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  • 1 Psychology Department, The Ohio State University, 181 Psychology Building, 1835 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH, 43210, USA
  • | 2 Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
Open access

Abstract

Background and aims

Trichotillomania (TTM) often first presents in adolescence, a developmental period marked by vulnerability in body image. To date, no one has studied the relationship between this disorder and body esteem.

Methods

49 adolescents with DSM-IV TTM or chronic hair pulling (HP) and 23 control adolescents were administered diagnostic assessments and self-report measures of hair pulling and body esteem.

Results

HP youth vs. controls reported lower levels of body esteem on all Body-Esteem Scale for Adolescents and Adults (BESAA) subscales (appearance, attribution and weight satisfaction). HP contributed to lowered body esteem, independent of comorbid anxiety or depression. As expected, HP youth with vs. without comorbid anxiety or depression reported lowered levels of body esteem. Further, greater HP severity and distress were significantly associated with lower levels of body esteem. HP severity alone but not distress/impairment predicted lower levels of body esteem, independent of comorbid anxiety and depression.

Conclusions

Both hair pulling and comorbid anxiety and depression can independently impact body esteem in adolescent hair pullers.

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