Trichotillomania is Ruining My Life

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Being a girl, arent you supposed to have pretty hair? Summers almost here. And i wish i could look nice. But its not fun when you have people questiong you on everything. Do you cut your hair? Are you crazy? Do u have cancer? And the people who ask tht are my friends. “friends” …. they ignore now, because im so deep in my depression that i just annoy them. I havent been to a therapist, but my doctor said i should find one and my dad has been looking too. But im scared.. i want a psycho-analysis… really bad. i just dont want to be like this anymore. I was suicidal i nthe beginning of skool. I cut myself. Friends noticed. Called me retarded. But i stopped. and ive read some other articles and theyve described how they could be happy and fun and that could all change in 1 second and be sad and depressed and quiet.. i frgot wat it was called. but that is meeee….. all the time. i wish i was normal. i ddidnt choose to be like this.. you cant just stop (trich) my mom is like > just stop. its all your fault.you shoulda never started. you look like an idiot… all i want is some positive crap talk. and its not like i can tell anyone what i think is wrong with me because its just embaressing. im scared what theyll think. not even my best friend knows.. wow .. i wouldnt even know what advice to write. but please do write… kthanx

A. It sounds as if you are experiencing a very difficult time. Trichotillomania is a mental health disorder in which an individual has a strong urge to pull out their hair. It is considered an anxiety disorder. It is not uncommon for individuals with trichotillomania to also have co-occurring depression symptoms. That is likely the case with you. Other concerning symptoms include suicidal ideation and cutting behavior.

It is important that you know that trichotillomania is a treatable disorder. Unfortunately, it is not something that one can simply “stop” doing. Nor can someone “stop” being depressed. Depression and trichotillomania are real disorders that usually require treatment. I am relatively certain that if you could have simply stopped pulling out your hair or being depressed, you would have. It is not that easy and it is causing you great distress. Unfortunately, your mother may not be familiar with trichotillomania or mental health disorders in general and that might be why she is saying hurtful things to you. On the positive side, your father is interested in helping you access treatment. This is very encouraging. Try to keep this fact in mind when you feel upset.

I want to provide you with some resources about trichotillomania. It is important that you educate yourself about the disorder. There are several websites that are very good. They may help you, in the interim, while you are awaiting treatment to begin. One good website is the Trichotillomania Learning Center . Other helpful websites include the OCD Center of Los Angeles and Psych Central’s OCD and trichotillomania online support group forum.

Treatment for trichotillomania often includes cognitive behavioral therapy. Another common treatment is called Habit Reversal Therapy (HRT). HRT involves teaching clients how to be more aware of the triggers or urges to pull out their hair. It also helps individuals learn ways to stop unwanted behavior. Both treatments have been shown to be effective.

I would encourage you not to give up hope. It sounds as if your father understands that help is necessary and is in the process of trying to help you access treatment. Help is on the horizon.

In the meantime, as I mentioned, it is important to learn as much about the disorder as possible. If you are feeling overwhelmed or suicidal, report this to your parents or a mental health professional immediately. Do not hesitate to go to an emergency room if you feel that you might harm yourself. A phone number that you should have in your possession is the suicide prevention hotline. They can be reached at 800-273-8255.

I wish you the best of luck. Please do not hesitate to write back with further questions or concerns. I will be glad to try and help you. Thank you for writing.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 May 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Trichotillomania is Ruining My Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/05/01/trichotillomania-is-ruining-my-life/

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