Trichotillomania, aka “trich”, is a disorder that causes people to literally pull out their hair. Some people pull out their eyelashes or eyebrows; others pull from their scalp, arms, or legs. Although few people have heard of it, trich is thought to affect anywhere from 2 to 4 percent of the population, roughly 6 to 12 million people. Anecdotal evidence indicates that it’s more common in women than men.
Although trich is often defined as an impulse or obsessive control disorder, there’s debate about how it should be classified. Trich is believed to be a neuro-biological disorder, it really belongs to a group of disorders referred to as body-focused repetitive behaviors, which have similarities to each other, like chronic skin picking and nail biting.
Researchers believe that trich is genetic in origins. At the end of the day, trich is really a coping mechanism. Everybody has a version, although maybe not to this extreme where it’s physically damaging. Although trich can strike someone as young as 13 months, the most common age of onset is in adolescence.
There is no cure for trichotillomania, but experts are exploring new treatments. A B vitamin supplement called Inositol has helped patients curb their urge to pull. Another supplement is also providing effective. There was a large study on an amino acid called N-Aceytl Cysteine, also known as NAC. The results were much more promising than any study done with antidepressants. Antidepressants are widely prescribed for trich, but they have not been helpful for most people. No medication has been found to be effective for everyone. The best course of action seems to combine a supplement with a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy. You have to take a close look at each person, there’s not “one size fits all” solution.