The Child and Adolescent Trichotillomania Impact Project: Descriptive Psychopathology, Comorbidity, Functional Impairment, and Treatment Utilization

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Abstract

Objective:

Trichotillomania (TTM) is associated with significant morbidity, comorbidity, and functional impairment in adults. Despite the fact that TTM is typically a pediatric onset disorder, important questions remain about its phenomenology, comorbid symptoms, functional impact, and treatment utilization in youth. The current study was designed to provide an initial description of these factors using a convenience sample.

Method:

An internet-based survey.

Results:

Surveys completed by 133 youth ages 10 to 17 were analyzed. Scalp hair was the most common pulling site, followed by eyelashes and eyebrows. The majority reported tension before pulling and gratification/relief immediately after pulling. Severity of anxiety and depressive symptoms were somewhat elevated, as measured by standard instruments, and correlated positively with the severity of TTM symptoms. Moderate impairment in social and academic functioning was reported. For those who had received treatment specifically for TTM, parent ratings indicated that few (17%) children and adolescents were either very much improved or much improved after intervention.

Conclusions:

This study represents the largest survey of youth with TTM conducted thus far, and thus provides the most comprehensive description of TTM in youth to date.

Limitations:

Data was obtained from an anonymous, Internet-based sample, and thus may not be generalizable to all youth with TTM.

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