What is Trichotillomania?: Why it’s about more than just hair pulling

Trichotillomania

Watersedge has covered a vast spectrum of mental health disorders on our blog, but we have never discussed trichotillomania, the compulsive pulling of one’s hair. Licensed mental health counsellor and writer for Trichstop GinaMarie G. sheds some light on this epidemic for us where she looks at trichotillomania by numbers.

Trichotillomania is a mental health disorder in which a person suffers from the irresistible urge to pull out his or her own hair. It is a disorder that stems from difficulties regulating anxiety and impulse control. People with trichotillomania often struggle to feel as though they fit in with others, and feel self-conscious about the way people see them and their illness.

People with trichotillomania suffer from several symptoms that can be confusing and off-putting for a person who does not understand what it is like to suffer from trichotillomania. The symptoms of trichotillomania are more visually apparent than other mental health disorders, since the behaviour and consequences are difficult to hide.

Such symptoms and behaviours include:

  • Chewing on hair
  • Eating hair
  • Pulling hair out
  • Compulsively twirling hair
  • Missing clumps of hair from face, head, eyelashes or eyebrows
  • Having bald patches and sores on scalp and face

Each of these symptoms is difficult to hide or conceal, and can be considered unsightly and nonsensical to a person who suffers from trichotillomania. This causes a person who suffers from trichotillomania to feel isolated and alone. It is  lonely to feel so misunderstood and singled out, especially since the disorder seems so unusual. In fact, most people do not realise how prevalent trichotillomania actually is in the population. 

How Many People Suffer From Trichotillomania?

At this point in time, it is estimated that on average, .5 to 3 per cent of the population will suffer from trichotillomania at some point during their lifetime. This means they will experience trichotillomania symptoms that will have a significant impact on their quality of life for significant periods of time. Some cases will be chronic, meaning they are strong and withstanding, with a steady display of symptoms over time. Other cases will be situational. This means that the symptoms will surface and fade, depending on different elements, like:

  • Prevalence of triggers
  • Level of stress in day-to-day life
  • Ability to cope with triggers and stress
  • Engagement in therapy and treatment services

It is important to consider that this statistic is based on the data collected from people who have acknowledged having trichotillomania. This implies that the statistic of .5 to 3 per cent of the population does not account for people who have trichotillomania and do not feel comfortable with talking about, seeking help for, or disclosing that they also suffer from the disorder.

Considering that many people who struggle with trichotillomania feel a sense of shame and embarrassment about having the disorder and prefer to not discuss the details of their case, it is safe to assume that the actual percentage of people who suffer from trichotillomania is likely higher than this evidenced based statistic.

What Are The Demographics Of Trichotillomania?

To date, an estimated 2.5 million people in the United States suffer from trichotillomania at some point in their lifetime, and it currently impacts up to  920,000 Australians. On average, a person will begin to show signs of trichotillomania between the ages of 9 and 13 years old, but people can begin to show signs as early as 4 and at any point during adolescence or adulthood.

Gender And Race Statistics

Statistics show that significantly more females will suffer from trichotillomania than men. According to the American Journal of Psychiatry (2016), for every one man who reports suffering from trichotillomania, there are four women also suffering from the disorder. This means that there are four times as many women who report having suffered from trichotillomania as men.

Presently, there is no data that shows a significant difference in the prevalence of trichotillomania between racial groups.

Comorbidity Statistics

“Comorbidity” is a term used to refer to a person who suffers from more than one type of mental health disorder. Trichotillomania is often not the only mental health disorder a person suffers from when he or she suffers from the disorder. According to the American Association of Psychiatry, an estimated 60 per cent of trichotillomania cases are comorbid with another mental health disorder. Most people of trichotillomania also suffer from an anxiety disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or another type of impulse control disorder. Furthermore, an estimated 5 per cent of people who suffer from trichotillomania also suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder.

Trichotillomania is more prevalent in the population than people tend to realise. There are several reasons for this; between the shame and guilt felt by people who suffer from the disorder and lack of information and awareness about the disorder, it is easy to understand why most people do not fully understand what trichotillomania is or how many people it affects.

Trichotillomania is a disorder that affects many people and does have a significant impact on an affected person’s quality of life. Fortunately, with proper treatment and therapeutic intervention, it is possible to recover from the disorder and learn coping skills needed to maintain control and minimise its damaging symptoms.

GinaMarie G. is a licensed mental health counsellor, writing about mental health in general and about OCD and related disorders in particular, for trichstop.com.

Do you struggle with trichotillomania? Are you concerned a loved one may partake in chronic hair pulling? Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245, Duncan on 0434 331 243, or Rachel on 0422 177 193 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book on our online diary.

