Victoria’s Secret Angel Sara Sampaio is opening up about a mental health issue that affects her everyday life: trichotillomania, a condition that gives her the urge to pluck the hair from her eyebrows.
On July 20, Sampaio asked her Instagram followers to ask her questions via Instagram Stories because she was “stuck in traffic.” One follower asked the 27-year-old model about her eyebrow routine, and Sampaio replied, “Well I try not to touch them, but unfortunately I suffer from trichotillomania and I pull on them! ? so I have lots of gaps in them, I just use a eyebrow pencil to fill out the gaps!”
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After receiving messages from fans who also suffer from from the hair-pulling disorder, Sampaio decided to post a lengthier response on Instagram Stories about her experience with trichotillomania, which a fan later reposted on Twitter. “For those who don’t know what it [trichotillomania] is, it’s also known as a hair pulling disorder. It’s an impulse control disorder characterized by a long term urge that results in the pulling out of one’s hair,” she wrote.
According to the Mayo Clinic, trichotillomania is a mental disorder that involves urges to pull hair from your scalp, eyebrows, or other areas of your body. For some people, trichotillomania is a mild disorder that is generally manageable, but for others, the compulsive urges leave them with patchy bald spots. And while the cause of trichotillomania is unclear, factors like family history, stress, and anxiety may contribute to one’s chances of suffering from it. Trichotillomania is reported to affect as much as 4% of the population, and women are affected more than men.
Sampaio explained her experience with the disorder started when she was 15, with pulling out her eyelashes. She then started pulling out her eyebrows, and her episodes are “a lot worse when I’m under a lot of stress” or when “I’m not doing anything like watching TV or reading a book,” Stylecaster reported.
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Sara shared her story about having trichotillomania and spread a really kind message ♥️ pic.twitter.com/N9poDlGWCD
— Angel Sara Sampaio (@MyAngelSaraS) July 20, 2018
Sampaio noted that she has a mild form of the disorder, and she was prescribed something called NAC by her doctor to help with the hair pulling impulse. NAC, or N-acetylcysteine, is an amino acid that influences neurotransmitters related to mood, as the Mayo Clinic reports. The model said that while NAC has helped, her impulses aren’t completely gone, so she wants to ask her doctor about naltrexone, a medicine that is most used to help treat drug and alcohol addiction, according to WebMD.
Sampaio emphasized that other sufferers of trichotillomania should talk to their doctors before starting any treatment plan, and she ended her explanation of the disorder with words of encouragement. “This is a disorder that people can’t just simply stop! But being understanding and kind goes a long way! Much love to everyone,” she wrote.
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This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.