Trichotillomania is a body-focused repetitive behavior (impulse control disorder) characterized by repetitive hair pulling which causes noticeable hair loss. An individual with Trichotillomania may initially feel anxious or tense either just prior to pulling out the hair or when trying to resist the urge to pull. Next, there may be a sense of pleasure, gratification, or relief while pulling out the hair. However, conversely, the hair pulling ultimately results in a significant impairment in social, academic or other functioning.
The signs or indicators that one has Trichotillomania may include:
- bald spots or patches of thinning hair on the scalp,
- extremities or pubic area; loss of eyelashes;
- and loss/thinning of eyebrows.
Other physical evidence may include clusters of hair on the floor, on car seats, in bed sheets etc…
Adverse affects of Trichotillomania on the individual may include: self-consciousness, embarrassment or feeling “out-of-control” both due to the inability to abate hair pulling urges and from the physical result of hair loss. As a result, the person may avoid social situations, isolate in school or work, act irritable or become depressed.
Habit Reversal Training (HRT) and Stimulus Control techniques are the proven therapeutic modalities used to treat Trichotillomania.