40 Ways to care for your mental health

40-Ways-to-care-for-your-mental-health

As non-profits gear up for World Mental Health Day on October 10, now is the perfect time to consider how you can best take care of our own mental health. We all have our ups and down when it comes to our mental health, and this is often impacted by what’s going on in our lives and the world around us.

So how has your mental health been lately? Are you sailing along contentedly, or do you feel the weight of a thousand different expectations on your shoulders? Maybe you’re doing well for the most part, but you’ve sensed a shift in your mood since politics has taken over your social media? Or perhaps you feel isolated and lonely, and asking for help seems like a big step.

Wherever your mental health is at, this World Mental Health Day is your invitation to take stock of your wellbeing and have permission to care for it. This coming week, Australian charity Headspace is asking their supporters to answer the question: What puts you in a good headspace?

We’d love you to answer the same question. If you’re not sure, think about what makes you happy. When was the last time you felt most alive? And what helps you to relax and feel positive? You can find out more about Headspace’s Headspace Day campaign and fill out your own placard for social media here.

If you’re struggling to get started, here are 40 ways you can put yourself in a good headspace and care for your mental health.

  • Read a good book or watch a feel-good movie
  • Journal or colour in
  • Join a team sport
  • Go for a walk outside
  • Run or workout
  • Treat yourself to a delicious snack
  • Make a healthy (and yummy!) smoothie or juice
  • Go out for coffee
  • Take a ten minute break
  • Deactivate your social media
  • Catch up with a friend
  • Go to the beach
  • Go hiking
  • Turn off your phone
  • Try to bake something new
  • Try a new, healthy food
  • Go on a day trip
  • See a counsellor
  • Call a helpline or email them online
  • Write a letter to someone and never send it
  • Try a new hobby
  • Make a new friend
  • Go to a wildlife park
  • Ask someone to help you out
  • Take deep breaths
  • Meditate
  • Learn something new
  • Listen to music
  • Pat an animal
  • Book a holiday
  • Take a nap
  • Go to bed early
  • Cut back on alcohol and drugs
  • Learn about something new
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Read blogs online
  • Watch funny videos
  • Practice Mindfulness

Do you want to care for your mental health?  Would you like some support or guidance as you try these different strategies? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

How one father explains mental illness and parenthood

How-one-father-explains-mental-illness-and-parenthood

Comics about mental health have been making the rounds on social media for the past few years, and artists like Toby Allen and Gemma Correll have changed the way many of us talk about mental illness. Now there’s another artist to add to the mix—but with a point of difference.

Toronto based teacher Chris Grady is the creator of Lunar Baboon, a series of comics depicting his everyday life. His comics are simple and sweet, showing the moments he interacts with his wife and kids. Notably, they also poignantly depict his struggle with mental illness.

In an interview with The Mighty, he explained that he began drawing to cope with his own struggles.

“After the birth of my first son, I was going through a really hard time. I wasn’t sleeping and started getting really depressed and found myself in a dark place. I needed something different, I was having a lot of negative thoughts and I needed a place to put them so I started drawing in a moleskin notebook and it’s taken off from there,” he said.

From comics about cheeky interactions with his son, to honest encounters with his wife, and brave attempts to find humour as he lives with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, there’s something instantly relatable about Chris’s work. What’s more, it shows how to healthily communicate in family relationships and what we can do to support one another.

To see more of Chris’s work, visit LunarBaboon.com. His book Lunar Baboon: The Daily Life of Parenthood is out now.

Are you a parent? Would you like support so you can manage a mental illness? Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

10 Mental Health Accounts You Need To Follow on Instagram

10-Mental-Health-Accounts-You-Need-To-Follow-on-Instagram

Instagram has it all—cute cat videos, hilarious memes and way too many photos of food. But did you know that there are also some great mental health accounts on there?

In recognition of the millions of people who share their stories around mental health every day on the social media platform, Instagram started the #hereforyou hastag. To celebrate, we decided to share some of the best mental health accounts with you. Here are some of our favourites…

@gemmacorrell

Gemma is an illustrator living in the UK, and you may have seen her drawings on cards at your local gift shop or bookstore. Known for her hilarious and accurate portrayals of life with anxiety (and frequent cameos from her pug dogs), this is a cute and encouraging addition to your news feed.

@dallasclayton

Not so much a mental health account, Dallas’ Instagram feed is a feel-good vault of his artwork. Fun, whimsical and always filled with a positive message, this gets some colour into your day and puts you in a good head space.

