Trichotillomania or obsessive hair pulling, is a disorder that affects many people all over the world. This serious mental disease can start in children as young as 12 months old! Let’s look at some startling realities of the condition, and what these compulsive hair pullers have to go through on a daily basis. Keep an eye out – if someone you know if suffering from Trichotillomania, this list will help you to understand exactly how extreme the condition can be.
1) A Few Here, and a Few More Over…Here
Did you know that excessive plucking of your eyebrows is a form of Trichotillomania? Many people who suffer from this condition state that their condition began with a few simple eyebrow hairs. This spiraled out of control, and soon it led to eyelashes being pulled, head hair removal and pubic hair pulling.
Because tweezing and general hair upkeep is such an ingrained part of our daily lives, many people who experience the warning signs of this condition, don’t realize it until they are hooked. Once the habit forms, it is extremely difficult to break. That’s why it’s so important to stop before it becomes a huge part of your life.
2) Not Just a Phase
Because Trichotillomania tends to start in most people when they are in their adolescence, the symptoms and clear warning signs are often overlooked by the people around them. Children are prone to all sorts of behaviors as they grow up, but that doesn’t mean this condition should be treated as a nail biting phase that will go away.
Like most forms of mental disorder, Trichotillomania gets worse over time, resulting in a prematurely bald child with severe emotional problems. These problems stem from the humiliation of hair loss so young.
3) Controlling Your Impulses
Make no mistake Trichotillomania is an extreme compulsion disorder, peppered with a form of masochism that manifests from the person’s own unnatural behavior. Though people are aware that they have this mental disorder they can’t stop, and it becomes as damaging and dangerous as cutting.
There is little help for these people, as the condition is so rare that it hasn’t been studied as much as other mental disorders. With only 200 000 people in the US affected, they often suffer in silence, or spend years in isolation ashamed of their condition.
4) Escalating Into Trichotillophagia
While Trichotillomania is obsessive hair pulling, Trichotillophagia is obsessive hair eating, which develops from the original condition. A person suffering from this condition may start out with both pulling and eating, though usually the pulling escalates into eating over time.
When people eat their hair compulsively it can cause massive health problems. The most extreme is when a large mass of hair forms in the stomach that clumps and forces weight loss, abdominal pain and eventually – emergency room admission. The clump is known as a trichobezoar and it needs to be removed immediately in open surgery or the patient will eventually die.
5) A Female Problem?
In a recent case study, an overwhelming proportion of Trichotillomania sufferers were found to be female. No one really knows why, but the logical reason would be that girls tend to internalize their feelings more than boys, and are therefore more prone to seeking emotional comfort – no matter how damaging it may be.
6) The Secret Gene
As science advances and more people come forward with this disorder, naturally progress with happen. Recently scientists have discovered a gene that is said to be responsible for Trichotillomania. Like the ‘addiction gene’ this specific mutation can be manipulated – though we are years away from that kind of cure. In the meantime, these scientists are studying people who are affected by the disorder, studying their genes and coming up with biological solutions to the problem.
7) OCD or Not OCD?
There has been much debate over Trichotillomania, and the world wants to know whether it’s a form of OCD or not. Seeing as this is a ‘realities’ article here is the truth about the situation. Trichotillomania is an impulsive disorder. OCD is obsessive compulsive disorder.
What’s the difference? Not much. The two could even be said to be interchangeable. The same supportive treatment applies, as does the general diagnoses. If you’re a hair puller, you have a form of OCD – it’s not OCD, but its close enough.
8) A Cure For Pullers?
Trichotillomania is pretty rare, but because of the severe effects on the people who do suffer from the condition – there are treatments that you could try. Cognitive behavioral therapy is an option, as it hypnosis and certain types of medication. These medications work best to calm the patient and suppress irrational urges to pull their own hair out. The most successful treatment for this condition is still constant therapy combined with long term medication. Like most mental disorders it will be a long road to recovery.
9) Damaging Effects
Hair pulling and eating will result in noticeable bald spots, receding hairlines and skin problems, if the disorder is acute. This in turn leads to social exclusion – as the person affected becomes more and more ashamed of what they look like. Wigs help, but they don’t disguise the fact that their eyebrows and other body hair is damaged or gone. This extreme isolation, guilt and shame sometimes end in tragedy and suicide.
10) A Life Long Struggle
The harshest reality of all is that people with Trichotillomania rarely recover. Instead they choose to live with the disorder, doing their best to look normal to the outside world when they go out. Until there is a definitive cure, hair pullers will always struggle to stop this damaging habit. All they can do is work towards it, go to therapy and take calming medication for as long as possible.
About Dana Bashor
On her free time Dana Bashor loves to freelance on different topics and provide consumer alerts for sites like planet antares scam alerts. Catch up with Dana on her blog Dana Bashor blog where you will find whats going on in her life.
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