What is Trichotillomania? Q + A

Thanks to Olivia Munn's recent coming out as suffering from Trichotillomania, I'm inspired to write about the disorder which she and I, as well as 2-4% of people are affected by.

What is Trichotillomania?

Trichotillomania (also known as Trich or hair-pulling) is an impulse control disorder which causes the sufferer to pull out hair from her scalp, eye lashes or other parts of her body due to intense anxiety, stress or impulse. Trich is related to anxiety, mood and tic disorders as well as dermatillomania.

Who is affected by Trich?

2-4% of the population suffers from this disorder, although it is highly likely that that statistic should be higher, considering the stigma attached to mental illnesses causing sufferers to stay 'in the closet'. 90% of 'trichsters' are female.

What causes trich?

Like most mental illnesses, trichotillomania's prevalence is impacted by genetics and comorbid disorders, although scientists are unsure what other factors, if any, come into play.

It is not the suffers' fault!!! (extra emphasis highly necessary). It is not a choice, and is nothing to be ashamed of. Like diabetes, depression or an allergy, trich is a medical illness and deserves to be taken seriously.

What treatment options are available?

Unlike physical ailments, mental illnesses can be very difficult to treat. Fortunately, utilization of medication, cognitive behavioural therapy and support networks can make trich very manageable.

What did Olivia Munn say about her experience with trich?

Olivia shared, "I rip out my eyelashes..." She also divulged that she has a comorbid disorder: social anxiety disorder. "I don't think anyone would describe me as weak, but I don't want people to be mean to me... I moved around a lot when I was younger and no one was nice to the new kid. So there is always this feeling that someone will make fun of me". [Source]

What's your personal experience with trich?

I've pulled my hair for as long as I can remember. As a child suffering from Selective Mutism, I often twirled my hair in an effort to self-soothe, and when that didn't work I would resort to pulling out my hair.

Like most trich sufferers, I was completely unaware of what I was doing until I started therapy.

Even now, in my occasional bouts of hair-pulling, I am often unaware of what I am doing until I've started.

I'm happy to say that with a mixture of learning healthy self-soothing techniques and treating my comorbid disorders, my trich is largely nonexistant.

There is hope!

More information:

Request information about hair-pulling from Trichotillomania Learning Center
Follow Olivia Munn on twitterFollow me on twitter & ask me anything!

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