Psychological problems, like physical ailments, are categorised into relevant groups for better understanding, diagnosis and treatment.
Some of those categories, such as depression and anxiety disorders, are more common, found in most parts of the world, covered broadly in the media and frequently talked about.
However, there are those less discussed psychological disorders, which we know little about, yet millions may be affected, suffering in silence due to the ambiguity surrounding it.
One of these disorders is known as Trichotillomania, a type of compulsive behaviour that involves strong urges to pull out one’s own hair. The person affected by this disfiguring and emotionally painful condition might sit for hours, pulling or twisting the hair until it breaks off.
More than 35,000 people around the world have been diagnosed with Trichotillomania, affecting more women than men. Although it may begin as early as 2, the average age people start hair pulling is 12 years old.
The hair may come out in round patches and appear irregular. The person affected may also pluck other hair covered areas, such as the eyebrows, eyelashes, or body hair however predominantly, since that would be more painful, hair on the scalp is pulled.
Since issues related to a change of appearance is always a sensitive topic to discuss, especially when linked to a psychological disorder, most people suffering from trichotillomania will deny this behaviour, blaming physical related factors such as hair falling out naturally and will go to great lengths to hide their compulsion.
Signs we can look out for:
· An uneven appearance to the hair
· Bare patches
· Bowel blockage (obstruction) if people eat the hair they pull out
· Constant tugging, pulling, or twisting of hair
· Denying the hair pulling
· Hair re-growth that feels like stubble in the bare spots
· Increasing sense of tension before the hair pulling
· Other self-injury behaviors
· Sense of relief, pleasure, or gratification after the hair pulling
Trichotillomania Support UK conducted an extensive survey and their findings have helped raise awareness regarding this psychological condition. 11,000 people suffering from trichotillomania were asked about the most common triggers associated with hair pulling and the results have been separated into six groups below.