Sample Essay on Trichotillomania
An Eccentric Disorder
Trichotillomania Essay: Introduction
Trichotillomania, also known as the hair-pulling, is a disorder under the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders. Although the name might sound like the person only pulls the hair on his/her scalp, the term “hair” involves every type of hair in a person’s head. It could be eyebrows, scalp, cheeks, eyelids, etc. The disorder varies from person to person, as for some, it is easy to manage the symptoms, while for others, it is unmanageable (Hurley, 2018). In this paper, I will examine the disorder deeply by mentioning its causes, symptoms, and treatments.
Causes of Trichotillomania is surprisingly still unknown. For some doctors, it is associated with stress, while other doctors claim genes play an important part. Although one thing that is certain is that people with Obsessive -Compulsive Disorder or any other compulsive habits are more likely to develop trichotillomania (Legg, 2016). Examining the genes shows us that if the person has a first-degree family member with trichotillomania, they are more likely to have the same disorder. One other cause I would like to mention is that just like any other disorder, trichotillomania is also associated with childhood trauma and history.
Nonetheless, there is still not enough research to support this claim. In my opinion, trichotillomania should be treated as a medical illness. The reason for this is that apart from the above-mentioned causes, a large percentage of doctors believe that there is a link between the nerve cells in the brain and the disorder. Because the neurotransmitters in the brain don’t work properly, a person with this disorder gets the urge to pull their hair (Lyness, 2016). Pulling the hair can be connected to many feelings. The person can pull his/her hair because negative emotional states like anxiety, stress, tension, boredom, yet this behavior can also work backward. There are two categories in which we can put this disorder. The first one is called focused hair pulling. In FHP, the person pulls his/her hair to feel the relief of anxiety and stress. People with FHP usually associate hair pulling with some kind of ritual, like pulling certain hairs. The second category is called automatic hair pulling. In AHP, as the name suggests, the person doesn't realize he/she is pulling his/her own hair until it is finished. Most of the time, AHP happens because of boredom. It can happen when the patient is studying, listening to music, or watching movies. The third and the last category is called mixed hair pulling, which is the combination of FHP and AHP depending on the situation.
Before examining the symptoms, it is crucial to know that trichotillomania starts between the ages of 10 to 13, and can last a lifetime. Although the symptoms may seem basic and common-sense, they are very important, and most people don't realize it is a disorder. Symptoms start with, as expected, repeatedly pulling hair, eyebrows or eyelashes, or sometimes even other parts of the body such as the genital area. The important symptom is the sense of anxiety before pulling hair. This anxiety vanishes after the person pulls the hair and increases if resisted pulling. The sense of pleasure after pulling hair is the main indicator of this disorder. Now, the symptoms I am going to list are parts of the "ritual" I have mentioned before. The person can pull the hairs in a pattern, bite or chew the pulled hair, or play with it. These are all made subconsciously. Thus, after a while, noticeable hair loss happens on the person, especially on the eyebrows as they grow much slower. This creates a domino effect. The hair-loss creates anxiety and distress on the person. He/she may try to hide out at school or work or even try to stop pulling out hair completely. Yet, as the distress of not pulling them out grows bigger, this solution leads to no success.
The treatment of this disorder has many branches. There are medications that are very helpful in treating trichotillomania. Putting the side effects aside, olanzapine, N-acetylcysteine, and clomipramine have a significant effect on treating this disorder. Yet the only solution is not using medication. Behavioral therapies such as Awareness training, competing for response training, Motivation and compliance training, relaxation training, and generalization training can work as a habit reversal therapy (HRT) that benefits the treatment of a wide range of disorders, and in this case, trichotillomania.
Trichotillomania Essay: Conclusion
In conclusion, trichotillomania is still an unknown disorder. We do not know the exact reason why it happens nor the exact solution as to how it can be treated, but that doesn't mean we are not making progress. With the advancement of behavioral therapies and thankfully, the easy-accessibility of thousands of books and guides as to how to do it, there is not much time until we can consider this disorder completely treatable.
Hurley, K. (2018). What is Trichotillomania? A Closer Look at Hair-Pulling Disorder.
Legg, T. J. (Ed.). (2019, October). What is trichotillomania? – MedicalNewsToday
Lyness, D. A. (Ed.). (2016, March). Trichotillomania (for Teens) - Nemours KidsHealth.
Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling). (n.d.). MHA National.
Trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder). (2016, November 17). MayoClinic