Understanding and Treating Trichotillomania in Teens

Teens Dealing With Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling Disorder)

Understanding and Treating Trichotillomania in Teens


The teenage years are an emotionally tumultuous time in anyone’s life across all cultures. In psychology the development of a healthy ego is fundamental to healthy functioning in society. According to one of the pioneers in psychological theory, Erik Erikson, the ego develops as it successfully resolves crises that are distinctly social in nature.

The teen years is when we transition between childhood and adulthood and is therefore a very important stage in our development. According to Erikson, the primary task in adolscence is resolving the internal conflict known as identity versus role confusion.

In trying to establish an identity teenagers are more susceptible to peer pressure and social norms, and are therefore more vulnerable to the negative messaging we are bombarded with in the media on a daily basis. The added pressure of modern society means that teenagers are even more stressed out than adults as was found in a 2013 American Psychological Association report.

This puts teenagers at a higher risk for developing psychological disorders and trichotillomania is no exception.

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Trich in Teens

Trichotillomania (TTM) is a condition which has been linked with “significant morbidity, comorbidity, and functional impairment.” A lot of research has been conducted to understand its impact, associated issues and methods to control it. TTM in simple words is the continuous and excessive pulling of hair that results in a large amount of hair loss.

As compared to adults it is 7 times more prevalent in children. The most affected age is between 4 and 17 years. Since this is a dermatological condition, these patients need to see a dermatologist followed by a psychiatrist.

According to The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5):

«Trichotillomania can be categorized into an obsessive-compulsive and related disorder which is characterized by recurrent body-focused repetitive behavior (hair pulling) and repeated attempts to decrease or stop the behavior.”

One survey was conducted where 133 youth aged between 10 and 17 years were included. These respondents pulled hair from their scalps, eyelashes and eyebrows. Most of them claimed that hair pulling provided them with relief from tension.

The research revealed that most of them felt anxiety, depression and also suffered from slight impairment in terms of their social and academic abilities. After treatment for TTM, parents of 17% children and adolescents reported improvement.

The exact cause of TTM is still unknown.. Some theories consider it an addiction while others have observed that the affected individual experiences a sense of release or relief from emotional distress or tension. Experts believe that therapy and emotional support are the most effective means of managing this behavior.

One major concern amongst physicians associated with TTM is the image created by media. The image that media creates via movies, ads etc. has a great influence on teenagers and young adults. They want to follow the specific standards of beauty and want to look models and celebrities.

If friends and family are not supportive and feel embarrassed about the condition, the sufferer feels greater distress. Especially those going through adolescent are conscious about their social status and therefore feel depressed. The need to look good and more your peers also puts a lot of pressure on them.

Not being able to look your peers can result in further depression and thus worsening of the TTM condition.

Teen Need Support and Acceptance

The emotional impact of this condition cannot be ignored. Especially teenagers who are already going through a lot in terms of peer pressure, hormonal changes and feel that no one can understand them, often end up feeling alone, rejected and/or depressed.

Teenagers may experience identity crisis, experience bullying, rejection from the opposite sex etc and end up with an obsessive-compulsive disorder TTM. Hence adolescent already being a difficult time combined with such disorders, can worsen the journey.

These experiences then impact individuals in their adulthood and remain a haunting memory for life. Thus these conditions must be addressed and treated on time. Conditions such as TTM are not only difficult to explain but quite embarrassing for sufferers to share and seek help for.

It is therefore important for the person’s parents, siblings and friends to take the affectee into confidence and encourage him/her to seek professional help. There are TTM centers that can ensure recovery via different tools and resources.

With the internet it has become as simple as finding help online within the comfort of your own home. Further you do not have to face anyone and can talk to experts without revealing your identity if the situation is very disturbing for you and you do not wish to have a face-to-face conversation.

Search for experts in your locality via Google and find emails and contact numbers. Once you have confidence to face people, visit the counselor/physician for a physical examination. Take a parent, sibling or a friend you are comfortable with and ask them to accompany you.

Treating it sooner can save the patient time and pain. Look for online communities where people are discussing their problems related to TTM. See how they are managing this issue and how they sought professional support. This can help you boost your confidence and approach professional help.

One example of such a site that seemed very informative and helpful is PsychForums. Just a simple search for the work trichotillomania brings up 348 search results of people reaching out for help, offering hope with their personl stories or just seeking answers.

