trich/anxiety hair removal problems

I want to pass on an experience I am going through to warn others if they have similar problems and are thinking of hair removal. Am male, hetrosexual, not that it matters I know it affects all types of people both sexes and sexualities, non discrimant.

When I say similar problems I am talking about an anxiety disorder which I have been dealing with for many years now. When I was about 17/18 I started pulling hair from all areas of my body including the hair on my head. It started out infrequently about once a week and then over the next couple of years progressed into many hours every day. All the while I was living my life and enjoying it and thinking that the hair pulling was just a cosmetic problem. So at the age of 24 decided to go get some laser sessions to remove some of the hair. I started this up and it continued for about two years. I didnt know the hair pulling was related to the anxiety problem and just thought the hair was the problem.

The pulling was usually started by thinking that there was more hair on one side than the other, I would just pull a few out on one side and then think now the other side has a few more and pull some out on the other side. This could continue for hours until all the hair was gone, even though I would think to myself that it looks good, dont pull any more I couldn’t stop. The problem progressed into many other forms such as scratching and picking the skin with some nasty implements causing injury, but hair pulling was the main time consumer. I now know that it is an anxiety disorder and the act of pulling is a coping mechanism for the anxiety which actually helps to relieve the anxiety. I have been told that a fairly high number of people have a similar problem so I thought I might warn about hair removal as the answer.

I started the laser treatments with a very positive attitude thinking it would solve the problem. It didnt, if anything it made it worse, my anxiety went through the roof and over the period of that two years I slowly started to stop my outdoor sporting activites and socialising, still thinking that when it is over I will be OK. It was a similar problem to the hair pulling where it felt like such a relief to get the laser removal and would feel good immediately after the appointment. But as you all know laser appointments are spaced out 6-8 weeks. I kept going back saying you missed this bit so that it is even on both sides. After the end of the two years I got to a point where there has been some premanent hair removal but I still strongly needed to pull hair and pick at the skin. I thought I had failed and would never get on with life and was seriously contemplating suicide. So I turned to regular electrolysis appointments to fix the problem.

I finally went and got some professional help and started to understand about this problem and have started to manage the problem in various ways. One of the ways ,the electrolysis appointments are continuing and they seem to help relieve some of the tension so I keep going and hope to cut down the time of appointments and space them out more to hopefully stop them alltogether. I go to electrolysis once a week and be done with it rather than do any of my own hair removal because I know how hard it is for me to be rational and resist the urge to pull out a lot of hair.

But really a lot of time has already been wasted and I know now that hair removal was not the only answer. I really wish that I had have got some help before I started all the hair removal. Then at least I could have been aware of the problem and could have been at least rational in my hair removal choices. I cant really say that all hair removal is bad because the electrolysis and laser has helped a bit, especially the electrolysis which seems give me some releif once a week and saves me a lot of time at home pulling hair, but awareness is the key.

Hi Hairy…

Problems with symetry of hair removal are not abnormal. We all like a balanced look to a haircut for example. I had not realised that this could lead to suicidal thoughts and the need for anti-anxiety medication however. All I could maybe suggest is that you continue your consultations with professional hair removal experts.

A good pyschiatrist can also allieve your anxiety and maybe remove the need for the highly addictive Xanax tablets. If anything you could discuss a good antidepressent tablet which is non addictive and often helpfull. Regular electrolosis sounds good and will eventually relieve all the hair problems if you stay with the program.

Plucking at you skin will not help hair removal and will most likely leave scars lasting for life. Try to stay with us on this forum and we will all help out I am sure as best we can.


Hi Hairy!

As Stuart mentioned, you’re definitely not alone and I hope that 2006 gets off to a good start for you! There are a lot of members on hairtell who’ve had similar experiences to you and I wish you all the best!

Have a look at the older thread entitled “Panic attacks and social phobias” which I recently revived and consider some of the thoughts mentioned.

Take care,


I just want to clarify a couple of things I am thankful for your replies but my anxiety is not necessarily related to having too much hair. As I said I can look at myself and be happy with the amount of hair, I dont want to be less hairy but could not stop pulling the hair out (including much of the hair on top of my head) along with other forms of self injury, but hair pulling the main thing. It is a condition called trichotillomania, you can find lots of information about it by doing a search.
The hair pulling and self injury is way of relieving anxiety that I may have about all sorts of things not neccessarily the look of hair. I am just trying to warn people if they have a similar condition that hair removal is not neccessarily the answer. I always thought it was a cosmetic problem and could be fixed by hair removal but that not is the case and it can almost make the problem worse. Trichotillomania is not just pulling out hair to look better is as it definitely doesnt make you look better, the person is unaware of how much they are pulling until they stop which can be for hours on end. About 1 in 10 people have an anxiety problem and do something similar and probably a lesser number actually pull hair to relieve anxiety so I thought that there must be a few people on this site that may have similar problems. Just wanted to warn those people that hair removal may not be the only answer.

Hi Hairy

You have made your point very cleary. We will all stay with you here on hair removal, but that is unfortunaly all we can help with. I have some medical training and know about Xanax - all I can advise is stay away from this - It has some benefits, but is otherwise very addictive. Ask your doctor for an alternative - he or she can help with a good antidepressant which often helps.

Just to be clear most members of this forum are here because we we want to remove hair from our bodies. This can apply to any area, often with men, to chest, armpits, arms and legs. I thank you for the warning about anxiety and will take it under consideration. I do believe I am a much more relaxed person after removing my leg hair and will keep with that.

Kind Regards