Trichotillomania is a severe mental health condition where a patient pulls out their own hair. However, the effects of Trichotillomania can be challenging and could bring negative effects on the well-being if the condition starts prevailing in your teens, adolescents, and adult years. Fortunately, treatment for trichotillomania is available to those who experience this condition.
To begin with the complete treatment, it is important to have a complete diagnosis.
Diagnosis and treatment for trichotillomania
The diagnosis for the treatment for trichotillomania may include;
- Communicating to know the cause of hair loss with the patient
- Examining the amount of hair, a patient might have lost during this condition.
- Identifying if a medical or physical issue is there associated with the loss or pulling of hair.
- Eliminating possible causes of hair loss or pulling hair by performing a range of diagnosis
- Diagnosing the symptoms using the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association
The world has limited research and treatment for trichotillomania which is also called TTM available. However, certain treatments have helped patients in dealing with Trichotillomania. Some of them are listed below;
Trichotillomania can be treated through different types of therapies which particularly include;
Cognitive therapy – Cognitive therapy believes in identifying and examining any relation with your distorted beliefs that make a patient pull their hair.
Habit Reversal training – This is one of the primary therapy treatments for Trichotillomania where a person begins recognizing the symptoms and situations which trigger the condition of pulling hair. Through this, the behavioral changes are substituted with other behaviors.
In the first place, the patient will be told to clench their fists to stop themselves from pulling hair. This habit reversal therapy has many versions. One of the versions is called decoupling in which the patient is trained to direct their hand to another location when they feel like pulling hair.
Not only trichotillomania, but often mental health problems can be easily treated with therapies such as anxiety due to substance abuse, depression, and recovering from trauma.
Certain medications are there that can help Trichotillomania patients in recovering. However, none of them have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, especially for patients with Trichotillomania.
Medications that help in mental disorders that doctors often suggest include antidepressants like Anafranil (clomipramine). According to research, another medication that can benefit Trichotillomania is N-acetylcysteine. It is a kind of amino acid that affects neurotransmitters that control mood. Another medication that research suggests includes an atypical antipsychotic medicine – Olanzapine (Zyprexa).
It is important to note that even if you have Trichotillomania symptoms, you should not take any medication until your doctor suggests one. Consult your doctor to have the best option for Trichotillomania treatment which can be either therapy or prescription.
Support and coping with Trichotillomania
Many Trichotillomania patients report that most of the Trichotillomania episodes occur when they experience loneliness. Join a support group and places, where people have the same experience similar to the patient, may help in getting over the feeling.
For this, doctors and Trichotillomania patient families can help the person to find the groups and communities where a patient can get over the illness quickly.
Preparing for appointment
Treatment for trichotillomania can only start when a person realizes that they need help. Seeking help should be one of the forms of support for people suffering from Trichotillomania.
At first, the patient must seek primary care through a dermatologist or doctor. If needed, they’ll refer you to a psychiatric or mental health professional.
Before visiting your mental health doctor, you must jot down the important information that you need to share with your doctor. You can;
- Make a list of symptoms that you are expecting – Trichotillomania symptoms, however, are not just limited to pulling hair. They can stretch themselves to many other physical and psychological problems. Note down the symptoms you feel when you start pulling your hair. Write what you have tried to lessen the problem and what triggers you to lead the situation even worse.
- All medications – Jot down the list of medication, drugs, herbal, or therapies that you are using to cope with Trichotillomania. Also, ensure to include how long you have been taking them.
- Key personal information – It can include the stress you may be having any incident that you went through recently that causes anxiety or any inherited mental disorder that leads you to pull your hair.
You also should write all the queries you might want to ask from your doctor. These may include;
- How will they diagnose the condition?
- What might have been the reason that caused you the problem?
- What treatments for Trichotillomania are there?
- If you start taking treatment right away, how long will it take to start affecting your health?
- Is there any other way to get rid of the symptoms other than therapies or medication?
- What would be the side effects of the medications that he will recommend?
- What treatment plan is there for the medication?
- How long do you have to keep these medications?
- What to do if you get a panic attack if you can’t control your emotions?
There may be many other queries that you need to clear from your doctor which directly relate to your mental health condition. It is suggested not to hesitate from asking anything from your doctor.
Expectations from a doctor
To monitor and examine your mental health, your doctor would also ask a series of questions to help you better. Be prepared to respond honestly because your treatment would rely on your responses.
These questions include (but are not limited to):
- When did you start pulling your hair for the first time?
- What times and situations are there that trigger you to pull your hair?
- Have you tried stopping yourself from pulling your hair? If yes, what happens then?
- Do you pull your hair just from your head or from any other part of your body?
- Do you also bite or chew your hair and then swallow them?
- Does pulling hair habits affect your work or social life?
Bring in solid responses that would work for you and your treatment. Oftentimes it gets hard for people to open up about the personal issues that they may have with their family. But for the sake of treatment, being honest is the key to having recovered completely.