We operate in a very medicalized model of health and wellness. This is partially the reason mental health has suffered such severe stigma for many, many years. We tend to discount the intangible, including the influence of the mind and our emotions on our well being. However for many people with compulsive hair pulling disorder, the onset and continued struggle with the disorder is linked to their emotional and psychological health. While there may be neurological or physiological explanations and descriptions available for how the brain or body functions during times when the urge to pull is high, it still does not answer the why. Dr Joy Saville, a doctor with the Tibb Ibn Sina Institute believes that we need to look at wellness holistically in order to combat ill health. Dr Saville is passionate about health and wellness, and is particularly interested in the marriage btween ancient and modern systems of medicines. She has shared her insights with us in this guest blog:
Nail biting, also known as onychophagy or onychophagia, is an oral compulsive habit. It is in some cases depicted as a parafunctional activity, the common use of the mouth for an action other than speaking, eating, or drinking. Nail biting is very common, particularly amongst children. Severe forms of nails biting are viewed as a body focused repetitive behavior (BFRB) in the DSM-IV-R and are ordered under obsessive-compulsive and related disorders in the DSM-5. The ICD-10 characterizes the practice as "other specified behavioural and emotional disorders with onset usually occurring in childhood and adolescence. Other body-focused repetitive behaviors include excoriation disorder (skin picking), dermatophagia (skin biting), and trichotillomania (the urge to pull out hair), and all of them tend to coexist with nail biting. However, not all nail biting is pathological, and the difference between harmful obsession and normal behaviour is not generally clear
Hair extensions are instantly gratifying and can be an enormous morale booster – giving immediate body to fine hair, or enabling a change in style for a special event. For people with trichotillomania it can also mean the difference between going out or becoming socially isolated for shame of the condition of your hair due to constant hair pulling. However for some having them in can also be a trigger for hair pulling due to itchiness, dandruff and dry scalp. It is therefore important to take care of your scalp when trying out weaves or other hair extensions in order to avoid increased hair pulling episodes. Keeping hair extensions in for an extended period can cause a lot of damage, and can leave you with less hair than you started with. Old-fashioned hair extensions were put in by weaving threads with hair attached between your natural hair.
Tips for scalp care
Use a Sunscreen for Your Hair
Trichotillomania, difficult to pronounce and even more difficult to live with. The disorder is characterised by the strong urges to pull out their own hair. It can affect people of any age. People with trichotillomania pull hair out at the root from places like the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, or pubic area.
Learning Life Lessons
It is said that everything we come across in life has a significient purpose and teaches us something important. Although trichotillomania is not something to wish on anybody, one blogger, Emilie Bélanger, who has lived with trichotillomania since she was 8 years old, says there are important lessons that she learnt from the hair pulling disorder and they are as follows:
Trichotillomania, also known as compulsive hair pulling disorder, has no known cause, but is linked to a variety of things. It is believed that some people with the disorder have a neurologically based predisposition to do it. It works as a self-soothing mechanism, helping to keep them calm when they feel stressed or anxious. While estimates differ, about 1 in 50 or 2% of the overall population has trichotillomania. This makes the disorder more common than Schizophrenia and Bipolar Depression. Unlike anxiety disorders (e.g. panic disorder, social anxiety, PTSD) where the fundamental symptoms are stress and fear, trichotillomania has a significantly more complex and heterogeneous set of symptoms.
Trichotillomania, difficult word to pronounce and even more difficult disorder to live with. A lot of people don’t have a clue on what hair pulling disorder is. It wasn't even officially labelled a disorder until 1987 but studies show that it has existed since evaluation of humankind, unfortunately scientists still aren't sure what causes trichotillomania. But even though there aren’t clear effective ways on how to cure it, there are many who have found ways to manage the behavior and break the cycle.
Break the Stigma
Educate yourself, then educate others, and finally, don't act weird when and if someone "comes out" to you about having the disorder. The more we talk about it the less strange it will seem, and the less isolated sufferers will feel. A lot of disorders are still overlooked and it is up to individuals who understand the disorder to take a stand and let their voice be heard.
Trichotillomania or "trich" is a disorder on the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Spectrum and is portrayed by the overwhelming desire to pull out one's hair and is normally persistent and hard to treat. This usually leads to hair loss or baldness (contingent upon the affected area of pulling), pain and in many cases, functional or social isolation. Epidemiologic studies for trichotillomania have been sorely lacking in the field of scientific research, but there is a growing recognition of the need for prevalence studies to understand how often trichotillomania occurs in different groups of people and why.
Anu Elizabeth Roche is a Mumbai based poet, mother, wife, and member of spoken word poetry band Mental Heads who suffers from trichotillomania. Anu Elizabeth’s poem titled “Hair” was recently discovered by “Mind of India” and has gone viral since. Her motivations behind writing the poem were simple, she wanted to raise awareness of the compulsive hair pulling disorder.
I want to destroy the silence and ignorance surrounding this condition, and spreading awareness is a viable solution”.
Online Test for Trichotillomania
Find Out The Severity of Your Hair Pulling With This Free Online Test