A French doctor coined the term trichotillomania in 1889 to describe a psychological disorder in which an individual compulsively pulls out his or her own hair. The disease is treated using a combination of cognitive behavioral strategies, such as habit reversal and stimulus control. Consider these five tips for overcoming the urges associated with trichotillomania.
- Try to keep a journal of your hair-pulling episodes. Record your feelings, thoughts, environmental conditions, and situations leading up to the event. Identifying the triggers that create an onset of the behavior can help you find positive ways of coping with the disorder and learn steps that will help you avoid factors that trigger an episode.
- Try relaxation techniques to reduce the stress you feel when the urge to pull your hair occurs. Focus on your breathing or consider yoga. These kinds of competing responses make it difficult to pull your hair.
- When the urge to pull your hair is occurs, engage in an alternative activity that preferably requires both hands, such as typing a letter, playing a video game, or cleaning. You can also manipulate a stress ball or other malleable object. This activity acts as a distraction until the urge has passed. It also helps to retrain your brain with a new habit.
- Establish a reward system. Create a chart and track the number of days that you have passed without pulling hair. Place the chart in a conspicuous location where you normally pull your hair the most. Start with small goals and increase the time as you progress. Reward yourself as you increase your ability to avoid pulling your hair.
- Maintain a positive attitude. Do not beat yourself up over a setback. Encourage friends and family to help you realize when you are subconsciously pulling hair. Learn to appreciate and take care of your hair.