Posts tagged hair-pulling disorder
A Beginner’s Guide to Treating Trichotillomania: Separating Science from Pseudoscience

Note: This article is written in honor of the National Trichotillomania Awareness Week. To learn more about Trichotillomania, visit the Trichotillomania Learning Center.

I often tell my colleagues that trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder) represents the wild west of psychological disorders. Unfortunately, it remains one of the least researched and most misunderstood disorders in the DSM. Additionally, there is a lot of pseudoscience, snake oil, and plain old quackery on the internet about the best way to treat it.

In this article, I will highlight what we do know about scientifically supported treatments for trichotillomania. As a disclaimer, this is only an introduction to treating trichotillomania and is not intended to formally train clinicians. Lastly, I will not be reviewing medical treatments for trichotillomania (you can learn more about those here).

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Trichotillomania & Hair Pulling: It’s More than Just Stress!

You’ve probably heard the saying, “I’m so stressed I just want to pull my hair out!” This leads most people to think trichotillomania (soon to be renamed as hair pulling disorder) is a rare disorder involving stress and anxiety. This perception of hair pulling is based more on pop culture than reality. Researchers now know that trichotillomania is far more common than once thought and is uniquely different from anxiety disorders.

While estimates vary, about 1 in 50 or 2% of the general population has trichotillomania. This makes the disorder more common than Schizophrenia and Bipolar Depression. Unlike anxiety disorders (e.g. panic disorder, social anxiety, PTSD) where the main symptoms are stress and fear, trichotillomania has a far more complex and heterogeneous set of symptoms.

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