We know how impairing BFRBs can be but know little about risk factors that lead to them. Some research points to genetics, others to neurological malfunctions, while still others to psychological causes with little to no research about the family environment and its role in the development of BFRBs like skin picking disorder.
There is already evidence showing that children of anxious or depressed parents tend to experience anxiety and depression because of genetic and environmental factors. Often, people with skin-picking disorder also have anxiety or depression but the evidence is less clear when trying to figure out of the anxiety causes the skin-picking or vice versa. While genetics play a large role in the mental health disorders people develop, the environment is also a strong factor in that it not only has an epigenetic effect but also a cognitive and behavioral effect. Epigenetics is the influence of the environment on gene activation and explains why twins raised apart have different diseases and mental health disorders despite having the same genes.
Quality of life is an important concept in mental and physical health research. It is a subjective assessment of whether a person is satisfied with their life and how they rate their overall well-being. This measure helps researchers and mental health providers understand how people with mental health disorder view their personal experience. For example, someone could have a diagnosis with skin picking disorder, but rate their quality of life very high because they either learned to live with it or can manage it to their satisfaction. Quality of life measures also helps show progress throughout treatment. Someone who comes to therapy for help with a mental health issue may take a quality of life assessment and after several weeks or months of treatment take another one and compare the two results. Not only does it demonstrate progress over time, but it also indicates how a person feels about their life overall.
In a recent study, researchers at the University of Chicago wanted to learn the clinical, personality and cognitive measures associated with quality of life for young adults, focusing on impulsivity and compulsivity. The University of Chicago does a lot of research on body-focused repetitive behaviors, substance abuse, and problem gambling, all of which are considered compulsive or impulsive disorders.
One of the diagnostic criteria for excoriation disorder is picking at one’s skin until wounds form. When wounds heal, they form scars which often do not go away. However, new technology can help reduce or eliminate scars. This article will talk about scars, how you can prevent them, and how to treat them.
Scars can be ugly and draw attention where attention is not desired. However, part of preventing scars from occurring as well as treating scars is understanding their biological purpose. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, scars form when your body repairs damage to the skin. And like sealing something with duct tape, the body makes the repair thicker than the original skin, especially if the wound goes through the top layer of skin. Some scars are colored a bit differently than the surrounding skin; some are flat, indented or raised. New scars usually form with a red or pink color, but as it ages, it may turn a lighter or darker color than your skin. When your body makes a lot of extra wound-covering tissue, the scar becomes bigger than the original wound while sunken scars are those caused by inflammatory wounds such as acne or chickenpox. When inflammation causes blemishes, it also destroys the skin’s collagen.
The human brain loves shortcuts. First impressions, stereotyping, schemas, and habits are all ways the brain demonstrates laziness. Another way to consider habits is that they free up brain resources that can be used for other things. In many cases, these shortcuts are helpful such as detecting dangerous places or people, helping us understand the world around us, and staying healthy. However, in some cases, habits get out of control and become stronger than our ability to stop them. The negative aspects of strong habits can be seen in people who try to quit smoking or stop eating sugar, and to some extent, body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs). While BFRBs are more compulsory than habitual, researchers are trying to distinguish when a habit becomes a compulsion. If they can find that mechanism, then perhaps they can interrupt it or fix it thereby reversing the compulsion.
photo courtesy of The TLC Foundation http://www.bfrb.org/ecap
The TLC Foundation is now accepting applications for its Early Career Award Program (ECAP). ECAP is a mentorship and career development opportunity that supports rising stars in the field of body-focused repetitive behaviors, including trichotillomania (hair pulling) disorder, excoriation (skin picking)disorder, and related conditions.
A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology suggests another approach BFRB treatment is quite effective. Results indicate that the CoPs treatment model was significantly effective in 74% of the 54 participants indicating this approach is a good option for people with BFRBs to try. Very promising!
CoPs is short for cognitive psychophysiological model, which is based on the science that combines cognitive science and physiology. Cognitive science is the study of thinking and knowing; psychophysiology is a way to measure psychological states using physical processes. One of the most common ways to do that is to measure the central nervous system (CNS) and autonomic nervous system (ANS) responses through heart rate, galvanic skin response, or sweating. With the widespread availability of brain imaging, cognitive psychophysiology can now measure psychological states using fMRI and other imaging techniques.
While perusing mental health-related news for potential blog postings, I noticed multiple announcements regarding transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Upon reading the press release from Achieve TMS which states “There are no systemic side effects, and patients are able to safely drive to school or work immediately afterward,” a fearful question from my inner skeptic popped into my head: Does anyone remember lobotomies?
Discovered during research on Parkinson’s disease, the FDA approved deep brain stimulation (DBS) for use in the treatment of treatment-resistant depression and now other forms of it are approved for OCD. It may not be long until variations of these treatments become available for other disorders such as dermatillomania and other BFRBs because they are included in the OCD spectrum of disorders despite significant differences.