In the past year, I began pulling on/pulling out my eye brows. This only happens when I am in a stressful situation, like taking a test. Sometimes I don't even realize I'm doing it. I know it's called Trichotillomania.
I read somewhere that I should see a doctor but I don't think my Mom feels this is a big deal. She yells at me to stop pulling at my eyebrows when she sees me, but I really can't help it.
At one point, a part of my eyebrow was looking really bare, so I stopped and it eventually went back to normal. Now, I'm really stressing about finals and the pulling is starting again. Is there any way I can kick the habit for good? Nervous Natalie
Dear Nervous Natalie
Trichotillomania is a serious neurological disorder afflicting as many as 2% - 4% of the population (about 8 million Americans alone). Your eyebrows could just be the beginning of more self-masochism to come.
Get yourself to a therapist immediately. Tell your Mother how stress is affecting you and that you would like help so you can put a stop to your compulsive behavior.
Trichotillomania may be controlled with the right combination of treatment such as; psychotherapy, antidepressant drugs, behavioral therapy and/or hypnotherapy, however, there is no evidence of a cure.
Hypnosis has been known to help many sufferers. When your body goes into that deep relaxed state, it's more susceptible to retain the calming stimulation needed to help begin the healing process.
Sometimes it works right away and sometimes it may take a few sessions. You can learn more about hypnosis and/order an audio tape here.
Cognitive and behavioral therapy seem to be the most helpful treatment since medication alone will not be effective. It can help to replace undesirable behaviors with new behaviors and helps to identify the thoughts that make hair pulling more likely, by replacing them with new thoughts.
Combined with antidepressant medications such as: Paxil, Zoloft, Prozac, Effexor, Celexa, and in some cases lithium (but these are more of mood stabilizers) this type of treatment deems to be highly successful.
Anger and stress management, problem solving, and relaxation group therapy has also been proven to help. Also, finding support group in your area on the Internet is a good source for support. Try starting here for more info in your area at The Trichotillomania Learning Center, Inc.
People have fight and won their struggle with Trichotillomania with the right combination of treatments and support from those close to them. Good Luck.