Trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh), commonly known as hair-pulling disorder, is a mental disease characterised by repeated, overwhelming cravings to remove hair from your scalp, eyebrows, or other parts of your body despite your best efforts to stop. Pulling hair from the scalp frequently results in patchy bald areas, which can be distressing and impede with social or occupational performance. Trichotillomaniacs will go to considerable efforts to conceal their hair loss.
Trichotillomania is a condition that affects certain people but is usually minor and controllable. Others find it difficult to resist the impulse to pluck hair. Many people have been able to minimise or stop tugging their hair with the aid of certain treatment alternatives.
Impact & Consequences
Trichotillomania is a minor issue for some people, only a source of aggravation. However, for many people, shame and humiliation over hair pulling leads to unpleasant isolation and mental discomfort, putting them at risk for a co-occurring psychiatric disease such a mood or anxiety disorder.
Hair pulling may cause a lot of stress and lead to damaged relationships with family and friends. Family members may require expert assistance in dealing with this issue.
Pruritus, tissue damage, infection, and muscle or joint repetitive motion injuries are also typical side effects. Those who consume the pulled hair or sections of it may have gastrointestinal distress or develop a trichobezoar (hairball in the intestines or stomach), which can cause gastrointestinal obstruction and necessitate surgical treatment. Trichobezoars are a major concern for those who eat hair, although their rarity.
What Is Trichotillomania & How Does It Affect You?
Trichotillomania (TTM) is a disease marked by an insatiable need to pluck or remove one’s own hair, resulting in alopecia (hair loss). Trichotillomania, also known as trichotillosis or hair-pulling condition, is a mental disease characterised by excessive hair pulling.
Trichotillomania (TTM) is a disorder in which some individuals feel compelled to pluck their own hair out. It is capable of affecting persons of all ages. TTM is a condition in which people remove hair from their scalp, brows, eyelashes, or pubic region at the root.
Large clumps of hair are pulled by some persons with the disorder, resulting in bare areas on the head or brows. Others yank their hair out one strand at a time. After taking the strand out, they may investigate or play with it. After pulling the hair, around half of patients with trichotillomania put it in their mouths.
Some people are acutely aware of their gravitational pull. Others appear to perform it in a completely unfocused manner, as if they aren’t even aware of what they’re doing. Avoiding the temptation to pull out one’s hair is as difficult for persons with trichotillomania as resisting the urge to scratch an extremely bothersome itch.
Some persons claim that the impulse to pull begins with an itch or tickle in their scalp or skin. Hair pulling appears to be the only method to gain relief. People may have a temporary sense of satisfaction after ripping their hair out.
TTM can make people feel humiliated, annoyed, ashamed, or sad. They can be concerned about what others will think or say. People who don’t realise that they’re not doing this on purpose may nag them.
People who suffer from trichotillomania often try to hide their condition from others, including their families. It may be difficult to obtain assistance as a result of this. TTM can have a negative impact on one’s self-esteem.
Some people are self-conscious about their looks as a result of hair tugging. They may be more hesitant to make new acquaintances or date. Others may feel unable to resist the temptation to pull or blame themselves for failing to do so.
How Common is Trichotillomania (TTM)?
TTM is believed to impact 5-10 million Americans, according to the Massachusetts General Hospital Trichotillomania Clinic. According to one university research, 6 out of 1000 people will get TTM at some point throughout their lives. Many more obsessive hair-pullers fail to fulfil diagnostic criteria.
TTM appears to be on par with other significant mental illnesses in terms of prevalence (e.g. panic disorder). Due to patient secrecy or a lack of professional inquiry, they are undervalued.
Who gets TTM?
Up to 4% of the general population is thought to suffer from trichotillomania. It can afflict both men and women of any age group, however it is more frequent in youngsters than in adults. Peak onset is more common in pre-school and early adolescent, around puberty.
Trichotillomania (TTM) affects both boys and girls equally in childhood, however it is more common in females as they get older. It’s unclear if this is due to the fact that women are more inclined than males to seek help. Hair pulling can also be disguised by shaving or as male pattern baldness.
Although the specific causation of trichotillomania is unknown, it appears to be caused by a combination of biological and behavioural factors. People who have relatives with trichotillomania are at a slightly increased risk of having the disease, indicating that it may be hereditary. People with trichotillomania may also suffer from depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
However, studies show that anomalies in brain networks involved in emotion regulation and impulse control may be the cause. Dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters (brain chemicals), are thought to play a role in the condition.
- Hair pulling from any region of the body on a regular basis
- It might be for a few minutes at a time many times a day, or it can be for several hours at a time.
- It might come from one or more bodily components
- Loss of hair in regions where hair is plucked out
- Difficulty resisting the impulse to shave one’s head
- Hair-pulling behaviour may come and go over time, lasting a few weeks, months, or years, and varying in degree and intensity
- A brief sigh of relief while removing hair
- Are you concerned, unhappy, or ashamed about your hair loss?
- Has a hard time or expends a lot of effort to hide hair loss
- Hair loss makes it difficult to participate in school, employment, social, and recreational activities
- A hairball that needs to be surgically removed (for those who chew or eat the pulled hair)
People with trichotillomania experience increasing stress or a want to pull their hair, whether it’s on their scalp, brows, or crotch. Pulling a hair out relieves anxiety and provides a sense of accomplishment.
It can help to relieve tension and anxiety, and it can even happen without you realising it. Feelings of tension might set off a session of hair pulling. Hair-pulling can also occur while people are calm, such as when they are reading or watching television.
Hair-pulling can cause apparent bald or thin places, despite the fact that persons with the disorder and their families may assume it’s just a habit. People may go to considerable lengths to hide their hair loss out of embarrassment and humiliation at not being able to stop it. To avoid being discovered, they may shun social contacts and activities or disguise themselves with a hat, wig, or make-up.
Other physical signs and symptoms include:
- Infected and inflamed skin
- Irreversible skin and hair follicle damage
- Repetitive usage damage to the hand
The effects on a person’s physical, emotional, and social well-being can be upsetting. Anxiety and despair are common side effects of trichotillomania.
Experts are divided on whether or not medicine should be used to treat certain conditions. However, naltrexone and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been reported to alleviate certain symptoms. It’s also possible that behavioural treatment and habit reversal can help.
Because it leads to early treatment, early diagnosis is the best form of prevention. Stress can exacerbate obsessive behaviour, therefore reducing it can assist.