Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Is Your Nervous Habit a Sign of Something Serious?

Depending on how you cope with stress, your nervous habit may be a scary sign of things to come. By Seth Czarnecki Anxiety and stress affects each person differently. While one person may cope with stress by crying, another may go for an extended jog exercising. You may take a nap or resort to the pint of frozen ice cream you’ve been saving for such an occasion. Although these reactions seem normal, there are others that may respond to stress in less productive ways. Here, an account of common nervous habits and what your body may be telling you by the way you react to stress. 1. Nail biting. For those who do not bite their nails, this can be a most unattractive habit. However, for those who chew their nails on a consistent basis, biting ones nails can seem like a release. Nail biting is commonly looked at as a reaction to stress; but according to some psychologists, nail biters may suffer from a poor self-image or could be punishing themselves for deep rooted anxieties. In fact, some psychologists speculate that nail biting can arise from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)—an anxiety disorder in which a person repeatedly performs tasks or rituals as a means to cope with unwanted thoughts. What’s most disturbing is the potential harm this seemingly harmless act can cause, including: severe gingivitis, oral herpes, and deformed nails. 2. Craving Non-Food Items. It may sound foreign, weird, or unbelievable, but the truth is that many experience non-food cravings. Pica, the compulsive eating and craving of non-food items, is common in pregnant women. Common cravings include rocks, dirt, clay, hair, the smell of gasoline, laundry detergent, paper, and feces. The causes of pica are not fully understood; however, some believe that it can stem from nutritional deficiencies from a lack of calcium, zinc, and vitamins C and D. Also, it is believed that the rapid shift in hormones alter a woman’s sense of smell and/or taste. 3. Compulsive Shopping. The term “shopaholic” is usually prescribed in jest to those who cannot seem to go anywhere without finding something they “need”. However, it’s speculated that nearly 20 million Americans suffer from the uncontrollable urge to purchase items they may not necessarily need. Many believe that shopaholism stems from Americans’ constant want of material possessions. According to shopaholicsanonymous.org, however, compulsive shopping can stem from the inability to cope with negative feelings, the need to fill an inner void, or even emotional deprivation during childhood. 4. Hoarding. Though it may seem ridiculous to some, for those who suffer from compulsive hoarding it is no laughing matter. Hoarding—the excessive collection of items—can make an individual feel obligated to collect newspapers, Band-Aids, old food, and even animals. The common hoarder’s home is packed with old junk with little room to move or walk. Hoarding can put sufferers at risk due to highly unsanitary conditions. In extreme cases, hoarders will not bathe or change clothing because they believe they need them. Although most psychologists believe hoarding stems from OCD, it may also be the result of damage to the prefrontal cortex—a brain region involved in decision-making. Damage can occur from stroke, or an extreme blow to the head. {Source}

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