Using Medication for Hair Pulling

by Abby Leora Rohrer

I've been asked many times why I never took medication to deal with my hair pulling problem. The fact is that I did consider it for a time but ruled it out. My reasoning stemmed from the fact that I had been raised by a mom who was dependent on antidepressants from the earliest days of my life. What I noticed was that while my mom's condition was "managed," she never really improved and it was clear that she seemed to be in a subtle kind of a "glazed-over" state. She wasn't really and truly there.

I came to understand this a bit more when I was about 18. I had returned home for a stay with my parents but was struggling emotionally. My mother offered me one of her antidepressants and I took her up on it. It was Elavil, an old-style antidepressant and not one of the newer SSRI-type drugs. But what I experienced turned me off to using medication unless it was absolutely necessary. Bald spots didn't fit into this category for me.

I took the drug and then proceeded to sleep a full eighteen hours. When I woke up I felt groggy and frankly worse than before. It seemed to take a few days for the drug to wear off after that. It didn't help at all and I'd had enough. I ruled it out as a solution from that point on.

That fact is that medication may be necessary in certain instances but you may be better off not taking it unless you've got a condition that is dangerous enough to warrant dealing with known and unknown consequences and side-effects.

But that choice is fully up to you; I wanted to offer you a bit of information just in case you are on medication, considering using it, or considering discontinuing it.

Effects of Certain Medications or Dosages

I want to let you know that I have had students on various types of SSRI's successfully complete this program. Those students have reported that for them the medication helped them to be willing to look at and work with motional issues that they otherwise would have shied away from.

Other students have reported that the medication they're taking for hair pulling prevents them from "full-strength" feelings or even numbs their feelings and this could potentially slow your progress with healing.

If you are on SSRIs strictly for hair pulling and no other reason, and if you feel they are impacting your ability to full feel your feelings, you may want to speak to your doctor about safely discontinuing them so that you can move through this system as fast as possible without possible interference from your medication.

Medication for Reasons beyond Hair Pulling

However, if you're on psychiatric medication for any reason in addition to your hair pulling, DON'T discontinue your medication. Talk with your doctor and explain that you're working to heal your hair pulling and want to finish the old feelings that led you to do it. You can ask your doctor if it might be possible to slightly lower your dosage if you feel that the meds are interfering with your feeling-ability.

And please remember, if you have any other psychiatric condition you should be working with a psychiatrist or licensed counselor for the duration of working with this system.

Here are some more resources for you about SSRIs:
Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Partnership

Deciding Whether to, When to, or How to Discontinue SSRIs

I wanted to let you know that if you're taking medication for your hair pulling and you decide to discontinue it, that you must get your doctor's advice before doing so because it's crucial to slowly wean yourself rather than stop cold-turkey.

This is a serious concern and here are some resources for you to learn more:

Please note: I do not recommend or endorse any of the above website but simply offer them as a place to begin your research.

Now is the time to get going, get working and heal the stuff that fuels your pulling so that you can create the best life for you!

Join me on the other side of hair pulling!

If you’re a hair pulling woman, you may wish to research TrichotillomaniaFree Women’s University where I teach the deeper lessons of how to stop your self-judgment and hair pulling for good.

If you’d like more help to stop hair pulling you can visit my 123TrichotillomaniaFree web site which discusses my book, What's Wrong With Pulling My Hair Out? It's a great place to begin. It is also available from this website and can be purchased right now using this order link.

If you’re an adult male hair puller or a woman hair puller without internet access who is ready to commit to your freedom, you may wish to consider the Pull-Free, At Last! System available at