Anxiety is one of the many triggers for skin picking. Everyone will experience anxiety from time to time. The demands and stress of life may even make experiencing anxiety more frequent. So it can be tough to tell the difference between everyday anxiety and a clinical anxiety disorder. If anxiety is affecting you or someone you know, it’s important to learn the difference.
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It depends on the type of anxiety disorder, but general symptoms include:
The exact cause of anxiety disorders is unknown, but anxiety disorders -- like other forms of mental illness are not the result of personal weakness, a character flaw, or poor upbringing. As scientists continue their research on mental illness, it is becoming clear that many of these disorders are caused by a combination of factors, including changes in the brain and environmental stress.
Compulsive skin picking will often be carried out after the individual has experienced a high level of tension which has caused an ‘itch’ or ‘urge’ to carry out the behaviour. The skin picking is often accompanied by a feeling of relief or even pleasure due to the reduction in anxiety levels. However, once the damage has been done, those affected will often be left with a feeling of depression or hopelessness. Although the damage that is caused can be very severe, the gratification experienced can lead the individual to carry out CSP again and again.
Skin picking is often associated with anxiety, as it seems that there is a high correlation between people with skin picking and people who suffer from anxiety. An explanation to this might be the fact that people who are prone to picking usually are encouraged to pick when in states of stress, and anxiety does have a stressing effect on body and mind. This relation may be explained in the other direction as well, since a person suffering from skin picking feels insecure, often to the extent of regarding him/herself as a "freak" - a thought which by its nature is fearful and can lead to anxiety.
Treating anxiety may reduce skin picking episodes. Fortunately, much progress has been made in the last two decades in the treatment of people with mental illnesses, including anxiety disorders. Although the exact treatment approach depends on the type of disorder, one or a combination of the following therapies may be used for most anxiety disorders:
Drugs used to reduce the symptoms of anxiety disorders include many antidepressants, certain anticonvulsant medicines and low-dose antipsychotics, and other anxiety-reducing drugs.
Psychotherapy (a type of counseling) addresses the emotional response to mental illness. It is a process in which trained mental health professionals help people by talking through strategies for understanding and dealing with their disorder.
CBT is a particular type of psychotherapy in which the person learns to recognize and change thought patterns and behaviors that lead to troublesome feelings.
A healthy lifestyle is an essential companion to any stress-reduction program. People can enhance their general health and stress resistance by getting regular exercise, eating a diet rich in a variety of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, and avoiding excessive alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.
When practiced regularly, relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, controlled breathing, and visualization can reduce anxiety and increase feelings of relaxation and emotional well-being.