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The relationship of psychological trauma with trichotillomania and skin picking

Authors Özten E, Hızlı Sayar G, Eryilmaz G, Kağan G, Işık S, Karamustafalıoğlu O

Received 19 December 2014

Accepted for publication 19 March 2015

Published 15 May 2015 Volume 2015:11 Pages 1203—1210


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

Eylem Özten,1 Gökben Hızlı Sayar,1 Gül Eryilmaz,1 Gaye Kağan,2 Sibel Işik,3 Oğuz Karamustafalioğlu4

1Neuropsychiatry Health, Practice, and Research Center, Üsküdar University, 2Istanbul Neuropsychiatry Hospital, Üsküdar University, 3Turkish Red Crescent Altintepe Medical Center, 4Department of Psychology, Faculty of Human and Social Sciences, Üsküdar University, Istanbul, Turkey

Objective: Interactions between psychological, biological and environmental factors are important in development of trichotillomania and skin picking. The aim of this study is to determine the relationship of traumatic life events, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and dissociation in patients with diagnoses of trichotillomania and skin picking disorder.
Methods: The study included patients who was diagnosed with trichotillomania (n=23) or skin picking disorder (n=44), and healthy controls (n=37). Beck Depression Inventory, Traumatic Stress Symptoms Scale and Dissociative Experiences Scale were administered. All groups checked a list of traumatic life events to determine the exposed traumatic events.
Results: There was no statistical significance between three groups in terms of Dissociative Experiences Scale scores (P=0.07). But Beck Depression Inventory and Traumatic Stress Symptoms Scale scores of trichotillomania and skin picking groups were significantly higher than the control group. Subjects with a diagnosis of trichotillomania and skin picking reported statistically significantly higher numbers of traumatic and negative events in childhood compared to healthy subjects.
Conclusion: We can conclude that trauma may play a role in development of both trichotillomania and skin picking. Increased duration of trichotillomania or skin picking was correlated with decreased presence of post-traumatic stress symptoms. The reason for the negatively correlation of severity of post-traumatic stress symptoms and self-harming behavior may be speculated as developing trichotillomania or skin picking symptoms helps the patient to cope with intrusive thoughts related to trauma. Future longitudinal research must focus on whether trauma and post-traumatic stress or trichotillomania and skin picking precede the development of mental disorder.

Keywords: psychological trauma, trichotillomania, skin picking

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