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I don't know if its still considered self injury. Its just an addicting habit. I find myself constantly thinking about pulling, strand by strand.

Sometimes it takes my mind off of cutting, so I thought that maybe it was a good alternative.

The way I see it, it causes me less harm to pull hair than cut my arms.

Any advice or helpful information?
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First Helper User Profile HealthyLiving8
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replied October 15th, 2008
Community Volunteer
Trichotillomania (pronounced: trik-oh-till-oh-may-nee-ah) is a type of psychological condition that involves strong urges to pull hair.

Doctors used to believe trichotillomania was rare. But that thinking is now changing as experts gain a better understanding of the condition and more people come forward for help. Trichotillomania affects more girls than guys. Most people who have it develop it during adolescence. But trichotillomania can start when a person is as young as 1 year old.

What Happens With Trichotillomania?
People with trichotillomania pull hair out at the root from places like the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, or pubic area. Some people pull large handfuls of hair, which can leave bald patches on the scalp or eyebrows. Other people pull out their hair one strand at a time. Some inspect the strand after pulling it out, or play with the hair after it's been pulled. About half of people with the condition put the hair in their mouths after pulling it.

It might be hard to understand why someone would pull their own hair or eyelashes out — or why they wouldn't just stop. But trichotillomania isn't just an ordinary habit that a person can easily stop. It's a medical condition.

Trichotillomania is a type of compulsive behavior. This means that people with the condition feel an overwhelming urge to pull their hair. People with trichotillomania also may have other compulsive habits, such as nail biting or skin picking. Some people with trichotillomania also have problems like depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Compulsive behaviors like trichotillomania can sometimes run in families.

People with trichotillomania may feel embarrassment, frustration, shame, or depression about the condition. They may worry about what others will think or say. They may feel nagged by people who don't understand that they're not doing this on purpose. They usually try to hide the behavior from other people, and this can make it difficult to get help.

Having trichotillomania can affect how people feel about themselves. Some people are self-conscious about how hair pulling affects their appearance. Because of this, they might feel less confident about making friends or dating. Others might feel powerless to control the urge to pull or blame themselves for not being able to stop. Feelings like these can cause a person's self esteem to suffer.

Why Do People Feel Compelled to Pull Their Hair?
Doctors don't know for certain what causes trichotillomania. Some think it might be related to OCD since OCD and trichotillomania both involve compulsions. Since compulsions arise as an effort to reduce tension, the urges that lead to hair pulling can be stronger when a person is stressed out or worried.

Experts think that compulsive behaviors like hair pulling may be caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. These chemicals, called neurotransmitters (pronounced: nur-oh-tranz-mit-urs), are part of the brain's communication center. When something interferes with how neurotransmitters work, it can cause problems like compulsive behaviors.

Some people with trichotillomania say that they notice sensations in their scalp or skin. For example, it may be a tingling feeling that can only be relieved by pulling, like the feeling of relief that comes from scratching an itch. Some people say that they notice a satisfying feeling when they pull their hair. Others don't even notice when they pull, and do it without thinking.

Any relief that comes with hair pulling usually only lasts for a moment. The urge almost always returns. That's because when the mind becomes used to giving in to the powerful urges that go with compulsive behaviors, the behavior is reinforced The mind gets trapped in a cycle of expecting to have the urge satisfied. The longer this goes on, the harder it can become to resist the urge.

How Do People Overcome the Hair-Pulling Urge?
Because trichotillomania is a medical condition, it's not something most people can just stop doing when they feel like it. People with trichotillomania usually need help from medical experts before they can stop. With the right help, though, most overcome their hair-pulling urges. When someone is able to stop pulling, hair usually grows back.

Overcoming hair-pulling urges may involve talk therapy, medication, or a combination of both.

Therapists teach people with trichotillomania special behavior techniques that help them recognize the urge to pull hair before it becomes too strong to resist. The person learns ways to resist the urge so that it eventually grows weaker and then goes away. A therapist can also help a person regain confidence and self-esteem.

Because the urges behind compulsive habits like hair pulling are so strong, someone may feel more tension or anxiety when first trying to resist the urge. That's why it helps to work with an expert who can offer support and practical advice about how to reverse this powerful habit.

Some doctors may prescribe medications that can help the brain deal better with urges, making them easier to resist. Medication therapy can help to correct the imbalance of chemicals in the brain.

Many people find it helpful to keep their hands busy with a different activity (like squeezing a stress ball or drawing) during times when pulling is the worst. In the beginning, Daria found that knitting while watching TV helped keep her hands busy at a time when she might feel the urge to pull her hair.

Homework time was harder, though. Daria worked with her therapist to realize that she tended to pull more during homework because she was worrying about doing well on a project or test. Daria and her therapist talked about ways to deal homework stress. Daria discovered that being a perfectionist was adding to her tension. When she began to feel more relaxed — and still do excellent work — her confidence blossomed.

If you're worried about hair pulling, talk to a parent, school counselor, or someone you trust about getting help overcoming the problem.

http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/menta l_health/trichotillomania.html
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replied April 7th, 2009
Experienced User
I used to do pull my hair out.
I have OCD. I really didn't know I was doing it. Looking back, I was tugging on it all the time. For me, it was an OCD thing. I totally stopped it altogether. I may have tried at first. I think really it went away on it's own for me. I'm in therapy, so that helps.
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replied April 29th, 2009
just noticed...
Ive just noticed that I do this... I dont even know how long Ive been doing it. I dont really think about it. I will stop when I realise Im doing it. I dont want to go bald! and my hair comes out enough on its own anyway! I wasnt actually looking for anything to do with this, I scratch (sometimes cut) so I was looking for tips on quitting. So is it just another way im SH? sucky... I bet it started when I tried to quit aswell....
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replied April 28th, 2011
i myself do the same thing. last week i cut my wrist, after about a year of promising myself to stop and being "sober" i guess you could say. ive always pulled my hair out all the way to the root, when i was in middle school i even had done so much at a time that i had a small bald spot forming. luckily it grew back. i had to stop doing that because i got in trouble so i moved to cutting as an outlet. i hate the scars but sometimes the feeling is so overwhelming it feels as if i dont do it im gunna suffocate. i moved to pulling hair out again where it starts growing just this time not on my head if you know what i mean... its embarrassing so its hard to talk about. i struggle to stop. i could sit for hours getting everything 1 by 1 till there was nothing anymore to pluck. what do you do when there is nothing left? cleaning the pores and biting my nails past the skin line which hurts awful... the only way to stop was finding a good friend you can talk to about anything. it's difficult to do but it really helped n i had stopped. you gotta keep doing it though cause when you stop the urge comes back. im still fighting it all. id love to be here to talk to you about it and if you needed somebody to talk too.
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