Use of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor citalopram in treatment of trichotillomania

  • Dan J. Stein
  • Colin Bouwer
  • Catherine M. Maud
Original Paper


Previous trials of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in the treatment of trichotillomania have provided conflicting data. Furthermore, the efficacy of citalopram, the most selective of the SSRIs, in trichotillomania has not previously been documented. Citalopram was used on an open-label naturalistic basis in 14 (1 male and 13 females) patients who presented with chronic hair pulling and met DSM-IV criteria for trichotillomania. Ratings were completed every 2 weeks for 12 weeks, during which time dosage was increased to a maximum of 60 mg daily (mean dose 36.2 ± 13.9 mg). One patient was unable to tolerate citalopram. In completers, ratings on each of the scales employed were significantly improved after treatment. Of completers 38.5% were responders (Clinical Global Impressions score of 2 or less) at week 12. Citalopram appears to be safe in trichotillomania, and it may be effective in a subset of patients. Given the relatively low response rate, however, a controlled trial is needed before this agent can be said to be more effective than placebo. The pharmacotherapy of trichotillomania deserves further study.

Key words

Trichotillomania Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor Citalopram 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dan J. Stein
    • 1
  • Colin Bouwer
    • 1
  • Catherine M. Maud
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of StellenboschTygerbergSouth Africa

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