Hair Loss

Trichotillomania and Stress — How They’re Connected

Trichotillomania, also known as “hair-pulling syndrome” or “pathological hair-pulling,” is an impulse control disorder with the irrepressible urge to pull out one’s hair from the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, and other parts of the body. Is trichotillomania related to stress? Can stress cause it? Keep reading to find out.

Symptoms of Trichotillomania

The most common signs and symptoms of trichotillomania include:

An overpowering urge to pull hair from the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, arms, legs, etc.

Tension before pulling hair or when trying to resist the urge.

Relief, satisfaction, or delight after pulling hair.

Distress and/or issues at home and work due to hair pulling.

Bald patches where the hair has been pulled.

Excessive eating, twirling, or chewing on the hair.

Trichotillomania and Stress

Although the exact cause of trichotillomania is unknown, it might relate to brain pathway changes linking the areas that control impulses to those that manage emotions, movements, and habits.

Stress is a significant risk factor for trichotillomania, and you might find that it’s triggered by family conflict, abuse, or the death of a friend or family member.

Many people with trichotillomania describe the buildup of tension and stress, with the only relief from pulling the hair. Even though you can tell when you’re dealing with stress, you might not recognize its impact on your mental and physical health. For example, if your stress is not dealt with properly, it can manifest in other harmful ways, like compulsive hair pulling.

How to Reduce Stress

Here are some simple ways to keep stress in check:

Get outside! — Fresh air does wonders for stress levels. A quick walk around the block or an afternoon meeting in the sun can take some of the burden off your shoulders.

Bring home a furry friend — Dogs and cats can be extremely helpful for our emotional health and stress levels. They can also ease loneliness, reduce depression, and encourage exercise and playfulness.

Break a sweat — Exercise is another natural stress reliever that you can do without extra equipment or too much of a time or money commitment. Aim for 30 minutes per day, even if it’s a walk to the park with your pet or a bike ride to your favorite bakery.

Talk to a health care provider — If your stress won’t go away and you can’t control your impulses to pull your hair, contact a health care provider; they can help you develop a plan to bust the stress and hair-pulling compulsions.

If you’re suffering from hair loss related to trichotillomania, know that help is available. Contact a Transitions Hair Loss Center today to learn more.

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You can follow a few hair hygiene tips to make your hair less likely to fall out: Avoid hairstyles that pull on the hair - Avoid high-heat hair styling tools - Don't chemically treat or bleach your hair - Use a shampoo that's mild and suited for your hair - Use a soft brush made from natural fibers - Try low-level light therapy.

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