What are trichotillomania causes and symptoms? Trichotillomania is classified as an impulse control disorder that is characterized by an uncontrollable urge to pull out hair. In severe cases, a person with trichotillomania will suffer significant hair loss, but although the patient is fully aware of the damage they are causing to themselves, they are unable to stop the habit.
Trichotillomania causes and symptoms
The trichotillomania causes are not fully understood, but researchers believe that those suffering from impulse control disorders, including trichotillomania, have an imbalance in their brain chemistry. This imbalance is specifically centered in the neurotransmitters that act as messengers between nerve cells in the brain, and when things go awry, the affected person can start to act in an impulsive or self-destructive manner.
However, the cause of trichotillomania is far more complicated than a chemical imbalance in the brain and although this might be the root of the problem, other factors are at play. Further research into the condition has indicated that certain environmental conditions can trigger trichotillomania. Stress is a common cause of trichotillomania, but being diagnosed with other anxiety disorders such as depression can also be a risk factor. There is also known to be a genetic link in cases of trichotillomania and having a relative with the disorder means your risk of developing trichotillomania is slightly higher than that of the general population.
How to Recognize Trichotillomania?
A person with trichotillomania is controlled by the impulse to pull out hair. This is very often the hair on the person’s head, but it can also affect hair on the body, including eyelashes, eyebrows, pubic hair, and underarm hair. Basically, any area on the body where hair grows is vulnerable to the hair-pulling urge of a person is afflicted with trichotillomania.
When the disorder is severe, strange patterns of hair loss are the most obvious symptom of trichotillomania. Unlike normal patterns of baldness, hair loss as a result of trichotillomania will cause bald patches on the side or front of the scalp, and in order to hide the hair loss, a person with trichotillomania will go to great lengths to cover up their bald patches.
As well as the physical symptoms, the patient is likely to show psychological symptoms of trichotillomania. Since trichotillomania is very often triggered by stress and anxiety, these symptoms will worsen and the patient may become depressed, suffer from low self-esteem, and withdraw from friends and family. Patients suffering from trichotillomania often have mental disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, and personality disorders: trichotillomania can be linked to the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
In some cases of trichotillomania, the patient chews and swallows the hair they pull out, which can lead to further problems. The practice of eating hair is referred to as trichophagia, and as often occurs with cats, ingesting large amounts of hair causes hairballs (trichobezoars) to form in the stomach and digestive system. This will lead to sickness and vomiting, digestive problems, and if left untreated, bleeding inside the stomach.