Trichotillomania: Symptoms Treatment
Trichotillomania (TTM), also called Compulsive Hair Pulling involves repetitive urges to pull out or tug on ones’ hair, often resulting in small to large bald spots and in some cases, complete baldness. People with Trichotillomania may pull hair specifically from their eyelashes, eyebrows, underarms, chest, legs, pubic area or anywhere where hair grows.
Symptoms of Trichotillomania
- Unsuccessful attempts to stop pulling hair, despite desire and willingness to do so.
- Significant anxiety and depression.
- Eating of hair.
- Gathering and preservation of pulled hairs.
- Social isolation and impairment of daily functioning.
- Excessive attempts to cover up bald spots or hair loss by using scarves, hats, wigs and/or makeup.
- Experiencing a “trance” like state while pulling.
Some people with TTM are aware of their hair pulling while others have little awareness of it, until they have pulled hair out or until they come out of “the trance”. TTM may occur in any setting, but commonly occurs while reading, writing, watching TV, studying, working on a computer, while grooming or while falling asleep.
Trichotillomania Treatment using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness
Overcoming TTM is not as easy as “just stopping” and is not just a matter of willpower. The use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be a very successful way to manage Trichotillomania. Cognitive Therapy teaches people with Trichotillomania to identifying binge urges and triggers and how to restructure their distorted thoughts into more reasonable and rational thoughts.
Behavioral Therapy involves making small, but significant behavioral changes to reduce the chances of hair pulling and to manage life stressors. Habit Reversal Training (HRT) is a behavioral tool used to reduce urges and strategically plan for triggers and events that can increase the likelihood of hair pulling.
Mindfulness can be an incredibly beneficial tool to help those with TTM to become more aware of their urges and tolerate their uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and sensations that often cause them to pull out their hair. (Read more about Mindfulness here)
If you have some or all of these symptoms and feel like the above information describes you, see a qualified mental health professional for an assessment. Click here to contact Kimberley Quinlan, LMFT.