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hair pulling anxiety disorder

Impulse control disorders come in many forms. These behavioral disorders involve an involuntary compulsion to engage in a behavior, such as gambling, binge eating, reckless high-risk acts, skin picking, or stealing. Another type of impulse behavior is hair pulling.

So, what is hair pulling anxiety disorder? Hair pulling disorder, referred to clinically as trichotillomania, involves the irresistible urge to pull one’s hair, from the scalp, the face, or other areas on the body. This repeated hair pulling can result in embarrassing bald spots on the head, or missing eyebrows. Even though the disorder is very distressing to the individual, they are unable to stop pulling out their hair.

Trichotillomania is classified as an anxiety disorder, so treatment measures are aligned with others that help individuals who suffer from anxiety, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or generalized anxiety disorder. This impulse control disorder can be modified and managed using therapeutic interventions, although it is a chronic condition.

What is Hair Pulling Anxiety Disorder?

This mental health condition features an inexplicable urge to pull hair from one’s head, face, or body. The severity of hair pulling anxiety disorder can range from a mild form that is manageable, to a more severe compulsion that can lead to an overwhelming need to continue pulling the hair.

The resulting patchy bald spots or missing eyelashes or eyebrows can be a source of embarrassment and self-consciousness. Some individuals with hair pulling anxiety disorder may go to great lengths to cover their missing patches of hair. Some may become so distressed about how they appear, or by being unable to control the compulsion, that they avoid social situations entirely.

Trichotillomania can result in hair and skin damage over time. The constant picking at the scalp and pulling the hair out can lead to infections and can permanently scar the scalp. Hair picking disorder can also result in the inability for the hair to grow back.

Usually the hair pulling itself is done in private, when the urge can be controlled. The behavior may be intentional, as a method of relieving stress, or the individual may be unaware that they are pulling their hair. Individuals with hair pulling anxiety disorder may also struggle with similar compulsions, such as picking at the skin, chewing the lips, or biting fingernails.

Symptoms of Trichotillomania

The signs and symptoms of hair pulling anxiety disorder include:

  • Pulling out the hair on the head, eyebrows, eyelashes, or other body areas
  • Constantly twirling or tugging at the hair
  • Pulling the hair between the teeth, chewing on the hair
  • Constantly checking the roots of the hair
  • Eating pulled out hair
  • Playing with pulled out hair, rubbing in across the face
  • A sense of stress or anxiety prior to pulling the hair, or when resisting the urge
  • A sense of relief after the hair is pulled
  • Attempting to stop pulling the hair, but unable to do so
  • Experiencing social, school, or workplace distress due to the hair pulling disorder

What Causes Hair Pulling Anxiety Disorder?

Science has not yet determined what causes trichotillomania. However, there are some risk factors that have been identified. These include:

  • Genetics. This disorder may be more prevalent within families.
  • Stress. Traumatic or highly stressful events or situations can trigger trichotillomania.
  • Age. The usual age of onset is between the ages of 10-13.
  • Coexisting disorders. The individual may have a co-occurring depressive or anxiety disorder.

Treatment for Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is diagnosed following an examination and interview with a physician or mental health practitioner. The doctor will assess the level of hair loss and ask questions about what leads to the hair pulling behaviors. This may include questions about feelings of stress or anxiety that precede the hair pulling, and then how the individual feels after they have pulled the hair out. The doctor will also want a mental health history, to determine is there are coexisting mental health disorders involved.

Treatment for hair pulling anxiety disorder involves therapies that will help the individual change their thoughts and behaviors around this compulsive behavior. Therapies might include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Habit reversal training
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy

In some cases, medication may be included in the treatment plan. An antidepressant such as Anafranil has been shown to help patients with trichotillomania. Zyprexa, an atypical antipsychotic, is also prescribed to treat this disorder.

Elevation Behavioral Health is a Luxury Residential Mental Health Center in Los Angeles

Elevation Behavioral Health provides upscale residential mental health services, and treats hair-pulling disorder. The intimate size of our holistic and evidence-based program provides a more attentive clinical staff that will partner with you, guiding you toward healing and recovery from this challenging condition. If you are wondering about hair pulling anxiety disorder, and whether it can be effectively treated, please contact our team for more information about our program at (888) 561-0868.

Anxiety about going to work

The feelings of anxiety do not begin with the morning alarm bell. Nope, the anxiety about going to work is felt throughout the night with fitful, restless sleep. The mere idea of entering the workplace triggers waves of stress that threaten to undermine any effort to be productive and engaged at work, and often result in calling out sick.

