There are multiple theories about what contributes to compulsive hair-pulling disorder. The cause remains unknown, however, theories regarding the motivations for the behavior help scientists target research endeavors. One theory at the forefront of research is the reinforcement sensitivity theory. This article will explain the concepts of this theory and how research suggests it applies to trichotillomania.
A study is being done in Yale School of Medicine, which aims to understand the relationship between genes and BFRBs.
Description for Potential Research Participants:
You are invited to be part of a study of people with body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) and related disorders. The purpose of this research is to understand the relationship between genes and these disorders. Our study is being done in part to try to find out why some members of your family are affected with BFRBs and others are not. Therefore, unaffected members of your family are important to this study. Eventually, we hope that this research will enable us to identify a genetic factor or factors that cause certain individuals to have BFRBs.
Since I started writing five years ago I have found myself not only doing it because I want to, but because I have to. Writing got me through one of the hardest periods of my life; when I suffered from red skin syndrome, a condition brought on from the use of topical steroids and was also there when I made a full recovery, so in my battle to overcome trichotillomania, writing has naturally played a huge part in my journey.
Trichotillomania (trich) is a mental health disorder where a person repeatedly and recurrently pulls out their hair which causes hair loss and significant physical and psychological impairment. The disorder’s symptoms usually show up between 9 and 13 years of age, coinciding with the onset of puberty. Not much is known about the cause of the disorder, but research using brain imaging has provided evidence that trichotillomania results from impairment in response inhibition. Primarily, a person experiences an urge to pull their hair, but they cannot resist the urge or stop the behavior even when the response is inappropriate. Some research shows that the part of the brain that tells the body to stop a movement is impaired in people with trich.
Compulsive hair pulling affects 1-2% of the population, mostly female and usually starts during puberty. Pulling behaviors can take many hours per day. Not only does pulling hair interfere with daily functioning, but many people who suffer from trichotillomania spend many hours covering up or disguising the damage. The manifestation of the behavior is different for each person; however, it often results in hair loss on the face or scalp. Many people who suffer from compulsive hair pulling also have other mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Many people with mental illness find comfort when they find out their condition related to structural or chemical issues in the brain. Providing an explanation based on something physical can reduce the self-stigma associated with mental illness. Self-stigma is like perceived stigma, where someone expects poor treatment because they have a mental illness. A physical explanation for a disorder can also improve self-esteem because perspective can change from “I don’t know what is wrong with me, I must be bad,” to “My brain works or is structured differently.” Not everyone feels this way though.
This is a guest post submitted by a mom of a child with trichotillomania.
PARENTING A CHILD WITH TRICH
What would you do to prevent people from staring at you because of a disability or disfigurement? Would you put yourself in situations where people could ask you why you are the way you are? How comfortable would you feel being put on the spot?
Dealing with questions about skin picking!
People with trichotillomania deal with these questions all the time. Will people stare? Will they ask questions? What will I say if they do? Trichotillomania is a mental health disorder where people compulsively pull out their hair. The most frequent locations are the scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes, so someone may not have any eyelashes or eyebrows. They may have strange bald spots on the scalp, areas where hair won’t grow anymore, or areas where hair grows back, and it looks different from the rest.
Mindful running serves multiple purposes for people with compulsive hair pulling disorder. First, as an aerobic physical exercise, running keeps stress low and anxiety at bay. Second, running is a full-body activity. And third, it helps develop mindfulness skills for use at other times.
Exercise benefits everyone. Research shows it positively impacts stress, anxiety, memory, sleep, mood, and self-esteem. For people with compulsive hair pulling, anxiety and stress can act as triggers for pulling behaviors which instigates the cycle of shame and embarrassment as a result of pulling. A lot of time goes into pulling with a lot more going into taking care of oneself afterward. Consider exercise as a way to reduce stress and feel better.
Online Test for Trichotillomania
Find Out The Severity of Your Hair Pulling With This Free Online Test