What is Trichotillomania or “Trich”? How Does It Affect My Hair And How Is It Treated?

Woman losing hair on hairbrushTrichotillomania, or “Trich”, is the compulsive urge to pull out one’s own hair, often leading to noticeable hair loss, distress, and social or functional impairment. It is classified as an impulse control disorder by the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and is often chronic and difficult to treat.

In today’s society, we have largely become overworked, and underpaid.  The income gap continues to widen, and many have lost hope for what was once possible; a long-term, stable career situation with a happy life/work balance.  Whether incidentally or coincidentally, levels of pollution and toxins in our air, water, and food supplies have reached an all-time high, and we are exposed to them daily.  Stress is at an all-time high worldwide.  Many of us use computers in our jobs, and studies show that the multitasking behavior we become addicted to through our computer use actually decreases productivity, both at work AND after work during everyday cognitive functions.

Have you ever experienced the “high” associated with checking your email repeatedly?  Not realized you checked it multiple times in a half-hour period?  Experienced a small thrill when something came through, just to be let down when it was just something work-related?  The whole situation is enough to drive just about anyone to obsessive-compulsive behavior, even if only in small ways.

Studies have shown the ability of stress to wreak havoc on the body.  In fact, a study linking the body’s emotional and physical pain systems actually proved that taking Tylenol after being told hurtful words improved one’s feelings and reduced both the emotional and physical pain associated therein.  When we internalize stress, and fail to deal with it properly, it must manifest itself in some way.  Whether it be increased inflammation within the body, or obsessive or depressive behaviors, stress is definitely bad for your health.  Trichotillomania has also been shown in research studies to have a high overlap with post traumatic stress disorder.

Treating Trichotillomania

While most children outgrow trichotillomania, many adults must undergo multifaceted treatment to improve the situation.  Treatment usually begins by raising awareness of the behavior and the science surrounding it within the individual.  Many people are unaware that they are actually making their hair loss worse by continually picking at their hair, or spreading the hair apart to check their scalp in the mirror, or simply pulling at the hair as a nervous habit.

The threshold issue that must be dealt with is stress; and a band-aid approach will typically not suffice as a long-term solution.  One must identify and solve stress with long term solutions, including Habit Reversal Training, and Hypnosis (our tests found Andrew Johnson’s mobile relaxation hypnosis app to be highly effective in this area).  Finally, when medication is required, clomipramine, an antidepressant of the tricyclic class, has been shown to be highly effective in treating trich, while SSRIs were generally low in effectiveness.

Learn more about reprogramming thoughts, eliminating fundamental root causes of stress, and priming the mind for optimal hair regrowth.

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