Workplace phobia, according to a definition published in Psychology, Health & Medicine, is defined as “a phobic anxiety reaction with symptoms of panic occurring when thinking of or approaching the workplace.” Considering the serious consequences of having anxiety about going to work, this particular phobia can be particularly devastating to not only one’s professional life, but their personal life as well. Being unable to keep a job due to this type of phobia can have far-reaching and deleterious consequences.

This specific source of this type of anxiety has often been lumped in with various other disorders. These include obsessive-compulsive disorder, social phobia, specific phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder. This is due to the features of the workplace phobia disorder, which can be recognized in these other forms of anxiety disorder. Finding a remedy is critical, and will likely involve a combination of therapies to help the individual overcome the dread and fear of going to work.

About Workplace Phobia

Individuals who have anxiety about going to work may exhibit a higher level of psychosomatic symptoms. These are the physical symptoms that can accompany a mental health condition, including gastrointestinal distress, migraines, pain, headaches, and fatigue, and often result in excessive absenteeism due to sick days. In fact one 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that 10% of patients with chronic mental health conditions who sought sick leave authorizations for their physical symptoms suffered from workplace phobia.

Identifying workplace phobia is essential in turning the ship around and overcoming a disorder that is negatively impacting quality of life. Employers also benefit from gaining an understanding of this type of anxiety, as loss of productivity related to paid sick days, having to hire temporary workers, and the impact on fellow coworkers are added costs to the business.

Intense irrational fear emerges when the individual thinks about or attempts to go to work. The triggering stimuli, such as encountering the supervisor or colleague, can cause symptoms like those of a specific phobia, such as:

  • Sweating
  • Hot flashes, chills
  • Trembling
  • Choking sensation
  • Inability to face the trigger (enter the workplace)
  • Chest pain, tightness
  • Dry mouth
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Intensive fear when approaching or considering the workplace
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sensation of butterflies in the stomach
  • Mental confusion, disorientation
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Reduction of symptoms when leaving or avoiding the workplace

When exposed to the workplace trigger, the symptoms are so uncomfortable and frightening that the anxiety about going to work can result in avoidance behaviors, thus the high rates of sick leave.

According to an article published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, There are several subtypes of work phobic, including:

  • Work-related anxiety
  • Work-related panic
  • Work-related social phobia
  • Work-related phobia
  • Work-related generalized anxiety
  • Work-related PTSD

What Causes Workplace Phobia or Workplace-related Anxiety?

Workplace phobia, also referred to as ergophobia, can have various causal factors. Aside from the existence of a disorder such as social anxiety, which can feature work-place anxiety or phobia features, other risk factors might include:

  • Having had a prior work-related experience that was traumatic, such as sexual harassment or bullying
  • Performance-based fears
  • Fear of required oral presentations
  • Ongoing interpersonal issues and conflicts with a superior
  • Family history of social anxiety or phobia
  • Multiple traumas or significant negative life events lead to coping or stress-management issues at work

How to Treat Workplace Phobia

Treating work-related anxiety will revolve around changing the thought distortions that lead to the avoidant behaviors or panic symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that helps patients identify the dysfunctional thought-behavior patterns and guide them toward reframing thoughts to eventually be able to cope when confronting the work-related trigger. Combining CBT with exposure therapies that help desensitize the patient to the triggering event or situation can yield positive results.

Medication also plays a role in treatment for workplace phobia or anxiety. Drugs that reduce anxiety, such as benzodiazepines or beta blockers, may help improve the individual’s ability to function in the workplace once again.

Certain holistic strategies can assist in the reduction of stress or anxiety symptoms. These might include yoga, guided meditation, deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, getting regular exercise, and reducing caffeine intake.

Elevation Behavioral Health Treats Workplace Phobia and Workplace-related Anxiety

Elevation Behavioral Health is a luxury residential mental health program located in Los Angeles, California. The team at Elevation has crafted a highly effective treatment protocol for treating workplace phobia or anxiety, using an integrative approach. This includes the evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy, adjunctive therapies, such as EMDR, and holistic therapies that provide additional coping skills through mindfulness training and meditation. For more information about our program, please contact Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.

Anxiety and Inability to Focus

Anxiety disorder can profoundly impact our lives, beyond the common symptoms of sensitivity to stress. One of the ways anxiety can disrupt our daily lives is through impaired cognitive functioning. Anxiety and inability to focus at work or school appear to be interconnected. As anxiety symptoms escalate, the mind struggles to stay on task.  Short-term memory functions are affected by anxiety as well, causing difficulty in remembering tasks or projects that are due, only adding to the work performance challenges.

