Trichotillomania & Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors

Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is a body-focused repetitive behavior (BRFB) and is also known as “hair-pulling disorder.” It is defined as the repetitive pulling of one’s hair, and about 1-2 in 50 people have this disorder.

Below is the list of symptoms one must have to meet criteria for a Trichotillomania diagnosis according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Trichotillomania, along with other BFRBs, is listed as an “Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorder” in the DSM-5 and the diagnostic criteria are as follows:

  • Recurrent hair pulling, resulting in hair loss
  • Repeated attempts to decrease or stop the behavior
  • Clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning
  • Not due to substance abuse or a medical condition (e.g., dermatological condition)
  • Not better accounted for by another psychiatric disorder

Individuals with Trichotillomania report pulling hair from at least one area of their body and these areas can include: scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, facial hair, leg hair, arm hair, and pubic hair. Many people report feeling ashamed or embarrassed by this behavior, and it is important to remember that you are not alone.

If you feel like your Trichotillomania is keeping you from reaching your goals in at least one area of your life, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Treatment is proven to be very helpful and with the guidance of a specialist, you can learn to manage your pulling urges. In the meantime, check out our Trichotillomania resource list for more tools to help you get started.

What about other BFRBs?

As mentioned above there are other common BFRBs that people struggle with and that are defined in the DSM-5. Excoriation or Skin-Picking Disorder is a common repetitive behavior where individuals consistently touch, rub, scratch, pick or dig into their skin. This results in visible damage and in some cases severe tissue damage.

Nail-Biting Disorder, otherwise known as Onychophagia, is a BFRB where individuals bite their nails until there is resulting bleeding. Typically, people with this disorder bite past their nail bed and also chew on their nail cuticles. This can lead to severe infection and also dental concerns.

Other BFRBs include: nail picking, hair eating, skin eating, lip biting, cheek biting, tongue chewing and hair cutting. Please follow the link for more information about these other repetitive behaviors.

If you or a loved one struggles with any of the body focused repetitive behaviors listed above, please don’t hesitate to contact us. With some help and guidance, these behaviors can be much more manageable.