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Recognizing Trichotillomania
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Recognizing Trichotillomania

Ok. There is one thing of which I’m completely and genuinely terrified. I hate to go to the hairdresser. You would ask why? I’m a young woman, quite pretty, and every girl I know would absolutely do anything just to be pampered at the hairdresser... so why do I feel totally embarrassed to go to the hair salon? Perhaps because I have a hidden secret that I don’t want to share with anyone, that only my hairdresser knows.

My secret is a huge bald spot. No, I do not lose hair. If this was the case, I would be treating the problem and I wouldn’t feel so ashamed.

In my case the problem is me cause I pull my hair. I pull my hair when I am at home, or when I am alone in the car. I pull my hair when my boss calls me, when I am on the phone with my mom, or when I am stressed about something. Sometimes, people notice me pulling my hair and I pretend I am playing with it (after all, playing with hair is accepted, just as nail biting), but as a matter of fact I am restless until the hair does not come off from my scalp. I like to feel that ache, that "tick" sound when the bulb is detached from my scalp. For years I thought I was the only person in the world with this problem, then I realized that if I suffer from it, it means that many others are in the same situation. It’s statistics. I did a little research on the Internet. Apparently I suffer from Trichotillomania or Tricho, an obsessive compulsive disorder that affects especially the female population and that leads us to pull strands of hair, but in severe cases even the eyelashes, eyebrows, beard hair, nose hair or pubic hair. There are those who in addition to this disorder suffer also from Trichophagia, which means that once they pull the hair they swallow it, which can lead to very serious consequences, sometimes even fatal. I have not come this far, at least not yet. The causes that lead us to pull our own hair may be anxiety, depression. According to Wikipedia women develop this disease since childhood, often as a result of a disfunctional relationship with their mother and it affects 1% of the population. So, what can be done?

We need to differentiate between adults and children. In young children, sometimes it's better not to intervene because the problem often resolves itself. For adults I would suggest some therapy sessions. Habit Reversal Training (HRT) has a good rate of success in treating trichotillomania. Hypnosis may improve symptoms too.

So, what about you? Do you suffer from Trichotillomania too? Do you have bald spots? Admitting it to ourselves takes us halfway into the healing process.


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