Yes, trichotillomania and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are related. They are both anxiety disorders, and both have compulsions as the core problem. Compulsions are the need to carry out an act or behavior in order to reduce the anxiety induced by obsessions (intrusive thoughts).
However, the obsessions in trichotillomania are not well defined, as they are in OCD. For example, in OCD, you may have obsessions that you are constantly exposed to germs. So you have a germ contamination fear. So the thought of germs induces anxiety, and the anxiety makes you very uncomfortable. To get relief from the anxiety, you resort to compulsive behaviors, so if you have germ contamination fears, you resort to excessive cleaning behaviors, which may take hours, if not most of the day, and most days of the week. The compulsions are effective at reducing your anxiety in the short term, so that is why you keep doing it. But after a few minutes of stopping the cleaning behaviors, your anxiety returns as you still have the thoughts that you are exposed to germs. And this again makes you anxious, and you have to resort to the cleaning behaviors once again. Of course, when you are cleaning, your anxiety is reduced, but only when you are cleaning do you have this relief from anxiety. So you spend most of your time cleaning- this then becomes very disruptive to your life, as you can do nothing else but clean.
As for trichotillomania (yes, I know, it’s a tongue twister- but try spelling it from memory), it is an anxiety disorder which has hair pulling as its main problem. So people with trichotillomania pull their hair out, and this relieves the tension built up when they don’t pull their hair out. So the obsessions, or intrusive thought, may not be so obvious in trichotillomania, but it could be that they think they have too much hair, or it doesn’t look right with all that hair, or they may be stressed out from other things. Regardless of the intrusive thoughts which lead to the anxiety, the hair pulling behaviors relieves the tension, and like in OCD, you only get relief when you engage in the compulsions. So when you see someone with trichotillomania, you may see someone with no hair on their head, or you may see some hair with bald patches. In others, you may see no eyebrows, or no eyelashes (ouch, that would be painful). Or they may pick any other areas of their body that has hair.
To learn more about trichotillomania, OCD, and other anxiety disorders, please visit the rest of AnxietyBoss.com.