DEPRESSION, ANXIETY, AND FUNCTIONAL IMPAIRMENT IN CHILDREN WITH TRICHOTILLOMANIA


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Abstract

Background:Trichotillomania (TTM) remains understudied in children. Adult research suggests that TTM is accompanied by significant depression, anxiety, and functional impairment. The purpose of this study is to examine the occurrence of depression and anxiety in a relatively large sample of youth with TTM and the extent to which these symptoms mediate the relationship between TTM severity and associated impairment.Methods:The study utilized data from the Child and Adolescent Trichotillomania Impact Project (CA-TIP), an internet-based sample of 133 youth aged 10–17 (inclusive) with TTM.Results:Over 45% of children with TTM endorsed depressive symptoms and 40% endorsed anxiety symptoms in excess of one standard deviation (SD) above published community norms. More remarkably, 25% of our sample reported depressive and 20% reported anxiety symptoms in excess of 2 SD above these norms. Older participants reported more symptoms of depression and anxiety than younger ones; age of onset (children with later onset), but not duration of illness, was predictive of higher reports of both depressive and anxiety symptoms. Neither depressive nor anxiety symptoms were related to pulling site. Depressive symptoms partially mediated the relationship between TTM severity and functional impairment.Conclusions:Based on an internet sample recruited from the homepage of the Trichotillomania Learning Center, data from this study suggests that symptoms of depression and anxiety may be pervasive among youth with TTM and likely impact functional impairment. Longitudinal studies using directly assessed samples are needed to replicate and extend these findings.

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