The disorder, called Trichotillomania (TTM) affects two million people, thought to be more than the 1.6 million people struggling with eating disorders.
It can also cause people to pull out their eyelashes, eyebrow and other hair on their body.
Trichotillomania is a psychological condition where the person is unable to stop themselves carrying out a particular action.
They will experience an intense urge to pull their hair out and growing tension until they do – and many use it as a way of relieving stress or anxiety.
After pulling out hair, most sufferers feel a sense of relief.
Ruth said: “I couldn’t stop and my family found its hard to understand – ‘why do it if you don’t want to’” they would say.
“But I would spend hours searching for the right hair to pull.
“While I was pulling I felt safe, like I had a security blanket around me, in a trance like state.
Angela Habeshi has also suffered with TTM
Katie Nieman, 27, said she started pulling out her hair at university, partly, she believes, as a result of exam pressure.
“I was sat in the library for my geography finals at Oxford, finishing a 1,500-word essay, and feeling the stress of competition and exam nerves, when I first pulled out a hair,” she said.
“It was coarser and darker than the rest – it felt like it didn’t belong, so I just pulled at it.
Hair loss specialist Lucinda Ellery, launched International No Pulling Week 2016 – which runs from October 3 to 9 – to raise awareness for the overwhelming number of women who suffer in silence from the disorder.
Lucinda has studios around the world and offers hair loss solutions to help women suffering with the condition.
“Over the past 30 years I’ve worked with so many women affected by the condition who feel completely alone,” she said.
To treat the condition, women can be fitted with a system which means they can’t pull their hair out.
”If it wasn’t for my Intralace system, which I have to wear until such time I get my TTM back under control, I’m not sure I’d have the confidence to be myself,” she said.
Lucinda said she wants to raise awareness for TTM by encouraging people to talk about the condition.
“It is more a common than we realise and it needs to be recognised,” she said.
“More awareness will help the 90 per cent of sufferers currently suffering in silence to come forward and seek treatment which we hope International No Pulling Week 2016 will help to achieve.”
The condition can also be treated with psychotherapy and behavioural therapy.