Hair-Pulling Disorder: What It Is and What You Can Do About It

hair-pulling disorder

Do you have a strong urge to pull out hair from your scalp or your eyebrows? If so, you may be suffering from the hair-pulling disorder. Also known as trichotillomania, doctors classify it as a mental disorder. After all, the symptoms occur as a result of your inability to control your impulses.

Causes and Symptoms

The hair-pulling disorder usually first occurs during puberty. For many teens, it is a way to deal with excess stress and anxiety. But most of them won’t even be aware of what they’re doing. Over time, this type of behavior may become addictive. So, while stress is the initial cause, the problem can persist even when there’s no stress to trigger it.

If you notice any of the following signs, you may be suffering from trichotillomania:

  • You’re pulling out hair from your eyebrows, eyelashes, or your scalp on a regular basis.
  • Before you pull out a hair, you feel very tense. Consequently, you feel satisfaction or relief after you’ve pulled out a hair.
  • You prefer pulling out hairs from one specific area of your body.
  • After you pull out a hair, you tend either play with it, chew it, or eat it.
  • You’re aware of the problem and are trying to stop pulling out your hair with no success.
  • Your tendency to pull out your hair is causing you stress and problems at school, at work, or in social situations.

What You Can Do

Therapy is the only proven way to treat the hair-pulling disorder. Your therapist will first help you identify the situations in which you’re most likely to pull out your hair. Then they’ll work with you to reverse this habit. They’ll also help you accept your problem and consciously work to solve it.

In most cases, you won’t have to take any medication. But if therapy doesn’t seem to help, your doctor may prescribe some antidepressant. Before you start taking it, they’ll inform you about its benefits, as well as its possible side effects.