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Trichotillomania is a rare psychological disorder where the person finds pulling out their own body hair irresistible. They often pull hair on their head or faces leaving bald patches. Females are more prone and the condition is estimated to affect 1.5 to 3.5% of people during their lifetime. The condition may be short lived or continue during a lifetime. The disorder is greatly unrecognized and little is known about the condition. Hair pullers tend to pull hair when stressed or bored. Often they gain intense pleasure from the act and about 25% of sufferers have oral input into the episode - eg rub the hair on their lips or chew on it. Sufferers find it extremely addictive and difficult to stop. The condition most often occurs around puberty and can cause the person to become depressed and anxious. The condition is grouped with other impulse-control disorders such as kleptomania, pyromania and pathological gambling but experts believe it is more closely associated with anxiety disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Others believe it is akin to a tic such as Tourette's syndrome. Yet others think that it should belong to a new category labeled body-focused repetitive disorder along with compulsive nail biting and extreme skin picking. There is no cure and treatment involves antidepressants to treat associated anxiety or depression and cognitive-behavioral therapy (involves a focus on changing habits). Some people become totally bald and are completely unable to stop their urges even with therapy.
Source: summary of medical news story as reported by Seattle Times
About: Trichotillomania is a rare compulsive hair pulling disorder
Date: 16 December 2004
Source: Seattle Times
Author: Julia Sommerfeld
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