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Rachel87 , 10 May 2016

Is this trichotillomania?

Hi, I'm a bit confused about what I 'have'. Whenever my hands aren't busy with something I find myself picking at my hair. I use my thumb and forefinger to pick up and stroke down a small group of strands at my scalp, searching for hairs that are coarse, wiry, very curly, or have damage, like little splits, down the shaft that I can feel. When I find one of these hairs I scrape it between my thumbnail and the pad of my forefinger feeling the different ridges on it that aren't on normal hairs. After a while the hair curls up from the scraping or it breaks. If the hair was a coarse wiry one I pull it out, hold the root between my teeth and continue to scrape it with my nail until it breaks. I don't pull that many hairs out and have no thinning, although I have areas I specifically target which have some breakage and damage from it. Does this still count as trichotillomania? My 'goal' doesn't seem to be to pull hair out, but to find these different ones. I do it without thinking and find it extremely difficult to stop myself doing it. I find it very comforting somehow but don't understand why

5 Answers
May 10, 2016
Hi Rachel87,
Welcome to trichstop! Well, I'm a newbie but I think, I can share something about trichotillomania which might help you. Trichotillomania is a kind of impulsive self-induced disorder which is considered as a stress relieving method by some people. Are you pulling your hair to reduce your tension? Do you feel any mood change while controlling this activity? Are you feeling comfortable/ tension free after pulling your hair? If yes, then you may have this disorder. People who are suffering from this disorder may show intense anger, anxiety or self-harm tendency. This will reduce their self-esteem. From your explanation, I assume that you are not pulling your hair as a stress relief method, but since you need to get out of this, It's better to get advice/ treatment from your doctor. There are so many treatment methods ( psychotherapies )are available for this disorder such as cognitive behaviour therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, etc ( ). Before getting treatment, you should confirm whether you are really suffering from this disorder. Go through some articles about trichotillomania. All the best.
May 10, 2016
Thank you so much for that information. I have had anxiety for as long as I remember and depression/self harm for around 14 years. I'm not sure when I started this hair thing - I was doing it as a teenager (I'm 28 now) but I remember my mum getting called into my school when I was about 6 because I'd pulled a handful of my hair out and the teachers were worried. I think that was a one off at that time though.
I think I do pull to reduce tension as, while I do it every day, it's certainly worse when I'm particularly stressed/anxious. Is it unusual that I don't really want to stop doing it? Maybe because I have no noticeable damage from it and it does seem to relax me. Sometimes I wish I could end a session if it's getting excessive though
May 11, 2016
I think it's better to get help from your doctor. Don't wait till the things get worse. Afterall, Prevention is better than cure. Stay safe :)
Tasneem Abrahams
May 25, 2016

Hi Rachel87. Welcome to the forum. Thanks to Smithysnow32 for the very sound advice. It is very good advice to recommend you consult with a health professional about your concerns and to read up more about it. We have a few articles on this website's blog that can provide you more insights into the diagnosis of trich and its link to other disorders such as anxiety disorder and self harm. There is also the self-assessment test on this site that you can take. Best of luck!

June 17, 2016
OMG Rachel: Your description of the "root" and how you deal with it is so specific and like some of the things I do. I HAVE to get the hair by the root to pull it out otherwise it doesn't "count" and I have to go after another one. When I get a nice juicy fat one with the root, I then bit off the root. You scrape it with your finger. But its the same sensation. Its that "root" thing..... Is that "root" my inner whatever? My self esteem, my core, that is so troubled? Thank you for being so detailed.

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