I have been reading a lot of blog posts from people that suffer with trich and although the exact reasons and situations in which they find themselves pulling are very different, many of them find that they pull more (or begin pulling again) after acute periods of stress. We’ve discussed this topic a couple times on this site (search for “Stress” for more information), but it’s worth repeating that stress can increase the urge to pull because it can create neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain.
Recall, neurotransmitters (such as serotonin and dopamine) are chemical messengers that control most of the body’s functions – everything from mood and the urge to pull to cravings and sleep. Stress can create both short and long-term imbalances in neurotransmitter levels, which can cause you to want to pull more.
Stress is a ‘loaded’ reaction
Stress affects everyone differently and can affect each individual differently on any given day. This is because the overall effect of stress is what is often called a ‘load reaction’. This simply means it is the combined effects of all the stressors in your life at any given moment that will determine the overall ‘load’ or impact that stress has on you at that time. This is the reason, for instance, that sometimes a certain stressor, like arguing with someone, affects you very little one day, but throws you into a state of utter turmoil on another day.
Many things can cause us stress, including:
|Lack of sleep||High-sugar foods/sweets||High-fat foods|
|Artificial sweeteners||Job stress||Kids yelling|
|Excess exercise||Time stress/deadlines||Disagreements with others|
|Weather changes||World events||Feeling out of control|
|Birthdays/holidays||Death of friend/family||Pollution|
It can be a fragile balance that keeps us functional when stresses mount. If the stressors overwhelm us, even for a period of time, many hormone and neurotransmitter imbalances can occur, which can increase the urge to pull. Under ideal circumstances (stress gets under control and neurotransmitter levels can rebalance), this increased urge will typically last 3-5 days. If the stress continues or your neurotransmitter levels do not rebalance, the increased urge can last a much longer time.
Addressing the causes
We know of two sure-fire ways to help restore proper neurotransmitter levels which will reduce or eliminate the urge to pull: (1) reduce the cause of imbalance and (2) replenish neurotransmitter function with amino acid therapy. The first has to do with reducing the effects of stress in your life. This may include exercise, establishing a regular sleep cycle, meditation, counseling or any number of other longer-term therapies to help mitigate the ongoing effects of stress.
The second acts more quickly, as providing the body the nutrients it needs to rebalance neurotransmitter function can lead to a dramatic decrease or elimination of the urge to pull, often within days or weeks. This allows you to incorporate the longer term stress reduction strategies into your life so you can have a life that is free of the urge to pull, no matter what stresses life throws at you.