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Hair pulling (trichotillomania) is an impulsive control disorder, a psychological condition, where a person pulls hair from their eyebrows, head or other parts of the body. The person experiences an intense urge to pull the hair out and growing tension until they do. Many people pull so much hair over a long enough period of time that bald patches appear.
Hair pulling can cause negative feelings, such as guilt and embarrassment, and the person may try to deny it or cover it up (e.g. with certain hair styles, hair pieces, wigs and hats). It can impact upon a person’s social life and have an adverse effect upon their performance at school or work. Sometimes hair pulling can make the person feel unattractive and can lead to low self-esteem and confidence.
It is claimed that 1-2% of the population experience hair pulling and whilst it is also claimed that 90% of sufferers are female it may simply be that males are less likely to seek help. Hair pulling is usually accompanied with underlying anxiety and some other form of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
The persistence of this compulsion can vary considerably. For some people, at some times, it is mild and can be modified with a little extra awareness and focus. For others, the urge can become so overpowering that it makes thinking of anything else almost impossible and is more like an addiction.
It’s not known what causes trichotillomania, but there are several theories. Some experts think hair pulling is a type of addiction. The more you pull your hair out, the more you want to keep doing it. Alternatively hair pulling may be a reflection of an underlying mental health problem whereby the person finds that hair pulling alleviates stress or anxiety. In other cases hair pulling can be a form of self-harm whereby the person deliberately injures themselves as a way of seeking temporary relief from emotional distress.
Hypnotherapy is very effective at helping to overcome the urges to hair pull and it also deals with any underlying issues. Additionally the hypnotherapist will help to improve the client’s self-esteem and confidence.
The number of sessions required varies as every client is unique but most hair pulling clients only need four to six sessions.