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Top 7 Trichotillomania Facts You Should Know

written by: LDP • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 5/18/2011

Trichotillomania information is important for sufferers and loved ones to know. The more you know about this hair pulling disorder the more receptive you or your loved one will be to the treatments available. Learn some of the top trichotillomania information, causes, symptoms, treatments, and more.

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    Key Trichotillomania Info

    If you have recently been diagnosed with trichotillomania or know someone with the disorder, it is important for you to know some of the essential trichotillomania information to help you better understand this often misunderstood condition. Trichotillomania is a complex disorder and each person with it may report having different symptoms than others. In addition, some people react well to treatments while others do not benefit from the same interventions. Below is some trichotillomania information that may help you better understand this hair pulling condition.

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    #1 What is Trichotillomania?

    Trichotillomania, or TTM, is an impulse control disorder that causes sufferers to pull out their own hair. The person may pull hair from their scalp, facial hair, or any hair that is on the body. The person may psychologically receive an urge to pull and will begin pulling their hair while others may be absentmindedly pulling their hair without knowing they have done so until the episode is over with.

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    #2 What Causes Trichotillomania?

    Many doctors, psychologists, scientists, and researchers have been trying to pinpoint the exact cause of trichotillomania for years but have not yet found it. Some believe that all the trichotillomania information and research thus far indicates a neuro-biological cause while other researchers believe it is a combination of emotional issues, genetics, and possibly environmental factors.

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    #3 Does Pulling Out Your Hair Hurt for People with TTM?

    Hair pulling for those with trichotillomania is unique. Some people with it say that they aren't even aware they have been pulling out their hair until the episode is over. They may have been watching a television show and then suddenly realize they have a fistful of hair.

    Others with TTM say that when they are aware that they are pulling their hair the sensations can differ, but frequently they report that it is similar to scratching an itch.

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    #4 What Treatments are Available for People Who Pull Their Hair Out?

    There are several treatment options available to those with trichotillomania. It is believed by many doctors that the best method of treatment is a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, habit reversal therapy, and the use of medications. Some patients do well with therapy alone, some respond simply to medications, others need both therapy and medication. And unfortunately some TTM patients do not respond to either method of treatment.

    Cognitive behavioral therapy gives the patient a goal of seeking out what their unique triggers are to pull their hair. Once the triggers have been determined they will then be addressed by finding a healthier alternative when the urge to pull begins. Sometimes keeping the hands busy doing something will suffice. Each patient is different. With habit reversal therapy the patient learns new and healthy habits that will help them reverse the habit of pulling their hair when in a stressful situation.

    Common medications prescribed for people with TTM include SSRI types of medication as well as N-acetyl cysteine.

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    #5 How Common is Trichotillomania in the US?

    Most people have not heard of trichotillomania unless they or someone they know has the condition; however, it is estimated that between 3 to 9 million Americans have TTM. Women are more likely to have TTM than men, in fact clinically speaking about 80 to 90 percent of patients seen with trichotillomania are women.

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    #6 Is Trichotillomania Dangerous?

    TTM can be dangerous for some patients for a variety of reasons. Untreated trichotillomania can develop into a chronic condition and the person suffering from it can become very depressed and experience severe anxiety. Another danger is if people ingest the pulled hair. It is not uncommon for people with TTM to actually eat the hair they have pulled. In some rare cases the person has consumed so much that it clumps together in the intestines or stomach and blocks the natural digestive flow. This condition is called trichobezoars.

    Although rare it does happen and if you suffer from TTM and consume the hair, you should not feel embarrassed to tell your doctor. It is a common symptom that needs to be treated and evaluated.

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    #7 Other Trichotillomania Information

    Anxiety and depression are often comorbid conditions with TTM. Another condition that may go hand-in-hand with hair pulling is skin picking. This condition is known as dermotillomania and many of the treatment options for TTM apply to skin picking disorder as well.

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    The trichotillomania information provided here is just a stepping stone for you to learn more about this hair pulling disorder. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with TTM it is important that you educate yourself as much as possible about this condition and to understand that although it may not be a mainstream medical condition, it is fairly common.

    Do not be embarrassed; seek medical help so that you can stop this destructive disorder. If your loved one is afflicted with TTM it is important for you to be sensitive and as supportive as possible. Trichotillomania requires medical attention and it takes more than will power to overcome this disorder. Try to learn as much trichotillomania information as possible because the more you now about the disorder the more receptive you or your loved one will be to treatments.

    Resources:

    Trichotillomania Information

    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001517.htm

    www.ocdla.com/trichotillomania.html

    http://www.trich.org/treatment/options.html

    http://www.nmha.org/go/information/get-info/trichotillomania

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/trichotillomania/DS00895

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