Meet Jillian Clark, an award winning editorial and portrait photographer and an advocate for people with Trichotillomania. Like many trich sufferers, Jillian struggled with this disorder for many years in silence, not knowing that her daily struggles had a name or that there was help available for her. Fortunately we live in the age of technology where we have access to information at our fingertips. Jillian found answers when she searched the term "pull out my hair" did she come across the term trichotillomania.
Many trich sufferers report that they struggle to find local help for overcoming or dealing with compulsive hair pulling. Having the support of others is an important element of any effort to treat trichotillomania. Although you can find many resources and information about the various types of peer support groups on websites like the TLC or the CBSN, but it may be that none of these are in your local area.
How to start a support group
Thanks to the Trichotillomania Learning Centre and the Canadian BFRB (body-focussed repetitive behaviours) Support Network this is part 1 in a three part webinar series about starting and maintaining a BFRB support group. The webinar for part 1 will address the following:
Trichotillomania involves the compulsive pulling out of one’s own hair. This act of pulling is precipitated by an urge to experience the sensation of the hair pulling action. For many the act of hair pulling is tension relieving, for others it is stimulatory, whatever the resultant feeling is that an individual experiences, it is this feeling that compels them to pull again and again despite wanting to stop. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been found to be the most effective form of treatment for body-focussed repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) such as trichotillomania.
As a young woman, Lucinda Ellery suffered a condition called Alopecia Areata (AA), a condition that resulted in hair loss and was the source of physical and emotional turmoil. In a bid to prevent others from experiencing this same torment, Lucinda set about to find more permanent hair loss solutions. She wanted to find a solution that would offer women something that looked natural, could be looked after like your own hair and could be worn 24 hours a day. At first Lucinda worked with extensions, which also offered women the option of adding more volume to their hair. But it is only after meeting her first client with Trichotillomania that Lucinda created and developed the revolutionary Intralace System™ which is now used by ladies managing various hair loss conditions, including those with trichotillomania.
Women who suffer from Body Focused Repetitive Behaviours (BFRBs) such as trichotillomania or dermatillomania may find it strange to discover that there are a number of men who are also afflicted with these conditions. Doug Shorts, one such sufferer, has come forward in his you-tube video titled Men Speak Up to encourage men who are suffering from BFRB’s to share their hair pulling and skin picking disorders so that other men, especially the youth or those who have just started engaging in these compulsive behaviours, do not feel so isolated in their compulsion.
While we don’t know exactly what causes trichotillomania, studies have shown that there is a link between anxiety and hair pulling. Many hair pullers report that the urge to pull often occurs at times of high stress, tension or anxiety. However, despite the fact that the act of hair pulling brings short term relief, the situation gets worse as one gets anxious when large portions of his or her hair that get lost due to the pulling. This creates a cycle of hopelessness as the sufferers try to resist the impulsive behavior without success. Overall, despite hair pulling being a way to relieve anxiety, it also creates more stress to the sufferers. The most effective form of treatment for body-focussed repetitive behaviours (BFRBs) is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
People have been suffering with trichotillomania in silence for years, but with increased awareness and acceptance of the condition, more and more individuals are coming forward with their experiences. In the technological age, we live in a generation of sharers. The millennial generation take to social media to share everything they experience and trichotillomania is no exception. The rise of the blogging culture has largely contributed to the increased awareness of the disorder and has led to more people and seeking and accessing help.
Thanks to the efforts of research and advocacy groups such as the Trichotillomania Learning Centre have made huge strides in growing awareness of body-focussed repetitive behaviours (BFRBs) and encourages those suffering in silence to come forward and seek help and support. More and more we are seeing stories of individuals suffering with trichotillomania featured in mainstream media.
The onset of compulsive hair pulling ranges in age from childhood to late adulthood. We still do not know exactly what causes trichotillomania, and the trigger for onset differs for everyone. Studies have pointed to genetic predisposition to the chemical processes in the brain as a possible cause. However, one thing is clear is that compulsive hair pulling is not a condition that just occurs overnight. Many people pull at their hair out of habit, but do not necessarily have a hair pulling disorder. However what starts out as a habit can evolve into a clinical condition in some cases.
Although awareness about body-focussed repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) such as trichotillomania is still very poor among health professionals, this is slowly changing, thanks to the efforts of advocacy and support organizations such as the Trichotillomania Learning Centre (TLC) and the Canadian BFRB Support Network (CBSN). TLC in particular has been and remains at the forefront of BFRBs research, and the development and training of professionals. This is achieved not only by disseminating important updates on research in the field, but also conducting or facilitating their own research, as well as the training if health practitioners.
Online Test for Trichotillomania
Find Out The Severity of Your Hair Pulling With This Free Online Test