There may be many more if you search related terms hair pulling, and that is only one of many support forums. On our own forum here at Trichstop many people have used the space to ask questions and we try our best to respond to these questions.

Talking to people who have suffered this condition can be highly beneficial as you feel more relaxed talking to someone who has gone through the same problem. But any form of emotional support in general makes a huge difference to the probability of success in managinf this condition.

Источник: https://www.trichstop.com/teens-trich


Understanding and Treating Trichotillomania in Teens

Daria used to make up excuses for the bald spot on the back of her head, saying the baseball caps she had to wear at her job were too tight. She knew people doubted her stories, especially family members. But she couldn't face telling them what was really happening: She'd been pulling her hair out since she was 12.

Daria had no idea why she pulled her hair. She just knew that she couldn't stop. 

What Is Trichotillomania?

Trichotillomania (pronounced: trik-oh-till-oh-MAY-nee-uh) is a condition that gives some people strong urges to pull out their own hair. It can affect people of any age.

People with trichotillomania pull hair out at the root from places the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, or pubic area.

Some people with the condition pull large handfuls of hair, which can leave bald patches on the scalp or eyebrows. Other people pull out their hair one strand at a time. They might inspect or play with the strand after pulling it out. About half of people with trichotillomania put the hair in their mouths after pulling it.

Some people are very aware of their pulling. Others seem to do it in a very absent-minded way, without really noticing what they're doing.

For people with trichotillomania, resisting the urge to pull out their hair feels as hard as resisting the urge to scratch a very itchy itch. 

Some people say that the urge to pull starts with a feeling in their scalp or skin, an itch or a tingle. Pulling the hair seems the only way to get relief. People might have a brief feeling of satisfaction for a moment after pulling out their hair.

People with trichotillomania may feel embarrassed, frustrated, ashamed, or depressed about it. They may worry what others will think or say. They might feel nagged by people who don't understand that they're not doing this on purpose. 

People with trichotillomania usually try to hide the behavior from others — even their families. This can make it difficult to get help.

Having trichotillomania can affect how people feel about themselves. Some are self-conscious about how hair pulling affects their appearance. They might feel less confident about making friends or dating. Others can feel powerless to control the urge to pull or blame themselves for not being able to stop.

What Causes Trichotillomania?

No one knows exactly why some people develop trichotillomania. Stress may play a part. So might a person's genes. People who have other compulsive habits or OCD may be more ly to develop trichotillomania.

Experts think the urge to pull hair happens because the brain's chemical signals (called neurotransmitters) don't work properly. This creates the irresistible urges that lead people to pull their hair. 

Pulling the hair gives the person a feeling of relief or satisfaction. The more the person gives in to the urge by pulling and has the brief feeling of relief afterwards, the stronger the habit becomes. The longer this continues, the harder it is to resist the urge when it happens again. 

How Do People Overcome It?

People with trichotillomania usually need help from medical and behavioral specialists in order to stop. With the right help, most people overcome their hair-pulling urges. When someone is able to stop pulling, hair usually grows back.

Overcoming hair-pulling urges may involve a type of behavioral therapy called habit substitution, taking medicine, or a combination of therapy and medicine.

In therapy, people with trichotillomania learn about urges. They learn how urges fade on their own when people don't give in to them, and how urges get stronger and happen more often when people do give in. They learn to identify situations, places, or times they usually have an urge to pull. 

Therapists teach people with trichotillomania how to plan a replacement habit they can do when they feel a strong urge to pull hair.

Replacement habits might be things squeezing a stress ball, handling textured objects, or drawing. The therapist guides the person on how to use the new habit to resist the urge to pull hair.

With practice, a person gets better at resisting the urge to pull. The urge becomes weaker and easier to resist. 

Because the urges and habits that lead to hair pulling are so strong, resisting can be difficult at first. People may feel more tension or anxiety as they begin to resist urges to pull. A therapist can coach a person through these difficult parts and offer support and practical advice about how to reverse the powerful urges.

Sometimes medicines can help the brain deal better with urges, making them easier to resist. A therapist may also help people with trichotillomania learn to manage stress, deal with perfectionism, or work out other compulsive habits they may have, nail biting. 

If you're worried about hair pulling, talk to a parent, school counselor, or someone you trust about getting help overcoming the problem.

Источник: https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/trichotillomania.html

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