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Anxiety and Stress Disorders (Children)

Symptoms of Trichotillomania

11/14/2005

Question:

My son has recently pulled out many of his eyelashes. He has become aware of it and stopped (from what we can tell). He has started to see the councelor at his school (he is in fourth grade -10 yrs old.) She believes he is suffering from anxiety. He gets sressed very easily and has drastic mood swings. Most every night he talks constantly as he tosses and turns in his sleep. As a result, he has trouble getting up in the morning. I am wondering is there a way to help him get a better night sleep(avioding drugs), and if there the pulling out of the eyelashes could be more than anxiety?

Answer:

Your son may suffer from Trichotillomania which is a very treatable condition but it's causes are more complex than just "anxiety." Counseling in a generic sense is ineffective. Sleep may or may not be related to this condition. To improve sleep make sure that a uniform bedtime is kept, that distractors are not in the bedroom (tv, gameboy), and other good sleep hygiene measures are followed.  I recommend that you talk to your child's primary care physician to get specific recommendations both for treatment of trichotillomania and sound sleep hygiene measures. 

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Response by:

Floyd R Sallee, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati