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Trichotillomania treatment and causes from experience
10-29-2014, 01:43 PM
Post: #1
Trichotillomania treatment and causes from experience
I've found that there isn't much talk about trichotillomania in the forum so I'd like to post this experience describing the trichotillomania treatment and causes.

I personally do not suffer from trichotillomania although a family member of mine does. Trichotillomania is tied with OCD and is the mere obsession with pulling one's hair to relieve anxiety and obsessive thoughts. This constant pulling of the hair leads to temporary and even permanent hair loss. The common areas that are affected by trichotillomania are the scalp, eyebrow, face and arms. This is a picture of how bad the hair loss can be with trichotillomania.

[Image: Trichotillomania_1.jpg]

I found the following personal experience on dealing with trichotillomania. I think it paints a useful picture of this disease and maybe we can have this thread to discuss trichotillomania. From my side the family member who suffers from trichotillomania has destroyed his eyebrows permanently. It's really bad Sad

Here is the story.

***

Thirteen years ago I was diagnosed with having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - OCD. OCD is an anxiety disorder which as a sufferer, I can see and feel why. The obsessive part of the disease is the repetitive thoughts and the compulsive part of the disease is the repetitive acts, or behaviors.

By my title of this experience of mine, you may be saying to yourself, "What is trichotillomania?" Well, trichotillomania means pulling out one's own hair.

Trichotillomania is considered a compulsive behavior because the person who is pulling out his, or her own hair one strand at a time, often isn't even aware he, or she is doing it.

I understand how trichotillomania is categorized as an anxiety disorder because unconsciously pulling out one's own hair is a relief of tension, anxiety and stress as the obsessive thoughts fill the mind of the person suffering. It's the same as when people rub their eyebrows, or rub their chin when they are feeling anxious, or worrisome and they are engaged in deep thinking.

How do I know this? Because along with having OCD I have suffered with trichotillomania. I have not suffered with it nearly as much as many others, but it has touched my life.

Many people who suffer from trichotillomania pull out their hair so much that they leave themselves with bald spots and sometimes eventually even a totally bald head. The severity of the disorder can range from very mild to very severe.

I have done it minimally and because of many years of psychotherapy, I notice it right away when I am doing it and I stop myself.

How can one stop themselves as they realize they are pulling out their own hair?

Many therapists suggest keeping a rubber band around your wrist and pulling it and then releasing it to cause yourself a little pain, when you realize you are pulling out your own hair. You will then associate that pain with the actual act of pulling out your hair and it will make you consciously stop doing it.

It's like the classical conditioning used on rats in cages I remember learning about in a psychology class. Every time the rat presses on the lever they get rewarded with food, so they continue with that behavior because of the positive rewards. When the rat pressed on another lever it got a shock, which caused it to stop that behavior because of the negative, painful results. Putting a rubber band around your wrist and using it as a solving technique for trichotillomania is one way to stop the behavior.

I use self-talk to stop myself. I am a 54 year old woman and realize that as we get older our hair starts to thin out and doesn't grow as fast, or as much as it used to. At this point in my life one of the last things I need to do is to help this process along. Baldness is not considered attractive in women, unless sadly it's from the result of chemotherapy. Most women are not okay with being, or becoming bald so why help the process along? I know it's not okay with me, which is why whenever I find myself starting to pull out my own hair self-talk is very effective in making me stop. If a person really has a good reason to want to stop trichotillomania and reminds themselves of that reason(s) as they are engaging in the behavior, self-talk is very successful.

Another remedy for trichotillomania is keeping your hair at a non-annoying length. For me, my hair is annoying when it starts to reach my neck and I feel it on my neck. I find that cutting it often to keep it no longer than the bottom of my earlobes is a very helpful way to avoid Trichotillomania. By keeping my hair short it doesn't draw my attention towards my hair. Yes, I feel my hair on the top of my head, but that's about it. It is never annoying.

The website trich.org is a trichotillomania online Learning Center, which is very helpful for sufferers of trichotillomania and their family and friends of all ages. On the website is very helpful information, support including online support groups, research and training updates, treatments and referral resources.
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