Trichotillomania – The Hair Pulling Disorder

Trichotillomania is a condition that is largely unrecognised, undiagnosed, and misunderstood. It is a chronic hair pulling disorder, that often results in hair loss. Individuals will pull hair from one or more areas, including but not limited to, the scalp, pubic region, beard, eyebrows, and eyelashed.

The disorder is currently categorized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM5) under Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders. However, due to the lack of research in the field, this was a controversial decision as the cause of trichotillomania is mostly unknown, though preliminary research suggests it is neuro-biological in nature.

In many cases it resembles Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, with feelings of compulsion and the impulse to continue the repetitive behaviour. It can also be compared to a tic disorder, like tourettes, where the action of pulling is automatic in response to an uncomfortable sensation. The disorder typically causes significant distress and/or impairment in social and occupational environments. It is often classified as self-harm behaviour, though sufferers do not usually report pain and usually reject this theory.

Individuals may pull in response to boredom, stress, anger, happiness, or perhaps not realise they’re doing it at all.

The average onset of trichotillomania is 11, though cases have been reported in individuals as young as 12 months. The onset can be relatively sudden, sometimes triggered by sensory events or stressful life events, though often it is spontaneous on onset.

More information can be found at: www.trich.org
For support for suffers and their friends/family: www.facebook.com/groups/trichotillomania/?fref=ts
Featured image credit: Yuki Mizuno

 

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