@themelodyh

We’re big fans of Melody’s #BecauseHonestly series, but her account is also worth a follow because her lettering communicates the vulnerability and weakness we all feel at some point in our lives. Taking everyday thoughts and feelings, she reminds us that we’re not alone in our struggles.

@introvertdoodles

While this account is made for introverts, anyone with social anxiety will love these illustrations by Maureen ‘Marzi’ Wilson. Endearing and fiercely accurate, each pic is a comforting reminder that it’s ok to enjoy your own space and recharge.

@buddyproject

Existing to connect people across the globe to prevent suicide, The Buddy Project uses their account to ask questions about mental health, promote conversation and educate their followers around different disorders.

@beating_binge_eating

If you’re looking for some body positivity and self-confidence, Beating Binge Eating is sure to boost your self-esteem with its validating and truthful messages. Forget taking the perfect selfie, give this account a follow instead.

@happify

Happify empowers individuals and organisations to build resilience and mindfulness, and their account is a collection of interesting facts about the benefits of mindfulness, ways to practice it and inspiring quotes to motivate you each day.

@beautiful_mandalas

Mandalas are a unique tool for mindfulness and relaxation because they can created, drawn, coloured in or found in nature. This account has over 215,000 followers and curates the best mandalas posted on Instagram, encouraging you to relax and connect with the world around you.

@bymariaandrew

Maria’s illustrations are cute, though provocative and immediately relatable. Her drawing range from communicating the pain of relationship break ups to the non-linear path of recovery and thoughts on grief. This account is essential to your follow list.

@makedaisychains

Make Daisy Chains is Hannah Daisy, and she specialises in her #BoringSelfcare pictures—reminding us that even the most basic acts are important when we don’t feel 100 per cent, are struggling with mental health issues or experience chronic illness.  Follow this account for reminders to take care of yourself and fun suggestions on how to do it.

And last but not least…@Watersedgecounselling

That’s right, Watersedge is on Instagram! Follow us for our latest blogs and inspirational quotes that will motivate you to achieve wellness in your self, relationships and work life.

Do you struggle with a mental illness? Would you like to learn about day-to-day strategies you can use to soothe yourself? Call Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. To make an appointment, go to BOOK NOW and you will be able to access Watersedgecounselling’s online appointment diary.

 

Making anti-depressants part of a holistic recovery

Making anti-depressants part of a holistic recovery

Throughout my life, my mental health has gone up and down dramatically. At my worst, I had issues with substance abuse, self-harm and suicidal idealisation. On more than one occasion I almost followed through. Eventually I went to a doctor and was put on some antidepressants.

They saved my life. However, despite being great at keeping me alive, they were certainly not ideal. Regardless of the type I tried, I faced the same issues: nausea, headaches, lack of appetite, an inability to drive and lethargy.

After a few months of living in ambiguity, I realised what was happening and I didn’t like it. Life felt bland and muted—a side effect some people feel on anti-depressant medication, which can impact them for both the short and long term.

There had to be another way. So upon a friend’s advice, I started seeing a psychologist for regular therapy sessions (great idea) and stopped antidepressants cold turkey (horrible idea).

Thankfully I was now receiving expert help. My psychologist was able to recognise my problems and help me move towards recovery. She also worked me through the transition off medication and initiated other forms of therapy. Medication became a backup to be used if my mental state falls significantly.

Under the guidance of a GP, taking anti-depressants can be a helpful tool in recovery, but they should always be part of a holistic approach to your health. Here are seven strategies you can implement right now:

Sport and Exercise
Exercise releases positive hormones, gets the blood pumping and makes you feel good. In addition, the social aspect of a sport cannot be understated, as the friends and comradery gained can last a lifetime.

Writing
This has been the best form of therapy for me and I couldn’t recommend it more. Poetry, free writing, fiction or a simple diary, the choice is yours. Through writing, you can privately express everything, honing the words until they perfectly reflect how you feel.

Reading

Reading is one of the best forms of mindful distraction. Reading forces you to focus on the present moment, which, for the duration of the read, is in a fictional universe. Focused attention to the present moment has tremendous benefits for mental health and the escapism aspects of fiction cannot be understated.

Good diet

You are what you eat, literally. Your brain is just another organ of the body and as such it is vital that it is being properly maintained. A good diet that has a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats combined with lots of water will ensure that your hardware is well maintained and working properly.

Meditation
More and more people are turning to a daily meditation practice to help calm a troubled mind. There are endless methods, books and apps available, but the key here is to develop and maintain a habit. Personally I have found that mindfulness meditation focusing on the breath, mala beads or a mantra to be particularly beneficial.

