What is trichotillomania (hair pulling)?

hair pulling and trichotillomania

Trichotillomania (that’s a bit of a mouthful, so lets call it “trich”) is an anxiety related problem where the individual pulls at, or pulls out hair. This is commonly eyelashes, eyebrows or the hair on their head.

Trich can often lead to the removal of all eyelashes or eyebrows, or both. In addition, it can also lead to bald patches or severe baldness for those that pull the hair on their heads.

What causes trichotillomania?

Trich is a symptom of anxiety and the action of pulling out the hair provides a momentary release from the anxiety. When experiencing trich the individual is thinking in an obsessive and compulsive way. This means that someone is constantly thinking over and over the same thing – namely the thing that they are anxious about. Each time they think about the event, issue or experience they create anxiety. Because they don’t like the feeling of being anxious, they will do something to get themselves away from that feeling – this is where the hair pulling comes in. Pulling their hair is a compulsive distracation from the obsessive and anxious thoughts.

Where does anxiety start?

anxiety and hair pulling

We create anxiety in any situation that we don’t feel confident in or don’t believe we can cope in. This can be due to low self-esteem, social anxiety, a feeling of being powerless and unhelpful thinking styles. When self esteem is low, we don’t have belief in ourselves, this means that we can feel powerless in situations and believe we do not have the ability to survive them. In addition, if we don’t have a high opinion of ourselves we will worry what others may think of us, what we are wearing, what we have said etc. These feelings can then be blown up and maintained by unhelpful thinking styles, meaning that a lot of anxiety is generated.

Can you stop trichotillomania?

Yes, by learning and understanding how anxiety is generated through different thinking styes and unstable psychological foundation stones. When this is understood it is much easier to unravel it and challenge the thinking, aswell as learn how to tolerate uncomfortable feelings or situations. Improving self esteem and a sense of being powerful is also key.

For help with trichotillomania please get in touch with Thrive with Ali