Pulling on beard OCD? - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 01-01-2020, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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Pulling on beard OCD?

I notice when I'm sitting at the computer and/or thinking about something either at work or at home I stroke my beard which isn't that uncommon. But I also have this thing where I keep feeling my beard hairs and if there's any that feel rough or just out of place, I sometimes pull them out. I guess it's an OCD thing, but I don't like when certain hairs on my beard feel to long or out of place.

When I had longer hair I used to do the same thing, not pulling out my hair, but I'd keep running my fingers through my hair, and if any felt too long I'd cut them.

I guess it's a form of OCD, I don't know. But I've heard beards don't grow as well if you feel them constantly, since the hairs don't grow as long.

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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 01-01-2020, 07:13 PM
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It's called trichotillomania it's a body focused repetitive behaviour (disorder,) commonly co-morbid with anxiety disorders, PTSD, depression and OCD:


They have some things in common with OCD and addiction/impulse control issues, there are some neurological differences and similarities between trichotillomania and OCD:


Anxiety, depression and obsessive–compulsive disorder are more frequently encountered in people with trichotillomania.[7][22] Trichotillomania has a high overlap with post traumatic stress disorder, and some cases of trichotillomania may be triggered by stress. Another school of thought emphasizes hair pulling as addictive or negatively reinforcing, as it is associated with rising tension beforehand and relief afterward.[7] A neurocognitive model — the notion that the basal ganglia plays a role in habit formation and that the frontal lobes are critical for normally suppressing or inhibiting such habits — sees trichotillomania as a habit disorder.[7]

Abnormalities in the caudate nucleus are noted in OCD, but there is no evidence to support that these abnormalities can also be linked to trichotillomania.[7] One study has shown that individuals with trichotillomania have decreased cerebellar volume.[7][23] These findings suggest some differences between OCD and trichotillomania.[7] There is a lack of structural MRI studies on trichotillomania.[7] In several MRI studies that have been conducted, it has been found that people with trichotillomania have more gray matter in their brains than those who do not suffer from the disorder.[24]

It is likely that multiple genes confer vulnerability to trichotillomania.[7] One study identified mutations in the SLITRK1 gene.[7][25]

Although Trichotillomania is listed under ‘Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Related Disorders’ in the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), similarly to skin picking, it is not exactly the same as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and might better be listed as a ‘body-focused repetitive behaviour’, in fact it was once considered as an impulse control disorder.

So whilst there are some compulsive and ritualistic similarities between the two there are also important differences. Primarily, OCD is driven by unwanted intrusive thoughts (the obsessions), for example fears of bad things happening, where compulsions are carried out in an attempt to prevent bad things happening. Whereas Trichotillomania is characterised primarily by body-focused repetitive behaviour (pulling at hair) to reduce tension/stress, or even out of habit, rather than being initiated by an unwanted intrusive thought.

People with the problem feel an intense urge to pull their hair out and they experience growing tension until they do. After pulling their hair out, they feel a sense of relief. Sharing similarities with skin picking disorder, a person may sometimes pull their hair out in response to a stressful situation, or it may be done without really thinking about it.
Using scissors is weird though, another poster brought that up today coincidentally and you're honestly both the only examples of that I've come across. Most people just pull out hair without thinking that much. But the more thought you put into it and the more it's linked to presentation concerns, the more OCD like it seems imo (or BDD.)

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