Trichotillomania (TTM) or compulsive hair pulling disorder can result in balding and is often very distressing to the individual. Many experience social and/or functional impairment. While it is still unclear what the exact cause of trich and other body focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) are, research suggests that there may be a strong neuro-biological component. Reneta Slikboer from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne analyzed about 12 studies to find out how selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) anti-depressant drug called fluoxetine works for some patients. She conducted a meta-analysis and was shocked to find out that the medicine is not of much use for treating TTM. She claimed that the medicine might even increase the symptoms. Hence more research into the area is suggested.
The teenage years are an emotionally tumultuous time in anyone’s life across all cultures. In psychology the development of a healthy ego is fundamental to healthy functioning in society. According to one of the pioneers in psychological theory, Erik Erikson, the ego develops as it successfully resolves crises that are distinctly social in nature. The teen years is when we transition between childhood and adulthood and is therefore a very important stage in our development. According to Erikson, the primary task in adolscence is resolving the internal conflict known as identity versus role confusion. In trying to establish an identity teenagers are more susceptible to peer pressure and social norms, and are therefore more vulnerable to the negative messaging we are bombarded with in the media on a daily basis.
Every year we post details about the annual Trichotillomania Learning Center conference and this year is no exception. These conferences are an amazing opportunity for people from all walks of life, of all ages to come together in unity against the disorders that are impacting millions of people's lives world wide. Body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) do not discriminate. Research has shown that BFRBs like trichotilllomania and excoriation (skin picking) disorder affect children as young as toddlers right up to the elderly in their final years. There have been reported diagnoses in in countries on every continent on the planet.
The Trichotillomania Learning Centre (TLC) has always been at the forefront of research in the field of body focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) such as trichotillomania. And they continue to make strides in buidling awareness and upskilling health professionals across the globe to better serve those who suffer from these debilitating conditions. One of the ways in which they do so is to facilitate the matching of volunteers with the relevant research studies in the field. If you are keen to play your part in the advancement of understanding and the development of effective treatments for trichotillomania then you should visit the TLC website where there are regular updates of new research being conducted worldwide. Here is a roundup of the online surveys currently underway that you could potentially contribute to:
There's a bug in my coffee is a blog by a Marie Larson, 47 year-old, working wife and mom to two girls living in Chicago. Marie blogs about all kinds of interesting topics, and on a few occasions this included the topic of trichotillomania. Marie's oldest daugher, who is 13-years old has trichotillomania. It is very stressful for a parent then their child is not feeling well, be it a common cold or serious illness. Our instinct is to protect our children, to comfort them in times of need, and to save them when things go wrong. So when we are not able to 'fix' the problem for our child, we feel helpless and powerless and we are left with nothing but stress and fear.
Although cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective treatment for the sustainable management of compulsive hair pulling, other mechanisms such as change in diet or medication have also been found to be effective when used in conjunction with CBT. CBT is not a quick fix and when you are dealing with a tormenting condition, be it physical or psychological, it is natural to desire immediate results. Research in the pharmaceutical industry has made huge progress in many different fields, providing immediate from a variety of conditions that people struggled with for years. However in the field of body focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) there has not been any dramatic advances in terms of the treatment of conditions such as trichotillomania. Possibly part of the reason is that BFRBs in themselves are still poorly understood.
Everybody’s triggers for hair pulling are different. Some people pull their hair habitually without realising it when they are engaged in passive activity, others consciously pull their hair to relieve a sense of tension. Whatever your reasons for pulling, it is important to develop an awareness of these triggers as it enables you to act proactively to prevent or minimise the urges to pull rather than be reactive trying to resist the urge to pull.
In a previous post we noted that repetitive behaviors such as hair pulling and other stereotypic movements are commonly seen in individuals on the Autistic Spectrum, went on to discuss the relationship between trichotillomania and the Autsim Spectrum. In social media recently this relationship has once again come up when Dan, an adult with Aspergers Syndrome speaks about having trichotillomania on his Youtube channel Aspie World. As someone with Aspergers, known informerly as an Aspie, Dan vlogs about his daily life and shares information he thinks will be helpful to other aspies.
The Trichotillomania Learning Centre recently hosted a webinar titled “Getting well is only half the job: Relapse prevention Strategies” with Dr. Fred Penzel. The reason this webinar is important is because body-focussed repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) such as trichotillomania are chronic conditions. This means that, while it is possible to live a pick free life, this does not mean you have been cured. There is no cure for trichotillomania, instead it is a condition that must be actively managed. Just like someone who has diabetes has to manage their condition for their whole lives, so too do people with trichotillomania need to manage their BFRB. In this webinar Dr. Penzel talks about the concept of relapse, challenging the semantics we use to refer to a setback in managing the disorder and that we should not be viewing relapse as a single event, but rather as a process.
Online Test for Trichotillomania
Find Out The Severity of Your Hair Pulling With This Free Online Test