What is Trichotillomania? Information about Trichotillomania -- information about how the disorder is diagnosed and facts about who has it and how widespread the disorder is.
What is Trichotillomania?
Trichotillomania (TTM) is currently classified as an impulse control disorder in the 4th Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. However, it also shares features with obsessive-compulsive disorder and other obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders such as Tourette Syndrome, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and self-injurious skin picking.
The current diagnostic criteria include:
- Recurrent pulling of one's own hair resulting in noticeable hair loss
- An increasing sense of tension immediately before pulling out the hair or when attempting to not pull
- Pleasure, gratification, or relief while pulling hair
- The hair pulling is not better accounted for by another mental disorder or an underlying dermatologic condition.
- The disturbance causes significant distress or disturbance in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (APA, 1994).
The diagnostic criteria are currently under review in anticipation of DSM-V.
Of note, many people do not meet all of these criteria, but still pull their hair to a bothersome degree.
Demographics of Trichotillomania
- TTM is estimated to have a 1-3% prevalence in the general population
- Research and clinical experience indicate that trichotillomania affects more women than men. Studies estimate that over 90% of people with trichotillomania are female
- The female predominance could be overstated, however, since men are less likely to seek psychological treatment. Furthermore, men are more able to hide their baldness or to explain it as a natural part of aging
- The mean age of onset is in early adolescence (11-13 years of age) though children as young as 1 year of age with TTM have been reported in the literature