Trichotillomania (TTM) is a disorder characterized by the pulling out of one’s hair for non-cosmetic purposes, which results in significant hair loss and distress over the pulling. Most individuals report feeling a sense of tension or an urge prior to pulling and either relief, gratification, or pleasure during and immediately after the pulling. Although many people with TTM report experiencing these emotions with their pulling, a number of people pull in a habitual manner and sometimes without any awareness of the action. Most people with TTM report a number of social and economic hardships associated with hair-pulling or the results of the pulling as well as negative mood states and low self-esteem.
The prevalence of TTM is not well-known. Some estimates put it as low as .06% of the population (to meet all the requirements), and a higher percentage if you include individuals who only pull in a habitual manner.
The treatment of choice for TTM is behavioral therapy, often times paired with cognitive techniques. While some medications seem to be helpful in reducing urges to pull, most people do see some benefit from participating in a cognitive behavioral therapy. The core parts of this treatment includes habit reversal (i.e., training yourself to recognize cues that lead to pulling and then practicing an alternative behavior instead of pulling), stimulus control (identify high-risk situations, modify your environment, and prior to entering the high-risk situation, modify behaviors by an action that would physically prevent doing the behavior), and learning to alter or accept thoughts that lead to pulling or negative evaluation of the behavior.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit the Trichotillomania Learning Center website.