Trichotillomania Blog

Research Supports the Efficacy of Internet Therapy

Internet therapy can be as effective, if not more effective than face-to-face therapy with the added bonus that it costs less.

The COVID-19 crisis and subsequent stay-at-home orders have caused numerous life disruptions, with people forced to switch to internet-based therapy. Many mental health providers agree that in-person therapy is by far the best because interpersonal contact is crucial for developing a trusting therapeutic relationship, but new research suggests that internet therapy is just as effective.

A Shift in Perspective

Everyone has a different experience with trichotillomania, and everyone has a different pathway to recovery. Some people do well by training themselves out of behavior patterns, while others require a new perspective. One person, who struggles with trich asked the question, “How would you feel if you were made to pull out someone else’s hair?”

The following are some excerpts from Latent Expressions by Incognito.


“Think about it rationally. How would you feel if you were made to pull out someone else’s hair? Would you like it? Would you feel pleasure in that? Imagine someone close to you. Your loved one – partner, spouse, parent, child – anyone who is close to you. Can you pull out their hair to feel better? You cannot.”

“…you cannot pull out someone else’s hair. Because you know it will be painful for them. Also, you won’t feel that pleasure that you feel when you pull out your hair. That’s precisely the problem then, I guess. I feel pleasure in something that I should feel pain in.” 

Free webinar - coping with the current events (COVID-19)

Managing Trichotillomania, Anxiety and Isolation during the COVID-19 outbreak

The webinar will take place on Thursday, April 9, 18:00 PM EST (US Eastern Time)
 
We are dealing with an unprecedented worldwide health crisis. In this time of confusion and uncertainty, we decided to organize a webinar to help you cope better with the emotional toll of COVID-19. Attend our webinar if you wish to learn how to:
- Manage and reduce your anxiety during this difficult period
- Keep hair pulling under control
- How to be productive during self-isolation
- How to use this time to dive in deeper
 

Webinar will last about 1 - 1.5 hours (depending on the length of the Q&A), with a 45-minute presentation and about 15-45 minutes Q&A time, where we can discuss anything you might be curious about. All participants will get handouts and links to additional resources.

COVID-19 Stress – How to Deal While Managing Compulsive Hair Pulling

Isolation is a hallmark symptom of trichotillomania. People who pull don’t want to be seen because they don’t want anyone to notice how their hairline is different or that they no longer have eyebrows. In therapy, we encourage people with trich to get social support. Now everyone has to isolate.                      

The pandemic of anxiety

Governments around the world are locking down their countries, states, and cities. It’s bad enough that a super contagious silent virus prowls the air, but now we have to adjust to a new way of doing things by staying home.

Therapists call changes in lifestyle like moving or a relationship change a “significant life event” that contributes to very high stress levels. Often these stress levels go unnoticed because people view these events as “normal.” The COVID-19 pandemic sandwiches two very high stress level significant life events: threat of disease and a complete shutdown of life.  

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How to Identify Trich in Children

Compulsive hair pulling can be difficult to identify in children. It causes frustration, embarrassment, and shame not only for the child but also for the parent.

When does it start?

The typical age of onset for trichotillomania in children tends to coincide with the onset of puberty. Since the internal hormonal changes can be difficult to detect, a child could start puberty as early as 8 years old, which is why the typical age of onset for trich tends to be between ages 9 and 13. Some research links trichotillomania onset and severity with sex hormones, especially in girls which means the changing levels of estrogen, progesterone, and adrenocorticotropic hormone can create an environment ripe for developing trich or other BFRBs.

Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/ElisaRiva-1348268/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=2062057">ElisaRiva</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=2062057">Pixabay</a>

Brain Study Sheds Light on Trich Changes Over Time

Anecdotal evidence suggests that trich follows a fairly predictable course over one’s lifetime. Most symptoms start around middle to late childhood with the onset of puberty and increases in severity during adolescence and twenties. However, most people experience lower symptom severity in their 30s and 40s. The changes later in life may result from a variety of factors including changing hormones, improved sense of self or learning to manage pulling behaviors through therapy. However, neurology points to something else.

Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/photos/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=1209131">Free-Photos</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=1209131">Pixabay</a>

Experiential Avoidance and Triggers in Trich

One of the first things that occur in therapy for trichotillomania involves increasing awareness about pulling behaviors. The goal is to help a person become more aware of the triggers, both internal and external, that get the behaviors started. Once those triggers become known, then the person can make an informed choice about whether to pull or do something else.

This summary is a simplistic view of the beginning stages of habit reversal therapy, which is one of the most widely used evidence-based therapeutic interventions for trich. However, sometimes it is not as easy as identifying triggers.

Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/stevepb-282134/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=1079838">Steve Buissinne</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=1079838">Pixabay</a>

Trichotillomania Research Update

Good old-fashioned psychotherapy remains the most effective treatment for trichotillomania. A recently published evaluation of the research suggests that pharmacological treatments lag behind behavioral and cognitive-behavioral therapies.  

The Research Says

A meta-analysis looks at all the available research conducted within a subject area to determine if broader conclusions can be made. In the case of this meta-analysis, the researchers looked for psychological and pharmacological interventions for trichotillomania used with children under age 18. Although they found 129 studies conducted, only 6 met the criteria of being a well-designed study.

Should you try alternative therapies for trich?

The reason alternative therapies are called “alternative” is that they do not have the support of the medical community or approval by the Food and Drug Administration. Does that mean they don’t work? No, it just means they have not been subjected to rigorous research, which would determine if it works as intended or does not work as intended. Before you try an alternative therapy, consider some of the following tips and suggestions.

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Image by mikegi from Pixabay

Trich and Comorbid Disorders

What other conditions are most closely related?

In an effort to understand the risk factors for trichotillomania, researchers continue to look for genetic links between trich and other disorders. As a member of the obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) diagnostic family, there are many similarities between the disorders. One of the most common reasons for misdiagnosis is that trich looks very much like OCD. This blog article from the archives offers a refresher on the differences.

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Online Test for Trichotillomania

Find Out The Severity of Your Hair Pulling With This Free Online Test