What is Trichotillomania (Compulsive Hair Pulling)?

what is trichotillomania

So, let’s talk about something that might be a bit tough to handle on your own—what is Trichotillomania (compulsive hair pulling). You probably know I’m referring to that strong urge to pull out your hair, and I know it might feel a little overwhelming. But you’re not alone, and understanding what’s going on is the first step towards feeling better.

What is Trichotillomania?

Trichotillomania (or “trich” for short) is like an uninvited guest in your mind that urges you to pull out your hair. It could be from your scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows—really, anywhere. It’s considered an impulse control disorder, and it can lead to noticeable hair loss and a whole lot of mixed feelings. Some estimates put the prevalence of trich as high as 2% of the population (that’s over 6 million people just in the US!).

Recognizing the Signs

If you’re wondering whether what you’re experiencing is Trichotillomania, here are some of the signs:

  • Do you find yourself pulling your hair often, maybe even without realizing it until later?
  • Is there a sort of tension that builds up before you pull, and some relief afterward?
  • Have you noticed some thinning or less hair in the spots where you pull?
  • Do you have certain types of hair you go for, or maybe a ritual that you tend to follow?
  • Does it occur more frequently during periods of stress in your life?

If any of these ring a bell, know that these signs are common in folks with trichotillomania. You’re definitely not the only one, and it’s okay to seek help.

Psychological Triggers

Now, let’s talk about what might be causing this urge. Often, it’s stress or anxiety knocking at your door, making everything feel ten times heavier (and I don’t mean stress at that very moment, but rather a build-up of stress over time). For some, pulling hair is a way to cope with these feelings. It’s not just a bad habit; it’s a bit more complicated than that. It’s often a subconscious action during chill times, and for others, it’s a conscious behavior when they’re super focused or even stressed.

Remember, trichotillomania is a real, recognized condition, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s all about understanding those triggers and finding ways to manage them, and that’s something we can work on together.

But not everyone with emotional stress pulls out their hair. If you’re curious as to why people develop Trichotillomania specifically as opposed to some other emotional problem, or how to resolve it, check out my explanation here.

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