We are all familiar with the main symptoms of depression: sadness, lethargy, changes in appetite, feelings of hopelessness and failure, low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts or feelings. These are all very serious, and hard enough to handle in their own. But what happens when depression moves from the internal to the external? The physical symptoms of depression can be just as distressing as the mental ones: cutting, burning, and other forms of self-harm are common among people struggling with depression, but there are lesser-known conditions that can be triggered by depression. One of the least understood, and often un-diagnosed of these is trichotillomania.
Trichotillomania is a medical condition that causes people to have the urge to pull out their hair. Patients, who suffer from it, suffer from the physical effects but also from the emotional effects that come with the disorder. The disorder is known to put a strain on people’s relationships as well as cause the sufferer to feel embarrassed and isolated. The causes of the disorder have yet to be identified. There are various ways of treating Trichotillomania with the main three approaches being cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy.
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.
Online Test for Trichotillomania
Find Out The Severity of Your Hair Pulling With This Free Online Test