Trichotillomania

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Perhaps more easily understood as compulsive hair-pulling, trichotillomania is a relatively uncommon repetitive behavior in which patients pull out hair from various places on their body. Apart from the potential physical complications, it’s a disorder which can very easily lead to being socially ostracized, especially for a teen. Trichotillomania also causes its patients anxiety, shame and embarrassment.

It’s also treatable. Sovereign Health offers treatment for trichotillomania along with any underlying conditions which may be feeding it at Rancho San Diego, our residential trichotillomania treatment centers for adolescents aged 12 to 17.

Trichotillomania exists in the same family of compulsive disorders including kleptomania and problem gambling. It occurs more often in females than in males, and generally appears between the ages of nine and 13. Infants also occasionally show signs of hair pulling disorder, but in their cases it’s usually much more minor and goes away on its own.

In adolescents and adults, the condition is chronic. Trichotillomania’s behaviors can disappear for a period of time and then return throughout life. Patients with this disorder don’t always pull hair from their scalp; they will also pull hair from their extremities, eyebrows and eyelashes. This repetitive behavior eventually creates bald patches; in a teen, this can lead to intense social problems with their peers.

Symptoms of Trichotillomania

  • Pulling hair out from various parts of the body – trichotillomania doesn’t only affect the scalp
  • Feeling tense if the urge to pull hair is resisted
  • Feelings of pleasure and/or relief after hair is pulled out

Red Flags of Trichotillomania

  • Sudden patches of thin hair or bald spots, including eyebrows and eyelashes
  • An obsession with playing with hair or rubbing hair across the face
  • Chewing or eating hair
  • Rituals and/or patterns based around hair pulling

Causes and Risk Factors for Trichotillomania

Like many other compulsive and emotional disorders, the specific causes for trichotillomania aren’t understood or known. It is possible malfunctioning brain chemicals may play a role, but more research needs to be done. According to Mayo Clinic, however, there are certain risk factors for the disorder, including:

  • Genetics: Like other disorders, having a close relative with trichotillomania appears to be a risk factor for developing the disorder.
  • Age: Trichotillomania develops early – Mayo Clinic says the disorder often appears between the ages of 11 or 13, and persists throughout life. Babies also occasionally participate in hair pulling, but in their cases the behavior is milder than trichotillomania and usually go away.
  • Mental health: For people dealing with anxiety, depression or negative emotions like frustration and tension, trichotillomania can appear as a coping method. Trichotillomania can also appear along with obsessive compulsive disorder and other mental disorders. Additionally, the hair pulling can feel satisfying for some patients.

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Getting Trichotillomania Treatment

When compared to other mental illnesses, trichotillomania can seem somewhat minor. It isn’t. Studies of patients with trichotillomania show that many experience feelings of shame and embarrassment. Unlike depression and anxiety, trichotillomania is a disorder that physically alters a person’s appearance – for a younger patient, embarrassment over how they lost their hair could lead to avoidance of friends and social events. Also they might also be ostracized by peers who don’t understand the situation.

Finally, there are physical problems associated with trichotillomania. Pulling out hair can damage the skin around the roots if done long enough, leading to potential infections. Hair pulling disorder can also affect how hair grows back as well. Finally, eating hair leads to a rare condition called trichobezoar – a hair ball in the body’s digestive tract. It’s a condition which can cause weight loss, blockages and even death.

Compulsive addictions like trichotillomania respond well to treatment. At Rancho San Diego, adolescent patients can receive trichotillomania treatment in a caring, understanding residential environment. Our youngest patients can work on their problems in judgment– and distraction-free environment. Sovereign Health’s holistic approach heals patients in both mind in body – we recognize merely treating trichotillomania’s physical symptoms aren’t enough. We work with our patient to get to the roots of their issue, teaching them new tools and ways to cope with their life and move beyond their problems into their full potential.

Why Choose Sovereign Health?

Sovereign Health is proud to be considered a potential care provider for your adolescent. We’re a leader in the treatment industry because:

  • Rancho San Diego is fully accredited by the Joint Commission, the largest health care accreditation organization in the U.S.
  • It’s staffed by compassionate experts who see their patients as individuals
  • We make use of traditional and alternative therapies to heal our patients in mind and body

Sovereign Health will be with you and your teen every step of the way. For more information on our trichotillomania treatment centers, please call our 24/7 helpline.

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