Trichotillo manias (Hair Pulling Disorders)
The urge to pull out one’s own hair from anywhere on the body, including the scalp, eyebrows, and arms, is referred to as Trichotillomania. This behavior results in noticeable hair loss, distress and significant Social impairment. This disorder can often have severe social consequences and, as a result, those affected can go to great lengths to conceal their behavior. Compulsive hair pulling is more common than once believed and is observed in between 1% and 5% of college students, with female reporting the problem more than males. There may be some genetic influence on trichotillomania, with one study finding a unique genetic mutation in a small number of people.
Psychological treatments, particularly an approach called “Habit Reversal Training.” has the most evidence for success with this disorder. In this treatment, patients are carefully taught to be more aware of their repetitive behavior, particularly as it is just about to begin, and to then substituting the different behavior, such as chewing gum, or some other reasonably pleasurable but harmless behavior. Results may be evident in as little as 4 sessions, but the procedure requires teamwork between the patient and therapist and close monitoring of the behavior throughout the day. Drug treatments, mostly serotonin- specific reuptake inhibitors, held some promise, particularly for Trichotillomania.
David H. Barlow, BOSTON UNIVERSITY
V. Mark Durand, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA- ST. PETERSBERG
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