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Why Medication Is Not The Answer For Most Hair Pulling Children


by Abby Leora Rohrer

Using medication is a controversial topic and only a parent can decide if this is the right approach for their child.  Parents often feel pressured by family members, school or medical authorities to medicate.  I understand that it can be very difficult to know when, or if, medication is right for your child.  Here’s my perspective:

I was raised with a mom who was on antidepressants throughout my childhood and our entire relationship.  Because of this, I am biased against using psychiatric medication unless absolutely necessary.  I never saw my mom improve by being on medication.  She simply was not present to life. 

Today’s antidepressants are not the type that my mother was prescribed.  As I recall, she took Elavil, and, only occasionally, Prozac and Stelazine.  Lithium for bi-polar disorder symptoms and some type of sleeping pill were also on her list of medications.  Though not all her prescriptions were like those of today, current SSRI antidepressants come with their own laundry list of side-effects and risks.  It is essential that parents research and stay informed, as you are ultimately responsible for the impact they have on your child if you choose a solution involving medication.

“. . . medication alone is never a sufficient treatment for a behavioral problem in a child, who should be learning how to cope with whatever problem she has.”

 
--Elaine Aron, Ph.D.

“The first time she (our adopted daughter) began the hair pulling was when she failed 4th grade. She takes four different medications.  She is under the care of a psychiatrist and goes to a social worker.  Recently we had to cut back on the social worker services due to finances. Our medical bills are outrageous!” 
--Lisa, mom of child hair puller

 “I thought that my 5 yr old son had stopped pulling, however he started up again two weeks ago.  It's his eyelashes that he was pulling out and now he has NONE!  I've been through a few therapists and none are working.  He is now on three medications.”
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-Brenda, mom of child hair puller

 “My daughter was on Concerta for two years when she started pulling her hair.”  
--Susan, mom of child hair puller

 “My 10 year old daughter is ADHD and on Concerta.  Just last summer she got a mess of mosquito bites and still to this day her arms remain badly scarred.  She won’t stop picking at them and just in the past few months she has pulled all of her eye lashes out.  Her doctor believes it might be Trichotillomania.  I have done everything I can I think to try to help her, from gifts to punishing.  She just started going to counseling.  Anything you can do to help me would be appreciated.”   
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-Sandra, mom of child hair puller

 “When she was on fluvoxamine she was pulling all of the time.”
--Martha, mom of child hair puller

 “Unfortunately, not many psychiatrists or psychologists in Alabama have much experience in treating something like this and I feel like we are the ‘guinea pigs.’  The quickest response we get is to put us on antidepressants, which I haven't allowed as of yet.  Eight years old is WAY too young to put a perfectly happy and healthy child on medication that they don't even know if it would help.” 
--Pat, mom of child hair puller

 “I have been pulling my eyelashes since I was 14.  I am now 36.  Through medication called Anafranil, I stopped for a year.  The side-effects from the medication were horrendous so I stopped taking it.  Of course within 2 months I was back to my nasty little habit.”
--Helen, adult hair puller

Unless your child has other issues requiring medication, please do not place her on drugs for hair pulling.  Studies repeatedly indicate that medication has no measurable success rate in treating trichotillomania.  The side effects can be severe and no one knows the long-term effects of placing a child's still-developing brain under the influence of psychiatric drugs.  Be wary of any authority who tells you that medication is necessary to treat hair pulling.  Many, but not all, doctors and psychiatrists are now becoming more cautious about prescribing medication for children dealing with psychological difficulties, with good reason, in my opinion.

Psychiatric medications should be used sparingly because they may not always be a positive thing for our kids.  Unless your child has other issues requiring medication, please do not unnecessarily place her on drugs for hair pulling. 

Caution is also advised because there appears to be a strong connection between the number of mass murder-suicides, especially in young male perpetrators, and medication with antidepressant SSRI’s and other psychiatric drugs.  This is not just the case in the recent Virginia Tech killings and those at Columbine High School, but there is a long list of data available on the internet regarding this connection.

For more information on the legitimate concerns of psychiatric drug therapy on children, visit:
 
http://www.pharmacy-technician.net/antidepressants
http://www.adhdhelp.org/DoctorsDilemma.htm, http://www.caer.com/UnpublishedData.htm and http://www.adhdtreatment.org/MedicatingYoungMinds.htm.
Antidepressant drugs may cause aggressive, violent behavior in youth- http://www.newstarget.com/020787.html and
www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2001/7/2/181622.shtml

Experts say antidepressant drugs cause suicides instead of preventing them- http://www.newstarget.com/019342.html

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16185848/

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