Do you sometimes feel like pulling your hair? Well, you might not know it, but it is a mental health condition known as ‘Trichotillomania’. It is a recurring compulsion to pull your hair and most times resisting the urge can be difficult. The condition seldom begins when you are still an adolescent and lasts till you become much older; some say a lifetime. How can medical practitioners know if you’ve got trich or not?
– By checking how often you lose hair. – Asking you questions about your hair loss. – Eliminating through medical tests other causes of hair loss. – Recognizing the presence of mental health challenges associated with it – Diagnostic using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
The condition causes emotional and physical distress so much that it makes the individual withdraw from social gatherings for fear of being judged. People with trich can pull hair not only from their head but from other parts of the body too like the eyelashes or eyebrows. Medically speaking, there is no available cure to treat the disorder, however, it can be managed effectively. A good way to do that would be through therapy by an experienced and qualified behavior practitioner. That is the ideal way to handle this condition. In this article, you would learn what you can about it.
Create Counter Responses
Habit Reversal Training is a form of behavior therapy that serves as a primary treatment for trichotillomania; you learn how to identify situations where you might pull your hair and substitute alternative behaviors instead. If you use your hands, you could learn a skill or do some other activities with your hands such that they’re kept busy doing something else when the urge comes. Some of those activities might include wearing gloves, sitting on the hands, clenching fists, or fidgeting.
Connect With Others
One thing you should know about this disorder is that you’re not alone in this, so you shouldn’t isolate yourself. Connect with the GROW community for training, support, and coaching. Join online or physical support groups to connect with others and learn how they’re coping, get motivated, and boost your confidence by assisting others.
Create Stimulus Controls
Another form of the HRT technique is to tweak the environment to make it quite difficult to pull your hair. Most times, it is easier to pull hair in a comfortable environment like your house. You can be easily triggered in that kind of environment. What you should do, in this case, is to avoid staying home alone or manipulate the environment such that it becomes impossible to do so.
Interrupt the Urge With Tools
Since you use your hands to pull hair, how about alerting yourself when your hands are getting ready to pull? There are technological devices you can wear that you can teach to notify you when your hands are getting close to your hair, like the technology developed by HabitAware.
Even though there are no specific medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating trichotillomania, there are certain medications that can help you control the symptoms. It is, however, best you contact your doctor to recommend medications for you. Some practitioners suggest antidepressants like clomipramine and other medications that influence neurotransmitters that relate to moods, such as N-acetylcysteine and olanzapine. The benefit of medications needs to always be balanced against any side effects.
Identify and Disrupt Negative Feelings
Develop the practice of nonjudgmental awareness coupled with mindfulness; it helps you to be able to recognize what negative thoughts or feelings precedes the act of pulling your hair. It becomes easier to address after identifying your negative thoughts. This doesn’t replace the role of your therapist in any way, but you should learn to dispute negative thoughts and feelings by writing them down and intentionally replacing them. So, in moments when you feel like pulling your hair, put down that emotion in writing.
Identify What Triggers It
Triggers are internal or external factors that you experience before you start pulling. The internal factors are essentially thoughts, sensations, and emotional states while the external cues are events, places, people, or situations. There is usually a pattern in behavioral trends and triggers. Certain triggers are easily identifiable while others are a little more hidden; anxiety and stress are examples of triggers for people who struggle with hair-pulling. People who usually experience anxiety or stress pull their hair as a means to calm themselves, and others do that as a form of distraction. Irrespective of the cause of why you’re pulling, make an effort to change the behavior. Consider them as exercises to understand yourself. The whole idea behind identifying triggers is to train yourself to handle the situation more carefully. You should be ready to do what it takes to get ahead of your hair-pulling. You definitely aren’t comfortable about it, but you can follow these strategies and curb the urges gradually.
Tags: Disrupt Negative Feelings, GROW, HRT technique, Medications, nomorehairpulling, Stimulus Controls, Triggers
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