GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- We all have urges we try to resist: The urge to sleep in, to eat more than we should, to watch TV instead of exercise.
But imagine if one of those urges was to pull your hair out, and you were only eight years old.
Aidan Green loves to play video games, fighting the bad guys and racking up points. But there's a real life battle he fights everyday that isn't as much fun. Aidan has trichotillomania, a condition that causes him to pull his hair out.
Aidan's mom Kathleen says she first noticed it when they moved for the fourth time to a new city. "We're a military family, my husband's a major in the U.S. Army," she explains.
Kathleen thought the condition may have been brought on by the stress of having to make new friends again. But as the condition got worse, she knew Aidan needed help.
"We think these problems stem from a little bit of mis-wiring in this part of the brain called [the] limbic system, which is responsible for our emotions, our urges, etc.," says Alan Carriero, Aidan's therapist.
Carriero is a clinical social worker who specializes in trichotillomania.
"We think that possibly there's an element of addiction because whenever we get poked by a pin or bang our knee, the body releases a little bit of endorphin into the blood stream, pleasure chemicals. It's kind of a way to let off a little steam, or to give a little zing and a little feeling bit of energy," explains Carriero.
The disorder is more common than you might think; two to three percent of the population has this hair pulling disorder. The good news is those with the condition can learn to control it.
"We think that the hands and fingers and sense of touch is a big part of this thing. So if we can get the fingers interested in other sensations that we like, we can occupy them with that instead of going up here," says Carriero.
For Aidan, playing video games or reading books is one of the only times he doesn't feel the urge to pull.
Aidan's mother is looking to start a support group for other children in West Michigan afflicted with Trichotillomania so that Aidan understands there are other children just like him.