Trichotillomania: Understanding The Urge To Pull Your Hair Out
Do you know of someone who constantly or repeatedly pulls their hair out? I once had a friend in school who would pull her hair out which later started to look like she had a receding hairline. She would always pull our hair from her forehead.
I would always wonder why would someone do something like that? Only now that I realise that she must have been dealing with trichotillomania.
Did you know that repeatedly pulling your hair out is a pathological condition? You must have seen many people indulge in such an act but not much heat is given to it. This is because of lack of information and knowledge about such psychological disorders.
This blog will cover the symptoms and causes of trichotillomania.
Shall we begin?
What Is The Meaning of Trichotillomania?
Trichotillomania is a mental health disorder which makes a person pull out their hair. There is a constant urge to pluck out hair from their body. Irrespective of the place, the hair pulling can be from the head, face, limbs, eyelashes or any other part of the body.
Trichotillomania has many different name like: a) Trich, b) Hair pulling disorder, c) pathological hair pulling.
Trichotillomania is most commonly seen in teenagers and younger adults. The urge to pull out the hair is mostly irresistible and recurrent. People suffering from hair pulling disorder develop bald spots usually on the head which can cause hindrance in their life.
They face a lot of embarrassment because of those bald spots at the workplace or family gatherings or even when they are running some errands. To escape from the embarrassment trichotillomaniacs can go to any lengths to cover the bald spots.
Let’s look at the signs and symptoms of trichotillomania for a better understanding of the topic.
Symptoms of Trichotillomania
Trichotillomania is easily identifiable. If the person is seen irresistibly pulling their hair out from various parts of their body then they are most likely to be suffering from the hair pulling disorder. Let’s look at some of the signs of trich.
- Constant irresistible urge to pull out hair from various parts of the body
- Extreme stress and tension right before hair pulling or if you try to resist pulling the hair out
- Feel relieved after pulling some hair out
- There is either biting, chewing or swallowing of pulled out hair in some cases
- Rubbing the hair against the skin
- There is an attempt to stop pulling the hair out (often result in failure)
- There is a pattern or ritualised hair pulling
- There is a noticeable hair loss
- Here are some visible problems at work, school or in personal life
Not every person with trichotillomania will have the most severe form. Some just suffer from a mild form of hair pulling disorder. In most cases people dont pull out their hair in public, they will always do it in secret.
There have been cases of trichotillomania who indulge in skin picking, nail biting or pulling hair from other objects like dolls, pillows, etc.
Type of Hair Pulling
Trichotillomaniacs usually have two patterns of pulling the hair out. Most of them belong to either of the 2 types but there are some who exhibit both the types of hair pulling. Let’s see what are the two types of hair pulling in trichotillomania:
1. Focused hair pulling
People who have a focused hair pulling mostly do it purposely. They do it to free themselves of the troubling urge that they get especially when they are stressed. Some of them also have a ritualized way of doing so.
2. Automatic hair pulling
This is when you do not even realise that you are pulling your hair out. It’s almost like an unconscious process. It’s mostly done because of boredom or tension or if you are deeply engrossed in doing something.
What Are The Causes of Trichotillomania?
There are no known specific reasons for developing the hair pulling disorder. Similar to many other mental health disorders, trichotillomania can be caused by some genetic or environmental factors.
- Family history: if you have someone in your family or close relative who has this disorder then you are most likely to develop trichotillomania.
- Age: you may be more vulnerable to the hair pulling disorder when you are in your teens. You can develop the condition at infant stage but that’s usually mild and eventually fades away.
- Prevalence of other mental health disorders: mental health disorders like depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety may lead to trichotillomania.
- Stress and tension: extreme stressful situations can trigger the hair pulling disorder.
Adverse Outcomes of Trichotillomania
- Emotional trauma and distress: Because of the hair pull they are always embarrassed and ashamed which results in decreased self-esteem, alcohol use, anxiety and depression.
- Skin and hair damage: there can be infections or other skin conditions because of constant artificial hair and skin pulling.
- Social disconnect: The hair pulling will make you feel judged and locked and to escape from that you start to avoid socialising or leaving your house at all.
That’s all for Trichotillomania for today! If you wish to read more about it do let us know in the comment section below!
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