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This section will teach you a little about each of the disorders that we diagnose and treat.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Panic Disorder With and Without Agoraphobia
- Specific Phobia
- Health Related Anxiety
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Trichotillomania and Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Trichotillomania and Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors
(Compulsive skin picking, nail biting, cheek biting, nose picking)
Trichotillomania, or compulsive non-cosmetic hair pulling, occurs in approximately 1.5% of males and 3.5% of females. Compulsive hair pulling results in noticeable hair loss, or bald patches. Hair can be pulled from any site on the body, with areas that are most easily reached being the most likely sites. Most people who begin hair pulling are in their early teens. Women and girls are the ones most likely to seek treatment for their hair pulling, perhaps because hair loss is viewed as being less cosmetically acceptable in females than in males. Those who suffer from hair pulling experience intense shame and distress. They may avoid activities that they fear will reveal their hair loss such as being outside on windy days, standing near people taller than themselves, dating, exercise classes, swimming or going to hairdressers. Those who suffer from trichotillomania often incorrectly fear that hair pulling must indicate that they are especially “sick” or “self-injurious” because they are unable to stop. Scientists and therapists who are familiar with hair pulling and skin picking know that these behaviors are a habit that is probably caused by a genetic predisposition that accidentally becomes self-reinforcing.
Other body focused repetitive behaviors such as compulsive skin picking, compulsive nail biting, cheek biting and nose picking are very similar to trichotillomania in their clinical presentation and their effect on the family and the sufferer’s self-image. They often co-occur with trichotillomania. These disorders are understood to be similar to trichotillomania and the same treatment approach that is used for trichotillomania is used for these disorders as well. Many scientists are now beginning to classify this group of disorders in a category of their own, body focused repetitive disorders.
Treatment of trichotillomania and other body focused repetitive behaviors involves detecting and defining the sufferer’s individual profile for pulling or picking. Since no two patients with these disorders are alike, a customized plan of behavioral and cognitive strategies must be developed for you. These strategies are applied to gradually help you or learn to dismantle the automatic chain of events that leads to pulling or picking and to replace it with more adaptive behaviors. Techniques such as awareness training, habit reversal training, stimulus control, exposure therapy, cognitive therapy and backward chaining may be used. The goal of treatment is to achieve either a substantial decrease in pulling, or abstinence from pulling, so that the hair puller no longer has to feel embarrassed about hair loss and concealment of hair loss.
Staff at AATC have specialized experience is helping you learn to overcome your body focused repetitive behaviors one step at a time. We will help you to identify and overcome your individual profile for pulling or picking. We want to help you stop the cycle of pulling or picking and to start feeling proud of the beautiful person you already are.