Trichotillomania (Hair-Pulling), Skin-Picking, Nail-Biting & Cheek-Chewing

Chronic hair-pulling can be effectively treated without the need for medication.

What’s Trichotillomania (Hair-Pulling)?

Trichotillomania: Bald patches on scalp
Trichotillomania: Bald patches on scalp

Do you know somebody who has a habit of pulling out their hair? Have you found unexplainable clumps of hair in your loved one’s living space? Have you noticed bald patches on your child’s scalp, missing eyebrows or eyelashes?

If you or a loved one have noticed or experienced any of these symptoms, you may be suffering from Trichotillomania (TTM), also known as Hair-Pulling Disorder.

Trichotillomania (Hair-Pulling) is a Body-focused repetitive behaviour (BFRB) disorder that involves repeatedly pulling out hair from any part of the body, such as the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, and even pubic hair, for reasons unrelated to cosmetic purposes.

Criteria for Trichotillomania as Listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V)
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-V) of the American Psychiatric Association, the diagnostic criteria for Trichotillomania are:

  • Recurrent pulling out one’s hair resulting in noticeable hair loss.
  • Repeated attempts to decrease or stop hair pulling.
  • The hair pulling causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  • The hair pulling or hair loss is not attributable to another medical condition (e.g. a dermatological condition).
  • The hair pulling is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder (e.g., attempts to improve a perceived defect or flaw in appearance in body dysmorphic disorder).

Trichotillomania belongs to a unique family of Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs) which also include Excoriation (skin-picking) disorder, nail-biting, lip biting, and cheek chewing.

Causes of Trichotillomania

Missing eyelashes
Missing Eyelashes due to Compulsive Pulling

Trichotillomania (Hair-Pulling) is a complex disorder characterized by the irresistible urge to pull out one’s hair, resulting in noticeable hair loss. The exact cause of this disorder is yet to be fully understood. However, it likely has a multitude of underlying factors, including genetic, environmental, and psychological elements.

Research indicates that Trichotillomania (Hair-Pulling) may be a result of genetic predisposition, as studies have shown that it tends to run in families. Environmental factors such as stressful life events, childhood trauma, and family conflicts can also contribute to the development of this disorder.

Moreover, Trichotillomania (Hair-Pulling) can also be a learned maladaptive behaviour that serves a purpose. For instance, individuals may start pulling their hair out in response to anxiety or stress, and over time, it becomes a habitual behaviour that is difficult to control.

In summary, the exact cause of Trichotillomania (Hair-Pulling) remains unknown, but a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors likely play a role in its development.

How Can Counselling and Psychotherapy Help?

In times of stress or emotional turmoil, and even during moments of relaxation like watching TV, reading, video surfing, or simply lying in bed, you might find yourself caught in the grip of hair-pulling, skin-picking, nail or cheek-biting. It’s as if these behaviours came out of nowhere and take on a life of their own, sprouting like weeds do in a neglected garden. Thankfully, you’re not alone in this struggle. Our counsellors and psychotherapists offer you support and coping techniques to manage these urges effectively, offering you the relief you seek.

During therapy, we will work together to identify your unique “triggers” that prompt the pulling or related behaviours in you or your loved one. Once we’ve identified these triggers, we’ll devise pragmatic, realistic, and actionable strategies to disrupt these behavioural patterns and establish healthier, more desirable and appropriate responses.

Leveraging our time-tested and proven psychological methods, you or your loved one who suffers from Trichotillomania can conquer this distressing habit (hair-pulling, skin-picking, nail or cheek-biting) faster and more effectively.

Support for Family Members

Support for family members
Support for family members

It’s heart-wrenching to see your loved one suffers; you want to be supportive but you don’t know how. We understand your concerns, and that’s why we take care of your needs too. We teach you how to best manage your mental and emotional stress and provide you with practical and beneficial methods for dealing with your loved one’s condition.

The journey to recovery can begin now. Take the first step towards healing by booking a consultation with our counselling centre today.

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