I read a post recently that related trich to an addiction.
In the article, ‘It’s Trichy’ thought about the similarities between trich and an addiction, such as alcoholism. There are many similarities, but the most pressing is the very real chemical imbalance that is often at the core of many obsessive-compulsive and/or addictive behaviors. What is known is that imbalances in brain chemistry can create a psychological (and many times physiological) need for or to do something. Most of the research in this area has looked at the ‘pleasure-centers’ of the brain and the chemicals that affect them, including dopamine, norepinephrine and glutamate, which are all neurotransmitters.
Interestingly, we have found that by achieving proper neurotransmitter balance, we can very often reduce or eliminate the ‘urge’, whether that is to pull in the case of trichotillomania or drink in the case of alcoholism (or any other substance in the case of other drugs of abuse). In many cases, once proper neurotransmitter balance is achieved, an immediate response is achieved, often described as a ‘light-switch’ going on. In these cases, there is an immediate and complete release from the compulsive or addictive behavior.
This makes sense if you think about this in terms of brain chemistry – if neurotransmitter imbalance is the cause of the compulsive or addictive behavior, once balance is achieved, the behavior should be dramatically impacted. Thankfully, it usually takes only weeks to months to optimize neurotransmitter levels and achieve this release from the urge, compulsion or addiction. Then, a person is in a much better position to institute behavioral therapies and support groups to help them beat the habits they have developed. Of note, once people achieve proper neurotransmitter balance, they are much better able to distinguish between the urge to pull and the habit of pulling, which goes a long way to determining what behavioral modifications can help break the habits involved.
Trichotillomania does share many common traits with addictive-type behavior, and thankfully, amino-acid therapy is often successful at addressing the underlying cause that is at the heart of these behaviors.