“I’m pulling my hair out!”: Trichotillomania and how to address it

You have heard stressed out and overwhelmed people exclaim that they are pulling their hair out. This expression is meant to tell others that we are feeling so overwhelmed or angry that we would do such an act. However, there are circumstances in life that cause certain individuals to actually pull their hair out.

Trichotillomania is a mental health disorder and is also referred to as Hair-Pulling Disorder. People with Trichotillomania have the recurrent urge to pull out the hair on their bodies. This could be hair from the scalp, eyebrows, arm, or even simply tugging out one’s eyelashes. For the adolescents whom have this diagnosis, it is likely to start directly before or directly after puberty. This diagnosis is related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) because it includes the obsessive thoughts and urges to act on those obsessions.

Hair pulling behavior is linked to anxiety and it can be managed by focusing on reducing one’s anxiety level. Learning how to heal from stressful or traumatic events is key to changing how we think. Then one can move forward with strategies on controlling our urges and exposing ourselves to new situations or routines. Trichotillomania causes a lot of harm and distress to individuals. I am hopeful that this distress can be reduced and that someone with this behavior can find a peaceful lifestyle.

– Angela Zender, Anxiety Coach