There are many similar nervous habits: biting nails or lips, twirling hair, scratching cuts, picking cuticles, etc. It's often with OCD. These conditions are also called: "body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRB)".
I just came across some posts from the internet, and these stood out:
"I tried this for years and it just doesn't work at all. Try taking a CALCIUM supplement and you won't be able to bite your nails, you just can't make yourself do it.
Nail biting is your body cannibalising itself when you have a CALCIUM DEFICIENCY. I finally stopped biting my nails after 35 years quite by chance after taking a CALCIUM supplement for something else."
Q: "My 4yr old niece twirls her hair right over her right ear to the point she causes knots and eventually twirls her hair out. She hands you chunks of hair. Short of shaving her bald, what can we do to help her with this nervous habbit?"
A: "Hi L.,I had a similar problem for most of my life. It was embarassing especially if someone called attention to it.
I think my problem was a VITAMIN D or CALCIUM DEFICIENCY. I started taking CALCIUM MAGNESIUM for another issue and realized one day that I no longer wanted to pull out or twirl my hair. It took quite awhile, but it would be extremely unpleasant to me to do that now."
I suspect it was the magnesium that helped her, as it, along with the B Complex Vitamins, is essential to handling stress calmly and smoothly. Magnesium has helped people with anxiety, panic attacks, depression, you name it.
"Calcium and magnesium are important to prevent nervous tension. They relax a tense and overwrought nervous system."
"Adrenaline not only activates the SNS, but is also a focusing hormone, forcing us to focus on any possible "danger" at the expense of anything else. It causes us to "ruminate". Thus excess adrenaline production also lies at the root of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)."
ANXIETY AND THE AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM
By Jurriaan Plesman BA(Psych), Post Grad Dip Clin Nutr
Magnesium calms the adrenal glands:
"Best of all, the adrenal surges at 2 a.m. stopped as soon as I began taking elevated magnesium doses. Now most nights when I wake up with night sweats I can at least get right back to sleep."
There is a good online article called "SKIN PICKING AND NAIL BITING: RELATED HABITS" By Fred Penzel, Ph.D.
In it, he says that the B-vitamin INOSITOL has worked in a number of cases.
He also says:
"Therapy for these disorders consists of two parts. The first, is Habit Reversal Training (HRT), a four-step process which teaches you awareness of your habits, how to relax, how to breathe and center yourself, and to perform a competing and opposing muscle response...."
"The second part is known as Stimulus Control (SC). Skin picking and nail biting are a complex behaviors, with many different inputs. SC is a behavioral treatment that seeks to help sufferers first identify, and then eliminate, avoid, or change the particular activities, environmental factors, mood states, or circumstances that have become associated with, and that trigger picking or pulling. The goal here, is to consciously control these triggers that lead to the undesirable behaviors, and to create new learned connections between the urges new non-destructive behaviors....."
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