How to explain to my GP

I am going to my GP next week to discuss my anxiety and depression. I have been pulling my hair for approximately 10 months now, it started just picking the sides out from hair band till now, when I don't even realise I'm doing it. I have very thick hair and it's always been the thing I'm complimented on but it's now full off broken ends, snapped near the root and thinning from pulling out from hairband. I feel really nervous about telling my doctor, if she'll think I'm making it up. Can anyone help?


  • Hi Theresa, I have been pulling my hair for 15 years. I developed at a very young age, at the age of 6 I’m now 20 years old. There is no right or wrong way to tell your doctor, obviously when I was younger my parents would accompany me and they would do all the talking. I wasn’t really sure why I did it my self so I used to sit in the room not paying attention. How ever the last few times I’ve been to the doctors, I think it’s only been 3 times in the last 5 years. There’s no easy way of doing it, I’d be absolutely fine until I got in the consultation room and they said ‘what seems to be the problem’ if just break down crying every time. There is no cure for Trichotillomania how ever the doctors are more clued on to it now then they have ever been, since it has been classed as a mental health disorder. The first time I went alone at 13 they offered me counselling, the second time I went at 16 they offered me anti depressants, the last time I went last year when I was 19 I just broke down crying. I said to them - I know there is absolutely nothing you can do apart from ply me with medication so I have no idea why I’m here. I’m so sorry for wasting your time I just wish there was something someone could do, even though I know there isn’t. It emotionally draining and there’s that fear of specialists not believing you, when I was younger they thought it was for attention. But honestly, it’s dealt with a lot more seriously then it used to be so don’t be scared of seeing your GP. There’s not much they can do other then offer you anti depressant and anxiety pills and mental health counselling to find the route problem but you’ll soon find that there never really is a specific route problem you pull your hair for all different sorts of reasons! I would say accept what they give you see how you feel. The counselling for me I did twice, obviously nothing has worked but it’s nice to feel like you’re trying and other people understand you. You feel a bit of importance and comfort that a professional is listening to you. Also it’s interesting for the counsellor as well as they can learn from you and everyone’s individual experiences with Trichotillomania as it’s not very common. As for the pills, it’s a hit and miss. They effect everyone differently, I’ve been on and off with them for years. I hope this helps and don’t ever feel ashamed of talking to your GP! Like I said I’ve been so many times and sometimes I don’t even know why because I know there’s nothing they can do but sometimes it’s just comfort you need. Best of luck xxx
  • Thank you so much for responding Courtblades. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to be dealing with Trich all that time and still no answers as to why. I'm already on 200mg sertraline for severe anxiety and depression and I hate "bothering" the doctor and worry she'll think I'm a hypochondriac but I really want to try and stop this before it gets any worse. Sometimes it feels like a comforting thing, although most of the time I'm not aware I'm doing it, and other times i feel my scalp is stinging from pulling so much, like its more self harm. It has me really confused as to why I'm doing it. I've tried hairband, plasters on fingers, tying hair really tight, a stress ball, taping fingers together but I just end up finding a way to do it... Most of the time not even realising. I hope she is aware of it and helps somehow. Thanks again x
  • Hi Theresa, Courtblades is spot on. There's only so much a GP can do for someone with trich, but those things can work really well for some people so it's definitely worth going along and asking. CBT can be effective for some.

    A combination approach of CBT and habit reversal therapy has been shown to have the best outcome but is generally still only available if you go private. There's a way to go yet with knowledge and treatment availability on the NHS, but it is getting there, slowly.

    There's some info on treatment options here below. Work your way through the menu at the top of the text (CBT, medication, diet, etc):

  • Thanks Michelle, I've seen my doctor and she was great. She knew about Trich and said she had other female patients with it. She's referred me to a psychiatrist/psychologist (can't remember which one) and she's reviewing my medication too. I've to see her in 3 weeks to discuss further. I'm so glad I forced myself to go. Thanks again xx
  • Hi Theresa, oh that's great. I'm so glad your doctor has been so supportive. Let us know how you get on :)

  • Hi Theresa

    You've really inspired me. and given me the push to go to my GP.

    I've been too afraid and pushing it off for the last two years.

    But now after seeing your posts, have decided to get on with it!
    Waiting for them to get back to me about an appointment...
    But I give myself a :+1: for actually trying the surgery!

    thanks for helping me see how easy it can be!

    Hope that actually going isn't too painful.

    Best wishes!
    Enjoy your weekend!

    <3 Joy!

  • Hey Everyone

    Well done Joy for making contact with the surgery, that’s amazing, well done you!!
    When I went to my GP, she too had heard of trich. For me, the treatment program given was CBT, & that didn’t work. I Don’t think it helped that the counsellor had never heard of Trichotillomania.

    I hope it helps you both, & like Michelle said, keep us posted.

    Take care,
    Lisa x
  • Great work Joy. How are you both getting on?

  • JoyJoy
    edited February 3

    Hi all,

    It's been a looooong time since this thread had been active and I've never reported back.

    When I went to the GP two years ago I met a kind doctor that had seen trich before. She'd sent me on to the practice counselor who then referred me on for CBT, it was a bit like jumping around and the referral took months to go through. It was drawn out and hard. Neither did the CBT help me too much.

    In that time I had a major incident and I began private psychotherapy. It worked at first but then I didn't feel I was making progress after a year and stopped. I began coaching and could not have been more grateful!!! It's such a great program, goal orientated and so caring!! I'm doing so much better now and have even been PF!!

    But I was still struggling with difficult thoughts so much of the time.

    My coach suggested I get antidepressants and I couldn't think of it at first. I spoke to my GP again and discussed it with a very kind doctor, but still wasn't ready to resort to meds. After trying to do the hard work myself I finally realized I can't lose by trying the meds.

    It's only been a week now and it's early days, but I'm feeling much clearer and lighter. The goofy side to me has resurfaced and I've been able to laugh again!! Life is looking up and I'm so proud of myself for taking this big big step!! Thanks to my buddy's and @Neo's valuable support I have been keeping so well.

    For those of you out there too afraid to face your trich, sadness, etc, don't be afraid to face your doctor! They really can be so helpful, understanding, and supportive. You CAN live a better life - allow yourself to!

    Sending you all much love and strength!!
    You can do this, xxxxx


  • Wonderful update Joy, thank you <3

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