What is Trichotillomania?
Trichotillomania – or Hair Pulling Disorder- is characterized by a person’s irresistible urge to twist and pull out their own hair. The person cannot control this behaviour in spite of their hair becoming noticeably thinner. People generally try to hide this conduct, and family members will notice this is happening but without association to any type of disorder. The person affected normally thinks that nobody else shares this problem, not noticing that this phenomenon is in fact more widely spread. This leads the people affected to live the problem with much guilt and shame, maybe causing moments of depression, and can become an obstacle to seeking professional consultation. It is estimated that this disorder may be affecting up to 4% of the population, and probability of occurrence is 4 times higher among women.
Symptoms commonly begin during the early teens. Hair can be lost in patches or throughout the scalp, thereby creating an irregular appearance. People also can remove hair from other areas such as their eyebrows, eyelashes, beard or moustache, and other parts of the body.
The causes of this phenomenon are unknown.
Our Treatment Scheme
Based on over 20 years of experience treating addictions, we have concluded that Trichotillomania behaves like an addiction and can be treated as such, in spite of the absence of a chemical substance to stimulate behaviour repetition.
Based on our patients’ testimonials -mainly women- this Hair Pulling gets stronger over the years affects different aspects of the person’s life, becoming uncontrollable generating high amounts of anxiety and anguish.
We have successfully applied psychological treatment based on the assumption that Trich behaves as an addiction. The main axis of the treatment is for the patient to progressively adopt the decision to change personal conduct. As the Hair Pulling behaviour is stopped, the patient becomes more and more capable of controlling it, biological anchor will go gradually losing strength. As with addictions, this virtuous cycle allows recuperation. In this sense, it is a conduct that behaves similarly to substance addictions.
If the treatment includes one or more close relatives, the chances of success increase considerably. If a person notices that someone close, for instance their couple, daughter, son, sister or brother suffers from Trichotillomania, the recommendation is to take the first step by asking for an appointment. This first session will be dedicated to discussing the best way to make that loved one to decide to seek professional help. Professional treatment will normally be required in order to avoid the disorder becoming chronic.