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Trichotillomania Disorder : Causes & Treatment

Trichotillomania Disorder : Causes & Treatment
February 21
14:17 2018

What is Trichotillomania Disorder?

Human beings are complex and unique creatures. No two people are the same when it comes to talking, getting social or interacting with family, friends, and acquaintances. Be it life or situations, individuals go through a lot – overtly as well as covertly.  The resilient ones with an internal locus of control face challenges head-on. While those with an external locus of control experience obstacles and emotional turbulence with regards to their daily life. Too much stress eventually drains them out and they end up with either physical ailments or psychological disorders. One such disorder is Trichotillomania Disorder. Many have fallen prey to it – children and adults.

Trichotillomania – Just a hair pulling habit or something else?

To put it in simple words, Trichotillomania Disorder is a psychological disorder where the afflicted individual has this urge to pull out hair from different parts of their body. It could be their scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes or any other area where there’s hair, like arms, legs, chest, underarm or pubic area. Also known as ‘hair pulling’, it was earlier classified as an OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and in the recent past has been referred to as Impulse Control Disorder. People diagnosed with this disorder know for a fact that they may hurt themselves by being impulsive. However, the urge gets the better of them and controlling this behavior becomes impossible. In extreme cases, it leaves people with no eyebrows or eyelashes and bald patches on their head.

Why people do it?

Researchers still aren’t sure but it seems stress bound. For many, it soothes them. This condition becomes second nature and more like a best friend. It kind of does both, comforts as well as wounds. As absurd as it may sound, but for people suffering from  Trichotillomania, this is their way of dealing with anxiety or stress. There’s something about hair pulling which individuals find soothing. The pain that results in pulling hair gives people a ‘feel-good’ feeling. This habit intensifies when someone has chronic tension or anxiety. It generates a calming effect on their nerves and makes them feel in control of a situation. Hair loss due to Trichotillomania pushes people to go into a shell. It further results in them being socially awkward and they suffer from low self-esteem issues. Another reason why people pull hair is self-harm. Trichotillomania causes ‘momentary pain’ which comes under disorders pertaining to self-harm – ‘just for them to feel the rush’. Nonetheless, some people beg to differ.

Few don’t even have compelling reasons but still get diagnosed with Trichotillomania. Pulling of hair, be it anywhere in the body, can arise due to boredom too. Some engage in episodes of hair pulling when they are in a deep thought and don’t want their hands to be idle.  It goes to show that Trichotillomania is an instinctual behavior that can arise due to numerous reasons but most essentially the deep-rooted causes may be due to family history, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety. People suffering from Trichotillomania Disorder don’t want to have this habit but the ‘desire’ is too intense and before realization kicks in, they are already pulling strands of hair on their body.

Can Trichotillomania be treated?

Very much!  But there’s a catch to it. People don’t intend to engage in hair-pulling behavior but consciously or subconsciously they end up doing so. Therefore, stopping it completely may take a while. There will always be a feeling from within that would want people to pluck or pull their hair. This may get tricky when one is bored, anxious or just not paying attention. So, before anyone tries to look for ways to treat this disorder it’s better they keep certain things in mind. To begin with, being aware of themselves and their surroundings. Once they get a grip on that, the habit can be curbed. And looking for other productive ways to soothe oneself can begin. Treatment for Trichotillomania is also available and helped many people to reduce their hair pulling or stop entirely.

The next thing they can do is, keep their hands occupied with little chores here and there.  Be it Sudoku, Scrabble or holding on to a stress ball – individuals have the plethora of options when it comes to keeping their selves busy. Engaging in hobbies like writing, painting along with outdoor sporting excursions can be a good start towards overcoming Trichotillomania.

Treating this condition can begin with habit replacement, which more or less is the same as being aware of one’s self and surroundings. When someone is conscious of the fact that they are indulging in hair-pulling behavior, they can easily replace it with a new effective habit. Relaxation techniques can also be taken into consideration. Listening to affirmations and deep diaphragmatic breathing does wonder for a person’s current state of mind. Extreme or chronic cases of Trichotillomania Disorder can be tackled effectively through Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Systematic Desensitization. To sum it up, we humans are fallible entities and getting diagnosed with psychological disorders isn’t the end of the world. All one needs to do is know how to “manage it” and everything else including life falls into place.

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