Nearly one in five American adults are affected by anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Learning techniques that can help manage the symptoms of anxiety and inability to focus is an essential strategy for individuals struggling with an anxiety disorder.

About Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The most common type of anxiety is called generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, with about 3.1% of the population, or nearly 7 million adults, struggling with this mental health disorder. GAD is characterized by pervasive worrying, so much so that it can impair daily functioning. The energy expended worrying about coulda, woulda, shouldas all day can be very taxing, impacting both energy levels and mental functioning. Individuals with GAD tend to ruminate over events that have already occurred, second-guessing themselves, or they may dwell on upcoming events and worry incessantly about anticipated outcomes. Fear and worry drive this disorder, with symptoms that include:

  • Excessive worry
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Sweating
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Short-term memory problems

How Anxiety Can Affect Concentration

Individuals who struggle with anxiety often experience symptoms of mental confusion, foggy thinking, forgetfulness, and difficulty concentrating. While these symptoms may ebb and flow depending on the day and the stress load, they can be very frustrating for those with anxiety disorder.

Persistently elevated stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, are the cause of the brain fog that plagues individuals with anxiety disorder. This stress response has an adverse effect on cognitive functions, such as anxiety and inability to focus and short-term memory functioning. Poor concentration and lack of focus are common symptoms of anxiety disorder.

5 Steps to Help Manage Anxiety Symptoms

Understanding how anxiety can affect cognitive functioning is the first step in creating a strategy for managing the anxiety and inability to focus. By accepting that you will have to make some adjustments to work or study habits, you can begin to put into practice these new methods and begin to improve your mental focus, leading to more productivity and a boost in self-confidence. Some tips for improving cognitive functioning at work include:

  1. Take short breaks often. Instead of attempting to plow through a large block of focused work time, which will lead to wandering attention and loss of interest in the task, break up the work into smaller segments with short breaks in between.
  2. Make a to-do list. Start each day with a list of items that must be accomplished during the day. Allow for free time during the day as well, to intersperse enjoyable activities that will help keep you from burning out.
  3. Practice mindfulness. Training yourself to stay in the moment can help improve focus and concentration on the project at hand. When the mind begins to wander, rein it back in and refocus on the present moment.
  4. Switch tasks. When you begin to find yourself spacing out and losing focus, switch to a different task. Alternating your attention between the two tasks can help relieve boredom and stimulate better concentration.
  5. Mind your own business. Anxiety can lead to excessive worrying about things outside your control. Too often the mind wanders to unproductive worrying that stokes anxiety and inability to focus. Keep your mind on the task at hand.

Residential Anxiety Treatment for Intensive Therapy

For many people with anxiety disorder, outpatient psychiatric services may provide the means to manage the disorder effectively. Some, however, may find their anxiety disorder worsening over time. When reaching the point where relentless worry causes impaired daily functioning due to anxiety and inability to focus at all, a residential anxiety treatment program may be the best treatment option.

The residential anxiety treatment program can take a deeper look into the issues that may be impacting the anxiety using a more focused approach. Upon intake, a thorough evaluation of the anxiety disorder will provide information, such as a detailed medical and psychiatric history and a review of medications, which can allow the psychiatrist to diagnose the specific features of the anxiety disorder. Using this as a template, an individualized treatment plan can be crafted.

The comprehensive treatment approach will involve several therapeutic sessions during the day, such as individual psychotherapy, group therapy, life skills, family therapy, mindfulness training, deep breathing exercises, yoga, and other relevant therapies. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help individuals who struggle with anxiety and inability to focus by identifying disordered thoughts that may fuel the anxiety.

Anxiety Aftercare Services

It is important to continue to receive aftercare services following a residential program in order to reinforce the new strategies learned in treatment. Outpatient therapy is recommended on a weekly basis, which provides the ongoing support needed as the individual transitions back to their regular daily life. These sessions provide the necessary “tune-ups” when new stressors emerge that can trigger anxiety and psychological setbacks.

Finding a support group is also a beneficial aftercare activity. Being able to discuss daily challenges with others who struggle with anxiety disorder provides valuable peer support and creates a sense that one is not alone with these challenges. Group participants can also learn new techniques from each other for managing daily stressors and improving the quality of life.

Elevation Behavioral Health is a Leading Residential Mental Health Center in Los Angeles

Elevation Behavioral Health provides a proven, evidence-based treatment for the full spectrum of anxiety disorders in a residential setting. Elevation offers a warm, intimate escape from the stressors of daily life that keep your mental health reeling. At Elevation Behavioral Health you can focus your energy and attention on learning new ways to manage anxiety and improve focus. For more information about our program, please contact Elevation today at (888) 561-0868.