Supporting a Loved One with Trichotillomania

Loved one with trichotillomania

Four Things You Need To Know

Whether it is your friend, daughter, sibling or partner, showing love and support to someone with Trichotillomania can be challenging; especially if you don’t actually understand what’s going on.  Sometimes when we think we’re being helpful, our advice only frustrates someone with Trich and makes us and them feel helpless.

Here is some guidance to help you better understand your loved one’s hair pulling disorder and how you can help them and encourage them in a positive way.

  1. It’s okay if you don’t understand, and definitely don’t pretend that you do. Listen, without making suggestions or offering advice. Instead, supply plenty of praise, hugs and above all, acceptance. Trichotillomania is more prevalent than you might think. Your loved one isn’t crazy for having this strange hair pulling disorder – they are one of many people who also suffer for Trich and even more who fall into the broader category of Obsessive Compulsive Disorders.
  2. If they could stop, they would. Many people with Trichotillomania can't stand the question, "Why don't you just stop?"  You need to understand that if they could – they would! It's not a choice, even if it appears to be. Asking this question may make your loved one feel as if there is something wrong with them, making them feel even more frustrated with the situation.
  3. Hair pulling will probably remain an issue for life. So it is really important that you come to terms with this. Even though some days it will be unnoticeable, other days it may be rampant without any warning.
  4. Don’t be the ‘Pulling Police’. Hair pulling often occurs subconsciously so while alerting your loved one every time they pull may seem like you’re helping, it will often do more harm than good and put strain on your relationship as they will associate you with those negative feelings of shame and guilt when they are ‘caught out’.

So what should you do when you're sitting down, perhaps watching television, and out of the corner of your eye you notice you loved one pulling?

Distraction can help; try handing them a cup of tea. Engaging the logical brain can often stop subconscious hair pulling. Invite them out for a walk. Getting out or even just moving from place to place, helps. Reading and watching TV are triggers for pulling. Play chess, computer games or anything which involves the hands. Cross stitching is helpful. Try to keep them active and interested. Boredom is really bad for Trich.

Do you want to help your loved one restore their hair? Going out in public with bald patches can often add to the embarrassment and low self-esteem that they may already be feeling. Why not bring them in for a free confidential consultation with one of our hair loss specialists to help them restore their hair and their confidence! We have consult rooms in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Call 1300 427 778 to book now.