Socialization
Humans are social animals; we thrive on friendships and connection. Where at all possible, make the choice to hang out with your friends, even if for only a small amount of time. If there is somebody in whom you can confide, talk with them, you will be surprised what opening up to people can do.

Goal Setting

Setting and chasing goals can be amazing, choose something that you want to accomplish and begin to work towards it. This is what life is all about, striving to achieve something. If you define your goals and display them prominently they can provide a source of drive and motivation. Just make sure they follow the SMART principle. 

Professional help

Professional help cannot be understated. A psychologist or counsellor is somebody who has trained and has experience helping people with similar issues to what you are feeling. Feel free to try a few different ones before settling; you need to ensure a good fit.

Zachary Phillips is a survivor of suicide and a mental health advocate. You can view his blog here. His book Under ‘The Influence – Reclaiming My Childhood’ is out now.

Do you struggle with feelings of isolation and lethargy? Would you like support to enter holistic recovery ? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how she can best help you or press book now on the online diary.

Meet Joy, the new chat-bot that tracks your mental health

Meet-Joy

Earlier this year we did a countdown of the best mindfulness apps on the market. Now a new app, or technically a ‘chat-bot’, is on the scene, and it’s got everyone’s attention.

Named Joy, the bot is downloaded as an extension to your Facebook Messenger, enabling you to communication with the app like you would a friend. Not only does Joy track your mood, it also assesses how you are feeling, monitors your daily activities and suggests meditation and self-care techniques to benefit your health. Think of it as a built in best friend, who asks you about the nitty-gritty details of your life once a day.

Meet-Joy-2

joy_demo_2

It’s important to note that Joy is still in the beginning stages. While the app gives you weekly reports on your mood and can ‘chat’ with you, it can’t yet understand everything you say. Created for people who aren’t seeing a professional therapist or counsellor, or who don’t regularly monitor their mental health, in the future it will encourage users to seek professional support.

This new take on self-care and suicide prevention has received attention from numerous outlets, such as The Mighty and Hello Giggles. According to Venture Beat, app creator Danny Freed created the bot after he lost a friend to suicide.

“My goal is not to replace therapists but rather to get more people who are in need to see a trained professional,” he said. “Right now, it’s pretty simple, but in the future, it could connect you with a trained human therapist or even perform basic reminders and routine check-ins automatically”.

You can find out more by visiting hellojoy.ai online. Due to an onslaught of traffic its servers have struggled, so visit Joy on Twitter as well.

Do you feel stressed, anxious and/or depressed? Do you need some support monitoring your mental heath? Then here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how she can best help you, or press book now to book on the online diary.

How to Find the Right Counsellor For You: 6 Questions to Ask Yourself

counsellor

Seeking professional support is a huge step for anyone. If you’ve looked for a counsellor before, you know how difficult it is to even book an appointment, let alone see the therapist. As challenging as this process can be though, counselling is a safe and constructive method for finding support as you go through any number of issues.

When you look for a therapist, the names, qualifications and therapy techniques can all get a bit confusing, and this can make it really difficult to find the best professional to help you. Often, you don’t really know if the counsellor is best suited to you until you meet them. Here are six questions to ask yourself that will show you if you’ve found the right therapist for you.

  1. Do I feel safe?

You should feel safe and secure when you see a counsellor. Ask yourself: do I feel relaxed in their presence? Do I feel judged or misunderstood by them? You can choose to see a therapist of a certain gender, speciality or background in order to achieve this, and can assess how secure you feel once you meet them.

  1. Do I feel understood?

You will mesh better with a counsellor who speaks like you, understands your colloquialisms, and frames their words in a way that makes sense. Don’t feel compelled to understand professional jargon, the best counsellor for you will understand how you tick, and will speak to you like an equal.

  1. Do I leave feeling empowered?

Counselling sessions can be challenging, and when you’ve discussed certain issues it makes sense that you will feel emotionally exhausted. However, a session should always leave you feeling empowered, like you’ve accomplished something, or have found the tools to achieve something new in your life. If you leave feeling belittled and dehumanised, they’re probably not the right counsellor for you.

  1. Do I feel pressure to come back?

Seeking professional help is a long-term process, and once you’ve found the right counsellor, you will establish a routine of how often and when you see them. That being said, if you feel as though the counsellor gives you no option but to come back, they are not helping you. A healthy professional relationship has open communication, and a good counsellor will give you the option of reassessing if and when you want to return in the first few sessions.

  1. Do I see a difference in my life?

It will take approximately six sessions to gather if you really connect with your counsellor. In that time, you should begin to see some changes in your behaviour and thought patterns. It is not a counsellor’s responsibility to ‘fix’ you, but to help you find the tools to experience change and wellness. If you are not seeing this development in your life, ask yourself: is the counsellor helping me, and am I completely participating in the process?

