in today's society is a more harmful disorder
than many people realize. American society
is heavily appearance-based. For a woman
to be balding
can be a matter of great embarrassment; for men, hair loss is already a sensitive issue in many cases. Watch television
late one night and look at the Hair Club for Men
ads, or flip through a women's magazine
and count the advertisements for products concealing hair loss
. Now imagine that you're not only losing your hair, but you're causing the problem yourself.
Trich is a disorder only beginning to be studied in depth. CAT scans and other tests which require the patient to not move are difficult, since the brain activiy levels when the disorder is inactive (the person is not pulling) are no different from those of people not suffering from it. Innovations in medical technology are making the study of trichotillomania easier, however. Studies so far have shown that trich is actually more closely related to Tourette's Syndrome than the more commonly assumed OCD.
The SSRI family of antidepressents has been shown to help trichotillomania when prescribed at high doses, but is not a guaranteed cure. Anti-anxiety drugs are sometimes prescribed, since in some patients the symptoms of the disorder manifest more strongly when the patient is stressed. There is also a school of thought which suggests that since sufferers frequently admit to finding the sensation of hair pulling pleasurable, the disorder should be treated as if it were an addiction.
If you're looking for more information about Trichotillomania, current research, or just want to know how other sufferers are dealing with the disorder and their lives, you might want to look into the Trichotillomania Learning Center. Along with their activism programs, they also run a newsletter called In Touch, with information about the disorder, support groups in your area, and ways you and those close to you can help out.