Trichotillomania Treatment in Bellevue, WA
Trichotillomania is recognized in the mental health industry as an impulse control disorder in which people chronically pull their hair out. Those who suffer from trichotillomania typically understand that they are causing themselves harm, but are unable to resist the urge to pull out their hair. In severe cases of trichotillomania, afflicted patients may avoid social settings and take extensive action to hide the patches of missing hair on their head. Trichotillomania usually affects its patients for the long-term and can worsen over time if not addressed. However, it is possible for symptoms to become intermittent over the course of weeks, months or years.
Trichotillomania can start as early as age 12. However, it is not unique to this age and can start earlier or later in life. It's not unusual for a stressful or even traumatic event to trigger trichotillomania, such as a child changing schools due to relocation or hormonal changes associated with puberty. Other possible causes include:
- Strained family relationships
- The death of a parent
The main, distinctive characteristic of trichotillomania is pulling your hair out repeatedly, often from the scalp. However, it can also include eyelashes, eyebrows or other areas of the body. These areas may vary over time. It can be either intentional (such as to get relief from the urge) or subconscious, in situations such as reading or watching TV, or out of boredom.
Some of the other symptoms of trichotillomania include:
- An increase in the sense of tension when trying to avoid pulling your hair
- A feeling of relief once your hair is pulled
- Hair that's thinned, shortened or areas that are bald.
- Feelings of distress at work or in social settings
- Inspecting or twirling hair or pulling between teeth
- Chewing on or eating pulled out hair
- Trying to hide the problem with hats, scarves, false eyelashes or false eyebrows
Trichotillomania Diagnosis and Treatment
As a mental health disorder, trichotillomania is primarily diagnosed by physical observation. Steps that your healthcare provider decides to take may start with referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist for psychiatric assessment.
If referred, discussion with the psychiatrist or psychologist will take place in order to determine if impulsive control is the issue. They will likely ask about the frequency of your hair pulling and the feelings associated with the inability to hair pull versus when you are able.
There is no definitive treatment plan for those who suffer from trichotillomania. Common therapies recommended for trichotillomania patients include:
- Habit reversal training to help you determine triggers and to teach you how to replace hair pulling with a harmless alternative
- Cognitive therapy to challenge you current set of beliefs
- Support groups for those who feel alone or need an outlet to talk to others with similar experiences
- Awareness training to record the details of hair pulling and the circumstances that led to the impulse
- Relaxation techniques to help control the onset of urges
There are currently no FDA-approved medications for the treatment of trichotillomania. Often, if medication is prescribed, it is to treat a potential underlying issue contributing to trichotillomania such as depression or OCD. A few common medications that can be prescribed are:
- Antidepressants, to treat depression
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, to treat OCD
- Tricycle antidepressant, to treat panic disorder, major depression, pain
- Valporate, which is primarily used as an anticonvulsant and mood stabilizing drug
- Lithium Carbonate, which is primarily used to treat bipolar disorder
As with all prescription medication, there are associated risks and side effects to their usage. Your healthcare provider will discuss all of these with you prior to writing you a prescription. Lifestyle recommendations may be suggested as an alternative or complement to medication.
Request more information about trichotillomania treatment today. Call (206) 402-3375 or contact Psychiatry Northwest online.
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Seattle, WA 98102
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