  1. Do they listen to me?

A good counsellor won’t tell you what to do. They may give advice, but their aim is to help you find answers yourself. If a counsellor talks more than they listen, if they seem uncomfortable in your silence, or if they put words in your mouth without your feedback, they may not be the right one for you.

Do you need a safe place to discuss your wellbeing? Would you like to see a counsellor? Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

Check Out This Great New Website for the LBGTI Community

LBGTI

It can be difficult to find specific and compassionate advice for the LBGTI (Lesbian, Bi, Gay, Trans, Intersex) community, especially around drugs, alcohol and sex. If you’re a part of it, the difficulty of finding a comprehensive and understanding resource is very real. And if you have a friend or a family member who needs support, finding them a great website, let alone a counsellor who can help them out, can be as difficult as moving a mountain. The good news is that this last week VAC just launched the terrific website Touchbase, which is completely dedicated to informing and supporting LBGTI people of all ages. We’re really excited about Touchbase at Watersedge, and wanted to share some details about it with you.

ALCOHOL AND DRUGS

With details about drugs ranging from alcohol to Viagra and GHB, Touchbase gives you comprehensive coverage of what substances contain, how they affect you in the moment, and the long-term consequences of their use. Giving some insight to safe use of substances, and how to avoid mixing them, it also details how use of each substance affects people living with HIV.

MENTAL HEALTH

People who are LBGTI are at a higher risk of suicide (Beyond Blue), so the need for specific and honest details around mental health for this community is fundamentally needed. On Touchbase, you are given details ranging from the affects of drugs on the brain, coping strategies to take care of yourself if you’re feeling ‘shaky’ and how to find help and support.

SEXUAL HEALTH

While we often shy away from it, the sexual health of anyone is integral to a person’s overall health and wellbeing. Touchbase is straight up in addressing these issues, tackling HIV, STD’s, the facts around safe sex, risk prevention and how sex and drugs mix.

PRACTICAL ADVICE

Aside from informing you with details about substances, mental health and sex, Touchbase also provides you with a ‘Toolkit’ so you can implement them in your everyday life. We’re talking self-assessments to measure your substance use, tools to help you party safely, details about treatment, and how to reduce use of alcohol and drugs. This is a great section when you need to take another step and actively practice self care in your own life, or want to help a friend out.

STORIES

While this area of Touchbase is still in development, the opportunity to share your own story with the LBGTI community is available so other people can be inspired by your honesty and journey. Once this area is developed, you will also be able to find stories on there from like-minded teens and adults. Not only is this a healing tool for both the storytellers and readers, it is also integral in the overall wellbeing of the LBGTI community, minimising isolation and raising awareness.

Are you a member of the LBGTI community, in a same sex relationship, or want to support a friend seeking help? Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how she can best help you, or press book now to book on the online diary.

The 34 Best Bloggers Who Advocate for Mental Health and Wellness

The-34-Best-Bloggers-Who-Advocate-for-Mental-Health-and-WellnessWatersedgeCounselling has just been named one of the Top 34 Best Blogs on the Internet Who Advocate and Inform People About Mental Health and Wellness. We are so excited to have been recognised by Australian Counselling, and are thrilled our weekly blog posts are not only reaching people, but also making an impact.

To peruse the list, you can visit Australian Counselling here.

To celebrate, we want to ask you a question.

What do you want to see more of on WatersedgeCounselling?

Whether you are a fan of infographics, relationship centred pieces, wellness based blogs ,or drug and alcohol education themed posts; we want to know what most interests you.

Let us know by commenting below. Thank you for being a part of the Watersedge journey and reading our work every week. We look forward to bringing you more thoughtful and useful content in the future.

~ Colleen and the Watersedge Team

Do you want to learn how to take better care of your mental health? Would you like to discuss how to create a lifestyle of wellness?  Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

Why Be Present?

It is normal for our minds to wander. Whether we are in conversation, at work, or doing day-to-day activities, we have a tendency to think about the past or the future. When we do this, we are more prone to anxiety and depression. By practicing Mindfulness and being present in every situation, science has shown that we will be happier.

When does your mind wander, and what do you think about? Next time you find yourself thinking ahead, take a moment and live in the present. This infographic by Presence Training tells us more about the benefits of being present and how we can do this in our own lives. Take a look and let us know how you stay mindful every day.

Presence-infographic-Being-PresentDo you feel stressed, anxious and/or depressed? Are you looking for creative ways to relax and enjoy life? Then here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434331243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how she can best help you, or press book now to book on the online diary.