Our old friend — anxiety — can wreak havoc on a clean, blemish-free complexion. Dermatillomania sufferers and compulsive finger pickers often report generalized feelings of anxiety right before the picking starts. The ritual of picking — even to the point of causing pain and self-injury — can actually be an emotional relief.
Full-blown anxiety is several notches higher on the emotional Richter Scale than plain old nervousness — another cause of the compulsive picking habit. Anxiety is a buildup of the fear, apprehension, or worry. It can actually cause moderate-to-severe physical problems such as chest tightness, nausea, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, or headache. Its no wonder that severely anxious people seek release through any means available — including finger picking, compulsive skin picking and hair pulling.
The shame of badly scratched or blemished skin and fingers — or infected fingernails — as a result of an anxious picking habit is often outweighed by the psychic relief experienced within the act of picking itself.
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