People affected by trichotillomania experience a strong urge to pull at their hair or eyelashes. The urge feels uncontrollable and usually gets worse at times of stress, tiredness, hunger or boredom. Hair pulling differs from self-harm because most of the time hair pulling doesn’t hurt, in fact it feels pleasurable. Pulling the hair feels good due to a release of dopamine in the brain.
Hair pulling is often a subconscious way to escape from feelings that are hard to process, like anxiety, avoidance, boredom or stress. It can create a kind of ‘zoned out’ feeling of comfort and relaxation. After pulling the blocked out feelings return accompanied by more bad feeling caused by the act of pulling. Pulling is usually followed by feelings of self-blame, disappointment and despair, far out-weighing the positive feeling from the initial hair-pull.
People often try to hide or disguise their pulling due to embarrassment and fear. You can help by offering understanding and encouragement.
Pulling often begins at a young age, by the time it is addressed it has often become strongly ingrained as a habit and is difficult to break away from. We have all heard how hard it can be to stop smoking; well the processes in the brain relating to breaking the two addictions are the same.
Why do I pull my hair out?
The simple answer is because you have a disorder. It is NOT your fault.
Trichotillomania affects about 1 in 30 people, so you are not alone.
The act of hair pulling is addictive and is a conditioned response that releases dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a ‘feel-good’ hormone associated with reward centres in the brain, so that’s why it feels good to pull. It might feel good at the time, but the negative impact of hair-pulling on our lives is huge. Pulling is usually immediately followed by self-blame, disappointment and despair, far out-weighing the good feeling.
The more we pull, the more we strengthen the pathways that cause the addiction. The good news is that we can re-condition our brains not to respond to pulling in that way, and the way we can do this is by not pulling.
The less you pull, the less you want to pull.
A cure for trichotillomania doesn’t have to be out of your reach. Support on this site is second to none. The people here are truly encouraging and rooting – not for that illusive right hair or lash, but for Growth. We know pulling can cease because we’ve stopped it ourselves, not for days but for YEARS, and so can you.
Our pledge is the provision of a safe zone where people can confide, create, recover and discover using interactive, cutting-edge technology, the power to challenge and change beliefs and behaviours that may have previously lead to hair or eyelash pulling.
There is always someone here who can help or just listen. Positivity is our priority and our emphasis is on GROWTH.