Trichotillomania is an obsessive-compulsive related disorder that causes an individual to pull out hair from their scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows or any other part of their body. Hair is often pulled in an attempt to alleviate anxiety. It varies in severity and may cause bald patches.

 

Videos: Trichotillomania

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Dr. Mouton-Odum, MD explains Trichotillomania (repetitive pulling of one's hair) , who it affects, and how it affects the individual suffering from trichotillomania.

Dr. Mouton-Odum, MD shares the signs and symptoms of trichotillomania. Some things parents can watch for in their children are bald spots or thinning hair. A parent who notices hair loss in their children should take their child to a pediatrician to ensure that the hair loss is not biological.

Dr. Mouton-Odum, MD discusses that trichotillomania is treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This treatment helps a person identify what internal or external triggers cause their hair-pulling behavior. Internal triggers may be thoughts, beliefs, physical sensations, sensory experiences, or emotions. External triggers include places, activities, environment, time of day, or the presence or absence of another person. When those triggers are identified, the person with trichotillomania can be helped with changing the aspects of their environment and their internal triggers. If a person is experiencing a co-morbid disorder such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or depression, the therapist looks at whichever issue is more urgent.

Dr. Mouton-Odum, MD disucsses how trichotillomania can feel very isolating. While in the past it was thought to be rare, it is actually very common. Still, there are not a lot of resources for trichotillomania. The TLC foundation for Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors offers different events around the country to help people with this disorder find treatment and support. There are also books and online resource available for people with this disorder and their parents.

Dr. Mouton-Odum, MD shares that a good first step to finding treatment for trichotillomania is contacting a psychologist who is trained in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), preferably someone who has previously worked with sufferers of trichotillomania. Medications have not been found across the board as helpful to people with trichotillomania. In some cases, if there is a co-morbid anxiety or depressive disorder, treating those co-morbid disorders can also be helpful for trichotillomania.

Dr. Mouton-Odum, MD discusses that trichotillomania is found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Psychologists do treat trichotillomania, but not all psychologists have the proper training. The TLC Foundation for Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors offers training for professionals.

Dr. Mouton-Odum, MD shares that because there is not a lot of information out there about trichotillomania, when a child is diagnosed, parents may blame themselves. It is extremely important and helpful to a person with trichotillomania to have support for relatives and loved ones. It's important to recognize that this is not "bad behaviorm" but a treatable disorder with a neurological basis. Some parts of therapy for trichotillomania is helping parents or loved ones be supportive of a person with trichotillomania in order to relieve the sufferer of the shame that often comes with the disorder. A parent or loved one should understand that trichotillomania is not self-mutilation, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or a wish to be ugly. It is a behavior that people use to self-soothe.