Treatment options for paediatric trichotillomania
background Trichotillomania (ttm) is a psychiatric condition that first manifests itself in infancy and adolescence. If untreated, the condition can become chronic. ttm places a considerable burden on the individual patient. The condition is often linked to social isolation and the emergence of somatic and psychiatric comorbidity. Nevertheless, investment in research, particularly in the pharmacotherapeutical area, has been rather limited.
aim To provide an overview of the phenomenology of ttm, the associated comorbidity and the therapies available for treating this underexposed child psychiatric disorder.
method We searched PubMed using the the MeSH term ‘trichotillomania/therapy’ and located 49 relevant articles.
results We found 49 usable articles. Selective serotonine reuptake inhibitors (ssris) are the most frequently prescribed drugs for the treatment of pediatric ttm, although their efficacy is not yet proven. The results of a meta-analysis of several ssris did not differ significantly from the results obtained with patients who had been prescribed only placebos. The efficacy of ssris in youths has not been studied yet. A meta-analysis of clomipramine with adult ttm patients did show a statistical difference with the control group. The efficacy of clomipramine in youths has not yet been studied. In a randomised controlled trial (rct), treatment of adult ttm patients with olanzapine proved to be more effective than placebos. Despite this rct and the positive results of open-label studies with pimozide and haloperidol in adults, there is no research available concerning the efficacy of antipsychotics in children and youths. In an rct with 7-8 year-olds, cognitive behavioural therapy was found to decrease the symptoms in 75% of the participants.
conclusion For now there’s only evidence for hrt as effective intervention in children and youths with ttm.