Are Trichotillomania and Fibromyalgia Related?


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There are a lot of things we don’t know about fibromyalgia. But it seems like people with fibromyalgia also seem to suffer from a huge variety of other conditions. These sorts of conditions range from physical things like chronic headaches to neurological issues like clinical depression. And if you spend some time in the fibromyalgia community, you will no doubt hear people who seem to identify patterns between other conditions, like trichotillomania and fibromyalgia even if science hasn’t necessarily caught up to establishing a link.

Hair pulling is, of course, a great example of this. You’ll frequently hear fibro sufferers talk about suffering from it, which suggests that this might be one of those conditions that are linked to fibromyalgia. And trichotillomania, the medical name for hair-pulling, is a serious problem for people who suffer from it. But what exactly is it? What’s the link, if any, with fibromyalgia? And what can you do about it?

What Is Trichotillomania?

Trichotillomania is a neurological disorder that comes with an uncontrollable compulsion to pull hair out. Often, this manifests as an urge to pull hair out of your scalp, but it can also include a desire to pull the hair from your eyelashes and eyebrows as well.

This can lead to embarrassing bald patches on the scalp or eyebrows that make social situations difficult for people who suffer from it. As a result, the condition can lead to other mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

Is It Related To Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia seems to contribute to a huge number of other conditions and often ones that you might not expect. And we really don’t know much about fibromyalgia. We don’t know what causes the condition. And we don’t fully understand how fibromyalgia leads to the symptoms that it does.

So, it’s hard to say why it is exactly that fibromyalgia seems to be related to conditions like hair pulling. It might have something to do with the interaction between nerves, which we know is affected by fibromyalgia. Or, the condition may not be the result of fibromyalgia directly, but rather the stress that living with fibromyalgia causes.

Stress exacerbates a number of different mental disorders, including hair pulling. And few conditions are as stressful as fibromyalgia. The chronic pain leaves you wondering if your life will every ever be normal again. And the fatigue and mental fog make handling daily obligations difficult.

So it’s easy to imagine that someone who is already disposed to developing a condition like this might find the stress of fibromyalgia triggers their symptoms and makes it harder to manage once they have it.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to treat the condition. Though it might take some time.

How Can You Manage hair pulling disorder?

There aren’t really any medication options for treating this condition. Finding relief therefore usually requires intensive therapy and counseling. Hair-pulling disorder is usually managed with basic behavioral reversal therapy. Basically, this consists of therapy designed to help you train your mind and body to resist the urge to pull out your hair.

Doctors first try to identify the source of the hair-pulling disorder to determine if it is a way to relieve stress or a side effect of anxiety or depression. Getting to the root of the issue can help you work through the internal motivations behind hair-pulling.

And behavioral reversal training helps to stop hair-pulling by teaching you how to identify situations where you are likely to start pulling your hair out and gradually trains you to resist that compulsion.

But ultimately, the key to treating it is to learn to accept yourself for you are. There’s no reason to feel guilty or embarrassed about suffering from the condition. And those feelings of guilt can lead to stress, which makes the condition worse. A therapist can help you get over these feelings and learn to accept yourself for who you are. This is called “acceptance therapy” and is an important part of treatment.

The best way to treat the condition may be a combination of all three kinds of therapy. But obviously, recovery takes time. And you won’t be able to resolve hair-pulling disorder overnight. Remember to cut yourself some slack and take it one day at a time. And with a bit of diligence and good mental health practices, you can overcome the condition.

So let us know, do you suffer from trichotillomania? Do you think it might be related to your fibromyalgia? How do you treat it? What works for you? What doesn’t? Tell us in the comments.