Medical conditions of all kinds can cause enormous frustration. When sufferers are faced with a medical issue that is ongoing in their lives, they may feel unable to so anything about it. While treatment methods exist to treat many common medical issues, such medical treatments may not alleviate all of the sufferer's medical symptoms. This is particularly true of a condition called trichotillomania or trich. Trich is a disorder that affects many people of varied backgrounds. The condition is one where people may feel the compulsion to pull on their hair. Trich is what is known as an impulse control disorder. Those with this condition frequently feel the urge to literally remove all of their including the hair on their head and the hair on other parts of their body as well. Sufferers usually feel really tense before they pull the hair. Once they have pulled the hair or a few hairs, the tension they feel is released, allowing them to feel better.
Trichotillomania or simply just “trich” is an disorder on the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Spectrum and is characterized by the irresistible urge to pull out one’s hair and is usually persistent and difficult to treat. This usually leads to hair loss or balding (depending on the affected area of pulling), distress and in many cases, functional or social impairment. This hair pulling disorder affects just a small percentage of the general population (1% to 4%) but unfortunately, it is often a mistreated and underdiagnosed disorder. Although it is usually thought to be a disorder that primarily affects women; the male patients’ clinical presentation may be unique. When assessing and treating this disorder, sex difference may be a major factor. In most cases, there are many similarities in male and female patients of trich, but there are important differences to note as well.
What is trichotillomania?
The Mayo Clinic states that trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder that becomes an overwhelming compulsion to pull out your hair at the roots. The sufferer knows that the compulsion is not healthy but is unable to control himself or herself. The results are not only physical, i.e. bald patches that the sufferer goes to great lengths to cover up, but also emotional, which is to say depression, anxiety, and shame. Paradoxically, the act of hair pulling provides an immediate release from the compulsion until it builds up again. The compulsion to pull hair can be slight and relatively easy to control with therapy or severe and virtually uncontrollable.
The beginning of a new school year can bring on a mix of emotions—it is both exciting and nerve-wrecking. If you are a college freshman or recently changed schools, this time of year may even be a little daunting. For some people, stress can be very overwhleming and they develop unhealthy or destructive coping mechanisms. While there is no known definitive cause for trichotillomania, there is evidence that stress can be a major trigger for the onset of compulsive hair pulling. Hair pulling is often reported to provide a sense of release from tension. According to Mental Health America, about 1-2% of adults and adolescents suffer from the disorder, recognized by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) as related to Obessive Compulsive Disorder. Hair pulling can be triggered by stressful events, even something as seemingly routine as the new school year.
Trichotillomania is a condition in which the affected person compulsively pulls their hair out. Studies show that many Trich sufferers suffer from problems with interpersonal relationships. They may avoid social activities like swimming, haircuts, and relationships. Many Trich sufferers suffer from low self esteem, shame, feeling unattractive, depression, and secretiveness. While you may feel alone if you have Trich, it is important to know that it is thought that it is believed 4% of the population has Trich.
When most people say, “I want to pull my hair out!” it is associated with frustration. For some, it is not a saying to illustrate their frustration; it’s an uncontrollable urge they cannot ignore. If you or someone you care about is suffering from trichotillomania or dermatillomania, you may be looking for answers - What it is, if it’s a real disorder or not, what causes it, and what's the treatment. First, you should know that whether you’re a loved one or someone suffering from either of these, you are not alone. These disorders are classified as obsessive-compulsive and related disorders (OCD-R) and described as body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRB).
No woman would ever want to look at themselves in the mirror and see bald patches. Yet, this is what some women who pull their hair out compulsively have to experience, living with the knowledge that they have caused that damage to their own hair. This condition, known as trichotillomania can cause guilt, shame and a reluctance to be seen in public and results in many attempts to cover up the bald patches. Victoria, a young woman living in Scotland experienced this shame since she started pulling her hair out at the age of 14, after the death of her stepfather.
Trichotillomania is classified in the DSM5 as an obesessive compusive and related disorder and is a condition where some individuals start to pull out their body hair. The person likely targets pulling the hair on the head, beard, mustache, eyelashes, or eyebrows. This disorder leaves patchy areas of hair loss and is apparent to those they come in contact with. Causes for compulsive disorder varies with some pulling when they are stressed or anxious, while others pull when they are bored or relaxed. Trichotillomania can be be a debilitating disorder consuming the individual's every day life. Trichotillomania is also grouped with other similar disorders like compulsive skin picking and nail biting under the umbrella term Body focused Repetitive Behaviors or BFRB.
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