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Re: Why do I pull my hair out?

Posted by Toby on November 30, 1998, at 9:37:34

In reply to Help! Why do I pull my hair out? Dr. Bob or Toby?, posted by anniecatz on November 26, 1998, at 10:50:09

The name for what you describe is trichotillomania. It is classified in the DSM-IV as an Impulse-Control Disorder. It involves repeatedly pulling out one's own hair resulting in noticeable hair loss, an period of high tension immediately before pulling out the hair or when attempting to resist the behavior, a sense of pleasure or relief when pulling out the hair and finally, the hair pulling results in significant distress or disturbs the person's ability to function in several areas like socially or in work.

It is on a continuum with other illneses like OCD on one end (cumpulsively pulling out the hair) and explosive temper on the other end (the person doesn't want to pull out the hair but the tension is too great to resist). It doesn't mean you're crazy, it's something you are aware of and don't like and try to resist and can't because of a chemical mixup. It responds to antidepressants and sometimes to antipsychotics, so researchers think that serotonin and dopamine have a lot to do with it. If it has responded well to your antidepressant, stick with it; the hair pulling often comes back after the medication is stopped. Tell your doctor about it; the hair pulling is not uncommon and it may help to serve as a guage to stress and how well your antidepressant is working.




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