Have you ever been so stressed out that you’ve said you’ll pull out your hair? Well some people are driven to do just that. For those with the urge (called trichotillomania), new research shows that a daily dose of amino acids can help, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

People who suffer from this compulsive condition often pull out their hair and cause unsightly bald spots on their scalps.

For the 12-week study, researchers monitored 45 female and five male trichotillomania sufferers, ages 18 to 65. The participants were divided into two groups: half received a 1,200 milligrams (mg) daily dose of N-Acetylcysteine (NAC), an amino acid, for six weeks and then an increased dosage of 2,400 mg daily. The other group took a placebo treatment for the duration of the study.

At the end of the study, 56 percent of the participants who received amino acid treatment reported feeling a decreased urge to pull their hair compared with 16 percent of the placebo group.

This study was the first that examined the effectiveness of NAC (a.k.a. a glutamatergic agent) in trichotillomania treatment, said Jon Grant, MD, lead researcher and psychiatrist at the University of Minnesota.

Researchers are studying glutamatergic agents as treatments for addictive behaviors, such as hair pulling, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and gambling. This study found that NAC demonstrated statistically significant reductions in trichotillomania symptoms, Grant said.

Scientists noted that it’s important for health professionals to know the signs and symptoms of trichotillomania so they can screen patients and provide quick medical attention for the disorder if necessary.

If you think you may suffer from trichotillomania, scientists suggest you talk to your doctor about possibly using amino acid therapy to treat the condition.

Trichotillomania occurs in about 2 percent of Americans, most often women.

Click here to find out how genetics can be the reason for your hair loss.