Does your hair grow back with trichotillomania? Hair loss is a very distressing condition, but if the hair loss is related to a mental health problem whereby the sufferer is compulsively pulling his or her own hair out, it can be even more distressing. For most people, the link between hair and self-esteem is very strong, particularly for women, and when a condition such as trichotillomania causes substantial and visible hair loss, the underlying emotional problems that caused the condition in the first place are likely to be compounded many times over.
What causes trichotillomania in the first place?
Trichotillomania is sometimes seen in victims of sexual and emotional abuse, and is usually linked to feelings of low self worth, anxiety, stress, depression, and a host of other emotional problems. It is a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder and many sufferers self-harm in other ways: people displaying the symptoms of trichotillomania can also have eating disorders, pick their skin, or cut themselves.
The disorder is fairly common amongst young adults and teenagers, although it is sometimes seen in much younger children, and is more prevalent amongst girls. The condition is characterized by a compulsive hair pulling habit. Many sufferers attack the hair on their head, but other hair on the body can also be targeted, including eyelashes, eyebrows, chest hair, and pubic hair.
Because of the nature of the disorder, hair loss can be hard to disguise and people with trichotillomania can go to great lengths to hide their problem. The person might begin wearing hats to hide the hair loss on the scalp, or style their hair in such a way as to cover up the bald patches. Many sufferers are so ashamed of their condition that they withdraw socially or miss school to avoid the stigma of being seen with bald patches. But this is of course a vicious cycle: the more the person feels shame at their hair loss, the more they compulsively pull it out.
Does your hair grow back with trichotillomania?
Over time, compulsive hair pulling can seriously affect growth patterns and there is a danger that hair will eventually stop growing back and the person will end up with long-term alopecia, but in most cases, once the disorder is being treated and the patient stops pulling out hair, it will grow back completely.
It is very important to remember that people with trichotillomania are not deliberately trying to hurt themselves; hair pulling is an overwhelming compulsion and they simply cannot stop the urge. In many cases, the behaviour is a subconscious one and the person pulls hair without being aware they are doing it. The compulsion can also occur during sleep and the person might wake up in the morning having spent hours pulling hair out while they were asleep.
Like other compulsive behavior disorders, trichotillomania can never be truly cured because there is always a danger that the urge to pull out hair will resurface under intense stress or other trigger conditions. But the problem can be brought under control with the right treatment and it is important that trichotillomania sufferers seek help in order to start on the road to recovery.