Trichotillomania (Hair pulling)

What is Trichotillomania?

Trichotillomania (TTM, also known as hair-pulling disorder) is characterized by the recurrent pulling out of one’s own hair, and repeated attempts to decrease hair pulling. For many individuals with TTM, hair pulling causes significant distress and impairment in functioning (e.g., problems at work, difficulties at school, health-related problems).

Symptoms

TTM primarily consists of repetitive and seemingly uncontrollable hair pulling.  Individuals may use hands to remove body hair, but can also use instruments like tweezers. Hair can be pulled from any part of the body, and often includes areas such as the scalp and facial hair.  Some individuals find themselves engaging in hair pulling during specific situations/settings/activities (e.g., sitting on the couch, homework in bedroom, going to the bathroom) or notice that hair-pulling episodes are associated with certain emotional states (e.g., feeling anxious, upset, frustrated, or depressed).

Treatment

Behavioral therapies such as habit reversal training (HRT) have demonstrated considerable benefit for reducing hair pulling.  During behavior therapy, patients and families learn to identify triggers associated with hair pulling and implement strategies to reduce hair-pulling behaviors.  Other treatment options for patients with TTM may include serotonin-based medications or n-acetylcysteine (NAC). However, these other treatments have less empirical support in comparison to behavior therapy.

Our Research on TTM

Please help us learn more about TTM and how best to help patients and families overcome these symptoms by participating in our research. Contact us using this contact form, call our office at (443) 287-7157, or email us at email-coach to learn more about ongoing research studies.

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