The characterization and treatment of trichotillomania

J Clin Psychiatry. 1996;57 Suppl 8:42-7; discussion 48-9.


Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder characterized by chronic self-directed hair pulling. Trichotillomania has additionally been viewed as one of the obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders. Any body hair may be targeted, and most patients pull from more than one site. In clinical settings the disorder predominantly affects females. Onset is generally in childhood or adolescence, and a chronic course is typical. Depression and anxiety frequently accompany the disorder. An increased incidence of comorbid obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has been noted. Neurobiological investigations have paralleled etiologic studies of OCD and have demonstrated both similarities and differences between these two disorders. Current treatment options include a variety of medications, particularly the serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors, the behavioral technique of habit reversal, and hypnosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age of Onset
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Child
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Sex Factors
  • Trichotillomania / diagnosis*
  • Trichotillomania / epidemiology
  • Trichotillomania / therapy*


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors