Trichotillomania, compulsive hair pulling, is a type of impulse control disorder. The hair pulling can occur on any part of the body where hair grows. It’s usually pulled from the scalp, then comes the eyebrows and eyelashes and any other part of the body. The resulting alopecia can vary from small unnoticeable areas to total baldness. The hair pulling can occur in both relaxed and stressed states and there is a sense of relief and gratification afterwards. There’s also an increasing sense of tension leading up to or when attempting to resist the hair pulling. It’s also described as an obsessive-compulsive disorder because of its compulsive nature. Symptoms include an uneven appearance in hair, bare patches or all around loss of hair, bowel blockage (if hair is eaten), constant tugging pulling or twisting of hair, denying the hair pulling, other self-injury behaviors. Those who suffer from this disorder usually also suffer from depression, anxiety, and poor self image. There is no known cause for trichotillomania but stress is a big part of most theories. For some the hair pulling is a calming and soothing release of stress and tension. Sometimes the pulling is like an addiction, with increasing tension before and relief afterwards. For many the hair pulling is done during relaxed states as a form of self-stimulation. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has certain criteria that a person must be meet to be diagnosed with this disorder, they include: repeated pulling out of your hair resulting in noticeable loss, an increased sense of tension before or when you resist pulling your hair, pleasure or relief when pulling, your hair loss isn’t caused by any other medical or dermatological condition, and your hair pulling causes you significant distress. Currently the most effective treatment is a form of psychotherapy called habit reversal training. It helps patient recognize situations that when they would be likely to...
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