Trichotillomania: Latest Medical Breakthroughs

Tuesday, 04 Jan 2011 11:21 AM

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Trichotillomania is a hair-pulling disorder, as a result of which the patient suffers from hair loss. People suffering from trichotillomania pull hair out from scalp, face, pubic region, nose, eye brows, eyelashes, and hair on any other parts of the body. Excessive hair pulling can result in bald patches and sometimes may even lead to bleeding. Some of the associated effects of trichotillomania are distress, hair loss, functional impairment, and social impairment.
 
This disorder may sometimes be ignored by considering it an addiction or a habit or, sometimes, even as a part of obsessive compulsive disorder.
 
The traditional treatment for trichotillomania hair pulling includes psychotherapy, habit reversal therapy, hypnosis (in some cases), counseling, and anti-anxiety and anti-depression medication.
 
Here are some of the latest medical breakthroughs in the treatment for trichotillomania:
 
1) The Archives of General Psychiatry offers breakthrough treatment for this hair-pulling disorder. The treatment employs an over-the-counter antioxidant called N-acetyl cysteine. This medication is available in the form of pills and was administered to fifty patients in a trial. The results of the trial revealed that more than half of the patients showed improvement of symptoms in twelve weeks. The medication is easily available in most drug stores and vitamin stores.

This antioxidant is found to reduce the release of a neurotransmitter called glutamate that is responsible for the repetitive action of hair pulling. This finding also opened up a new path to investigate the cause of trichotillomania, which is about studying the role of neurotransmitters.

2) The website http://www.trichotillomania-treatment.com claims to have come up with a method called the “linden method” to cure obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)-related conditions like trichotillomania. It is claimed that this method has a 97% success rate, that it cures trichotillomania, and that the results can be seen within just thirty days. Research conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has endorsed the linden method of treatment for trichotillomania. This method does not use drugs. The psychologists, counselors, and linden method specialists help in treating the hair pulling disorder.
 
3) The researchers at the Ansary Stem Cell Institute and the Department of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College have found that mice that were lacking a particular gene developed obsessive compulsive disorder. The researchers discovered that the missing gene was Slitrk5, which was linked to blood stem cells and vascular cells. The follow-up studies on mice in which this gene was disabled revealed that the mice exhibited obsessive compulsive disorder similar to some human beings. The study also showed that in these mice, the frontal lobe to striatum circuitry of the brain was altered like the ones observed in the case of OCD in humans.
 
These studies could suggest a path for treatment of several types of OCD, including trichotillomania.

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