Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder, a body-focused repetitive behavior in which the deceased is observed to pull out his hair. Hairs present on any part of the body may be pulled in trichotillomania but usually, the hairs present on the scalp, eyelashes, and eyebrows are pulled. Usually, 1 to 2 percent of adults and adolescents suffer from this mental disorder. A lot of research is being done in order to classify the cause, symptoms, and cure of this disorder as if untreated trichotillomania may only rest with you in your grave.
In order to find the cure for any disorder it needs to be diagnosed and before that you need to know the symptoms. Prominent symptoms include-
• Increasing sense of tension before the hairs are pulled.
• Relief or pleasure after pulling the hairs
• Noticeable hair loss by continuous pulling
• No other dermatological disorder observed
• Deceased is making attempts to stop the habit of pulling hairs.
• Deceased is observed with unusual behavior including biting of teeth, twisting them in fingers and pulling them between the teeth.
Individuals who suffer from this disorder are usually observed to be distressed due to the feeling of embarrassment or shame and they usually escape out from public situations.
Onset of Disorder
The most common age at which this disorder is first observed is between the ages of 9 to 13 years. Pulling of hairs might be seen in infants too but this behavior resolves during the early stage of development. This behavior continues to prevail in those who were left untreated and they suffer from this disorder during various stages of the lifetime. The beginning of this disorder is usually followed or accompanied by a feeling of anxiety or boredom. Unpleasant events like abuse, internal conflicts in family or death of some loved one trigger the trichotillomania.
Adolescence is the most crucial time for the development of the mind and body of any individual. Body image, self-confidence, and self-respect, relationship with friends and family etc. are developed during this age. Trichotillomania directly affects all these developments as even a small bald path caused by repeated pulling of hairs may build a feeling of shame or embarrassment in front of friends and family and the child might begin to escape out from all social gatherings or public spots.
After a lot of research and experiments, it was concluded that there is no certain cause of this disorder but currently it is viewed as a medical illness. According to a biological theory, trichotillomania may have been caused due to disruption in the chemical messenger between the brain and the nerve cells. However, the most common concluding cause that can be considered is trauma or stress that may have been triggered due to a lot of reasons. People start feeling pleasure at pulling the hairs out of their body and this clearly indicates that this is a mental disorder caused because of taking excessive stress.
Some theories also draw the similarities between trichotillomania and obsessive-compulsive disorder. As in OCD, the person is observed with symptoms like compulsive washing, checking or counting. People suffering from trichotillomania usually report the signs of depression as they generally adopt repetitive behavior of biting nails, sucking their fingers and compulsive scratching. Pickling of skin can also be seen as a consequence of trichotillomania.
In order to protect the individuals from consequences that are accompanied with this disorder a proper treatment after diagnostics is a must so that this repetitive habit of pulling down of hairs that may cause other problems can be ended. This disorder can be effectively cured at any age by using two techniques namely therapy and medication. Based on the severity of the disorder observed, the patient may be treated by using the technique or a combination.
It is one of the most effective and a safe method to treat the disorder as it is not accompanied by any side or after effects. In order to give a behavioral therapy, a structured method is framed which helps the deceased to track the symptoms of the disorder and associated behavior so that the first step of prevention can be taken. Involvement in new activities involving focus is designed for them in order to reverse this behavioral habit of pulling hairs in them.
The only problem with behavioral therapy is that it is quite slow. Medications, on the other hand, help the individual with a temporary solution and the symptoms may return on discontinuing them. A combination of the two is used to provide the most effective treatment. Medications are effective at reducing the depression and any obsessive-compulsive disorder that the person might be experiencing. Commonly used medicines for this treatment are fluoxetine, lithium carbonate, sertraline, clomipramine, paroxetine, and fluvoxamine.
The Bottom Line
Pulling your hairs to gain pleasure is a mental disorder that may lead to many physical and psychological problems in the future including hair loss. The major symptoms of this disorder include- urge to pull hairs, pleasure at doing such things, small bald patch at that reason, depression, seclusion from social gatherings and places etc. that can be tracked down easily in order to provide the required treatment to the individual.
Researches confirmed the stress and trauma as the main reason behind this behavioral disorder while more work is to be done on the topic to explore more possible causes. Both medicinal and therapeutic treatments are available and one of the two or a combination can be used to treat the disease. Stop pulling your hairs for it may invite other troubles and get treated to leave this habit.