to feel a type of pleasure and relief when pulling out their hair.

Because of this reinforced feeling, hair pulling then begins to become a habit to release tension. Those who have formed a habit of excessive hair pulling may also try to release this same tension in other ways. This may include things such as nail biting, thumb sucking, head banging or compulsive scratching.

Lone Habituation

Unlike other mental illnesses, this particular problem is not associated with many other problems. It is simply the result of a habit that is formed from stress. Most who have trichotillomania dont have a hard time functioning socially.

Their work and school performance will also most likely not change. The changes that do occur will often from those who have found that one has a problem of pulling out hair. They respond in a negative social way, which then causes more damage.

Many that have trichotillomania may also have other disorders. These are not related to the excessive hair pulling, but rather, are a result of other factors. One of the more well known associations with this mental problem is obsessive-compulsive disorder.

This is where one becomes compulsive with certain routines that take place every day. Depression may also occur as a result of hair pulling.

Social Problems

The largest problem with trichotillomania is the reaction that is given to those with the problem from society and family. Often times, those who have this problem will be made fun of by family and friends, causing emotional damage.

It may also cause physical problems with hair. Several who have had severe problems with hair pulling may find that they have to wear a wig or find other means of replacing the hair that they pulled out.

Like other types of mental illnesses, trichotillomania can be stopped before it causes permanent damage. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help one recognize the habit and help them to overcome it.

In this type of therapy, those with the problem will be requested to keep track of when the problem occurs. With this increased awareness of the problem, the person who has the problem with excessive hair pulling will be asked to substitute the habit with another way to relieve stress.

This can reverse the habit that has been formed, preventing the damage that may occur. There are also several types of medications that are available to help in stopping the habit. However, several of these are only temporary, and the habit should be treated more permanently by stopping the habit.

Traumatic Reaction

Trichotillomania, or excessive hair pulling, is a known mental disorder over several who have experienced some type of trauma or stressful situation. A defense mechanism is then developed in order for them to overcome the situation.

Hair pulling is one of the ways in which this is resolved. For those who have problems with excessive hair pulling, there are several ways in which one can solve the problem in order to help them move past the habit.