Trichotillomania (TTM) is an impulse-control disorder where people feel compelled to pull their hair out.
It affects around 100 million people worldwide, and sufferers may pull hair from their heads or other places such as their eyelashes and eyebrows.
No Pulling Week is the annual event that aims to raise awareness of this condition and the help available for it. Although common – particularly in women – trichotillomania is largely under-diagnosed as many do not seek help.
Typically trichotillomania begins around the age of puberty and for many it becomes a means of coping with stress and anxiety – although the effects of the condition can often make these problems worse.
Hair expert Lucinda Ellery says: “[Trichotillomania] is a form of release and many people are not aware that they are engaging in the activity until it is too late.”
TTM tends to escalate quickly and many sufferers will develop bald patches. This can result in incredibly low levels of self-esteem and self-confidence.
Lucinda explains that this is particularly the case with female sufferers as hair-loss can be more difficult to come to terms with than it is for men.
“Hair is such a vital part of a woman’s life – whether we think ours is too long, too short, too curly or straight, there is generally something we want to change,” she says.
“So when something as noticeable and as much of a part of who we are as hair turns into something that causes you great stress, it’s understandable why women feel they need to hide this dark, debilitating and isolating secret.”
Although very few people seek help for TTM, there are treatments available that can significantly help to reduce symptoms.
Hypnotherapy in particular is considered highly effective for changing impulse behaviours and troublesome patterns of thinking that characterise trichotillomania.
While you are hypnotised, your hypnotist will implant suggestions into your mind that encourage you to change your hair pulling behaviour. In this altered state of consciousness we tend to be more accepting of suggested changes and thus have a good chance of adopting new, healthier behaviours.