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I can't stop pulling out my hair

I have trichotillomania, a hair-pulling disorder. I want to stop, but it’s really hard and I need help. Sometimes, I pull my hair so much I have to hide it with a headband or a bandana. Please help me!

Trichotillomania is a manifestation of obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is why you’re finding it so hard to stop. It’s like any bad habit—biting your nails, chewing on your lips, twirling your hair—but it’s often driven by a need for stress relief or control over a situation.

To stop takes willpower. When you catch yourself pulling your hair, reprimand yourself and drag your hands away from your head. Enlist friends and family members to help you correct your behavior. Agreeing on a subtle sign, like a pointed look, a private joke codeword or a nudge can keep things discreet.

Try to keep your hands busy, whether you’re doodling in a notebook, folding paper or picking off your nail polish. Take note of when you typically pull your hair. Are you bored? Then find something to do. Are you stressed out over homework? Then find another means of safely relieving your stress, like writing in a journal or listening to music. Are you worried about your dad’s job? Then try to pump your body full of mood-boosting endorphins by exercising.

It might be helpful for you to start seeing a therapist or a counselor. I know it sounds daunting, but having someone impartial to talk to who won’t blab to anyone else can really help you work through difficult situations or simply take your mind off of whatever it is that’s getting you down.

Good luck, sweetie!

BY BRITTANY TAYLOR ON 5/12/2011 7:00:00 AM


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