When it comes to disorders, especially psychological ones, people only tend to research the ones which directly affect them. They can either be suffering from the disorder themselves, or they have a loved one that is afflicted.

But, with the sheer prevalence of disorders in our society in has becomes each individual’s responsibility to at least be aware of the varying conditions that people suffer from. One such disorder is trichotillomania.

Who does it affect?

According to recent estimates, it is apparent that at least 2% of the population is affected by trichotillomania. This may not seem like much at face value but maybe considering that this amounts to between 2 and 10 million people in America, makes it clear how prevalent the condition is.

The disorder can make itself known at any stage of life, but it starts when one is about 11 years old. The majority of trichotillomania cases are among adults and teenagers, with women being more susceptible. In fact, as much as 80% of trichotillomania victims are women.

What is it?

In its most basic form, it is a hair-pulling condition. Pulling out one or two strands of hair does not constitute a disorder. This is compulsive behavior. A person feels an irresistible urge to pull out their hair. If they attempt to deny the urge, they experience a lot of tension.

This can only be dissipated if they give into the urge and pull out their hair. Once the action is done, a person with this disorder will feel transient relief. This will soon dissolve as soon as the next urge comes.

The lack of control a person has over these urges makes trichotillomania and impulse-control disorder. It is also a long-term one. While certain events and situations can exacerbate the symptoms, the urges are always there, and a person will most likely battle this condition for a large portion of their lives.

This disorder is a psychological one, but it is possible that it is related to some other underlying conditions. This would include depression and anxiety.

The act of pulling out one’s hair could help abate the emotional distress that a person is experiencing. This hair is pulled out of the scalp, but there are other areas where the hair can be acquired. This could be the face (eyebrows and eyelashes), arms, legs, and genitals.

What are the consequences of this disorder?

The obvious conclusion to this condition is alopecia, which is the appearance of bald spots. While this may not seem like such a horrible result, it can leave the sufferer even more emotionally distressed than they were, to begin with. This emotional distress is due to the need for concealment.

A person with this condition would be ashamed of it and therefore would go to varying lengths to conceal it. This could include scarves, hats, makeup and different hairstyles. These items and techniques may succeed in concealing the bald spots for the moment, but the person will live in constant fear of discovery.

They would want to avoid swimming pools and would not even be able to visit the hairdresser. The condition and the results may not be life-threatening, but the fact remains, that it affects a person’s day-to-day life. They cannot go about their daily lives with the same amount of carelessness as other people. They have to pay special attention to things as mundane as the strength of the wind.

How are these people treated?

These people are not exactly frowned upon, but there is also such a lack of awareness that people suffering from this condition are forced to go through it alone.

They do not get an outcry of support, and when they do open up to people, the chances are that that person is not even aware of the condition. Let alone how to help them.

Even people like hairdressers and makeup artists do not have much knowledge on the condition. These people are in the perfect situation to help victims of this disorder, and yet, on the whole, they are blissfully unaware.

Awareness of Trichotillomania

Because this condition mostly lives in the shadows, there is now actually an awareness week which aims to educate the public. This week is the first week of October, and it is shared with Skin-Picking Awareness week.

People who suffer from this condition do not necessarily need your help, but they could use your support. Simply listening to them and letting them know that they are not broken could go a long way.

As of yet, there is no celebrity who is championing this cause. This means that it is up to each person to educate themselves on the matter. It may not be the most publicized of disorders, but it is out there, and if you come into contact with it, it is advisable to at least have a basic understanding of the condition.  

More info can be found on trichstop.com

SOURCES

https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/trichotillomania/

https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/trichotillomania#1

https://www.trichstop.com/info