17 Key Facts About Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling Disorder) – Statistics

Here Are Top 17 Key Facts About Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling Disorder):

#1 Trichotillomania (TTM), also known as trich or hair pulling disorder, is when someone can’t resist the urge to pull out her/his hair.

#2 The hair on the scalp is most commonly affected. Also, the eyebrows, eyelashes, and beard can be affected. Less common areas where trich occurs includes pulling out hair from your legs, armpits, arms, or pubic hair and pulling out facial hair.

#3 The name of the condition derives from the Greek – trich- (hair), till (to pull), and mania (an abnormal love for a specific place, object, or action) and was first coined by François Henri Hallopeau, a French dermatologist.

#4 In the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Version 5, TTM is now considered an obsessive-compulsive related disorder.

Statistics

#5 According to statistics, in the United States, TTM is a common disorder with an estimated point prevalence of 0.5 to 2.0 percent. In the United Kingdom, there are over 400,000 people possibly affected by the condition.

#6 It is more common in women. The typical age of onset for TTM is usually at a young age (10-13 years). However, children as young as 1 year old have been reported to compulsively pull their hair. In childhood, the sex distribution has been found to be equal.

#7 Regardless of age and gender, TTM can be a devastating disorder to live with, especially as it can affect an individual’s physical and mental health, well being, and social life.

Symptoms

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#8 Common TTM symptoms include:

  • increased distress which interferes with daily life;
  • repetitive acts of hair pulling from eyebrows, eyelashes, scalp, or other body areas;
  • skimming pulled hair across the lips or face;
  • persistent urge to pull hair with feelings of relief after pulling the hair;
  • playing with pulled hair;
  • bald areas on the scalp or other areas;
  • chewing on pulled hair;
  • missing eyebrows or eyelashes;
  • problems or substantial distress at school, work, or in social situations related to pulling out the hair;
  • frequently trying to stop the behavior, but without success;
  • rubbing pulled-out hair across your face or lips;
  • eating pulled-out hair;
  • rituals that accompany hair pulling;
  • an inclination for specific types of hair;
  • a sense of pleasure after the hair is pulled;
  • an increasing sense of tension before pulling. 
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Complications

#9 There are some TTM suferrers who ingest the hair they have pulled out. Over time, this habit may result in digestive problems, like gastrointestinal obstruction and the formation of intestinal hairballs.

#10 The alopecia which results from hair pulling is another complication of trich and can range from small areas of hair loss to complete baldness.

Causes

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#11 It is thought that the condition can result from trying to gain control over some part of our lives.

#12 Many doctors believe that genetics have a role in TTM and that some patients have a gene that reduces their impulse control capacity.

#13 According to a 2008 study that was done by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, TTM is linked with structural grey matter (an important component of the central nervous system) changes in neural circuitry implicated in cognition, habit learning, and affect regulation.

Risk Factors

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#14 These factors tend to increase the risk of TTM:

  • stress – some stressful events or situations may trigger TTM in some people;
  • other disorders – individuals who have TTM may also experience anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder;
  • age – the onset of trich usually occurs between the ages of 10 and 13. Also, toddlers can be prone to the disorder, however, this typically goes away on its own without medical treatment;
  • family history – the disorder may occur more frequently in people who have a close relative with TTM.

Diagnosis

#15 If TTM is suspected, your healthcare provider might refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist. An evaluation to determine if you have the condition may include:

  • identifying any mental or physical health problems which may be linked with trich;
  • asking questions and discussing your problem with you;
  • analyzing how much hair loss you have.
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Treatmentf

#16 Treatment can be complicated and most treatment options require practice and time. Treatment options include:

  • group therapy – it can help you to connect with other people that are enduring a similar problem;
  • family therapy – it helps parents learn to better manage symptoms;
  • medications – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors can be used to reduce anxiety;
  • process-oriented therapy – it can be effective in helping you explore your emotions;
  • deep breathing training – it increases relaxation and focus;
  • relaxation training – it may help you to calm your central nervous systems (CNS) in response to stress triggers;
  • self-awareness training – it may improve your ability to perceive aspects of your behavior, emotions, personality, and without self-criticism;
  • cognitive therapy – it can help you to explore distorted beliefs related to TTM;
  • habit reversal – it helps you to learn how to recognize situations where you are likely to pull hair.

Tips

#17 Here are some tips which may help you to better manage this condition:

  • cut your hair short;
  • regularly squeeze a stress ball to relieve stress;
  • put plasters on the fingertips;
  • practice one session of mindfulness meditation daily (around 40 minutes);
  • have a regular diet rich in fruits and vegetables:
  • practice moderate physical exercise – 30 minutes every day or 60 minutes every second day;
  • practice deep breathing exercises when you have the urge to pull your hair;
  • have good sleeping habits;
  • take a soothing bath to ease any anxiety or stress;
  • spend time in nature;
  • use a fidget toy.
References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5328413/
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry/article/

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