Hair Pulling: Your Guilty Pleasure?

Trichotillomania is the medical term for a condition whereby an individual experiences an irresistible urge to pull out their own hair.  It often occurs when the individual is either anxious, stressed, bored or relaxed, and can become a habitual part of everyday life.

Hair may be pulled from any part of the body, but common areas include the head, eyebrows, and pubic areas. Often hair pulling is associated with a similar condition called dermatillomania which is another impulse-control disorder characterised by the picking of skin.


What Causes Trichotillomania?

There is no known cause for Trichotillomania, but there are several theories.  Some experts think that it may be a form of addiction because the more that act is preformed the more the person will want to do it. This may be due to the release of hormones associated with satisfaction at the time of pulling.

Although short-term relief or satisfaction is experienced, it is very short-term and more commonly trichotillomania causes negative feelings, such as guilt, shame and low self-esteem. In severe cases baldness may become prevalent which can be devastating for the self-image and esteem of the sufferer.


Treatments Available

Little medical research is available for the treatment of trichotillomania, however to-date the most effective treatment is thought to be talking therapies. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that may be recommended. CBT aims to bring about change in the patterns associated with your thoughts and subsequent behaviour thus assisting the person to stop the behaviour of pulling the hair.

Other types of therapy may include psychodynamic therapy. This may be appropriate for anyone who believes they may pull their hair to sooth emotions and anxieties that are historic in nature. Psychodynamic psychotherapy aims to understand the present by understanding the past.

Other treatments include hair pieces and extensions designed specifically for people who pull out their own hair. The hair piece is woven into place making it hard to get the fingers in to pull the hair. Whilst the hair piece is in, the hair underneath can regrow.  This can help by blocking the ability to pull thus breaking the habit and also when the regrown hair is seen a new sense of reward and satisfaction is felt which can sometimes be enough encouragement to stop the sufferer pulling again.

A combination of talking therapies and hair replacement options may be beneficial to those with severe cases of trichotillomania.

If you live in the midlands and wish to speak with a therapist about Trichotillomania, please give us a call today 0116 416 1626.

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