Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often experience co-occurring mental health disorders, including trichotillomania (TTM). Diagnostically, both disorders share some similarities including early onset (in pediatric TTM) and restricted, repetitive behaviors. Both disorders can result in social distress and stigma for the child suggesting that early intervention can be helpful in reducing symptoms as well as the emotional distress that can result.
It is well-established that survivors of domestic violence (DV) often struggle with mental health issues following their abusive experience. They can experience depression, anxiety, post-traumatic disorder and problems with emotional regulation. It is not uncommon for survivors to develop multiple mental health issues including trichotillomania (TTM). However, identifying and treating co-occurring disorders isn’t always a clear path. There are established treatment modalities, such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), that are effectively used to treat certain aspects of post-DV trauma and the resulting emotional dysregulation. New research suggests that some of the same treatment modalities used to treat survivors of domestic abuse may in fact, be helpful in addressing those survivors who experience TTM as well.
Parenting a child is hard on a good day. Having a child who deals with a challenging body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB), such as Trichotillomania, can leave even the most skilled parent struggling to know the best way to parent and support their child.
You want to support and guide your child. You want to protect them from anything that can hurt them. You also want to help them overcome their challenges. Research into child mental health tells us that parenting can play a key role in a child’s mental health and ability to cope in healthy ways. But, knowing just how to do that isn’t always clear and you may have more questions than answers. If you find yourself searching for answers, this article is for you.
When we think of treatments for body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) like hair pulling, we typically think of someone being treated by a therapist using Habit Reversal Therapy (HRT). In fact, HRT is considered the gold standard for the treatment of BFRBs and is most often conducted by a therapist as part of the treatment process.
Avoidance…it’s something we all do. It’s our go-to when we just don’t want to do something. But there’s avoidance of something just unpleasant and then there’s avoidance of emotions that can create distress. In this TrichStop.com webinar, Dr. Vladimir Miletic talks about emotional avoidance and how avoiding difficult emotions and memories may lead to hair pulling.
What Avoidance Is and Why We Do It
Emotional avoidance occurs when a person is unwilling to deal with certain private experiences such as body sensations, emotions, or thoughts and takes steps to alter the form or frequency of these events and the contexts in which they occur. Dr. Miletic frames this behavior as the things a person is willing to do to minimize or change their experience so they don’t have to deal with it.
We use avoidance behaviors all the time. Some are relatively benign. Others, like hair pulling, can have significant, often unintended, consequences. So, the question is, why do we avoid if we know that it causes problems?
They say for every problem, there’s a solution. Well, that might be true, but it depends on how you define the solution. When you’re looking for answers to a problem, there’s no shortage of recommendations, stories, and downright fantastical tales of overnight cures. A quick spin around the internet will yield thousands of promises, cures, and magical treatments all promising relief for BFRBs like hairpulling and skin picking. Some of them even sound plausible. It’s tempting to latch on to whatever “sounds” good. The problem is, how do you know if it actually is helpful?
If you struggle with a BFRB, you’ve no doubt done your share of searching for relief. In your search for treatment, you’ve probably come across the term “evidence-based treatment” or EBT. It sounds good, right? But what does “evidence-based” really mean? More importantly, what does EBT mean for people living with BFRBs?
The answers lie in science.
BFRBs are not a single disorder but a group of disorders characterized by repetitive behaviors that cause injury to the body. BRFBs include trichotillomania (hair pulling), excoriation (skin picking), onychophagia (nail biting), morsicatio buccarum (cheek biting), and others. While each of these disorders is different in its focus on the body, they do share common trajectories. BFRBs result in varying degrees of physical injury to the body and can markedly impair emotional and social functioning. BFRBs are relatively common and not everyone will have significant problems. However, for those that do, finding treatment that can reduce symptoms and improve their quality of life is a priority and sustained effort.
In a recent TrichStop.com webinar, Dr. Vladimir Miletic tackled the topic of hair-pulling “trances”. While this behavior is something we know happens, there is surprisingly little literature on this phenomenon. Much of what we know about trance pulling comes from anecdotal evidence. In other words, people report doing it and talk about it. So, just what do we know about trances? Turns out, quite a bit.
Defining A Hair Pulling Trance
A hair-pulling trance is a prolonged episode of hair-pulling that is all-engaging. The person becomes intently focused and completely absorbed in the experience of pulling. They may be completely unaware of what’s happening around them and they might not even be aware that they’re pulling. As a result, the use of competing responses is rather ineffective because they’re not going to attend to it. The focus of the trance is pulling.
When it comes to physical health, the benefits of healthy lifestyle habits are well-known. Actions like maintaining a proper diet, exercising, not smoking, and getting enough sleep have been shown to improve many health conditions. What you might not know is that lifestyle habits can also have an effect on mental health. A growing body of evidence has linked healthy lifestyle habits to improvement in conditions like depression, anxiety, and ADHD. Now, research suggests that sleep quality can have a major impact on trichotillomania (TTM).
A new study in the journal Comprehensive Psychiatry looked at the effects of sleep quality on trichotillomania (TTM) and skin-picking disorder (SPD). What they found could be a game-changer for people dealing with body-focused repetitive behaviors.
While trichotillomania (TTM) can occur at any age, the onset is most often seen in children ages 10-13, and more common among females. Some studies suggest that it’s not uncommon to seek out a dermatologist for treatment. After all, trichotillomania and skin picking present with distinct dermatological issues. But, these disorders also have distinct psychological underpinnings that perpetuate the behavior that creates skin and hair issues. Other studies suggest that people tend to seek out mental health support. Determining who to see and when isn’t always clear. So, the logical question one might ask is, “Do I need a psychiatrist or a dermatologist?” When it comes to body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) and some other skin disorders, the answer seems to be both.
Online Test for Trichotillomania
Find Out The Severity of Your Hair Pulling With This Free Online Test