Articles on compulsive behavior

Overcoming Hair Pulling Impulse: Dealing With Trichotillomania

Ms. Pallavi Tomar, Psychologist
Trichotillomania, more commonly known as hair pulling disorder is a psychological condition manifesting as an uncontrollable impulse or urge to pull ones hair out, to the point of noticeable hair loss. Individuals with trichotillomania generally report a sense of self soothing through this hair pulling habit, however the habit itself causes intense feelings of shame and embarrassment in most of them. This condition is more common than it is believed to be as most people fail to recognise this as a disorder and only seek treatment when very obvious bald patches appear. The majority of the patients try to overcome feelings of shame by trying to cosmetically hide their hair loss.  Characteristics of Trichotillomania:The hair pulling may seem a random act or habit. However, each patient typically has a few characteristics associated with this compulsive hair pulling disorder. Identifying the pattern in your behaviour is the first step to treatment.Hair being pulled out or broken can be from any part of the body - the head, face, underarms, genitals etc. Individuals vary in which kind of hair they pull, this may even differ in terms of texture, colour and size of the hair. Some simply pull the hair or break it and throw it away, others may play with it, put it in their mouth etc.Most people describe an increasing sense of discomfort or tension immediately before pulling out the hair, i.e. accompanying the impulse to do so or when trying to resist the hair pulling impulse. The hair pulling or breaking behaviour then provides an immediate sense of relief and relaxation. However, this is generally short lived till the impulse quickly reappears. People generally pull their hair in relatively private spaces and especially when involved in solo activities or when sitting idle, thinking, working or watching television. Most of them report significant decrease in hair pulling when they are out with other people.   A person’s emotional state has an important role to play in their hair pulling impulse. Feelings of anxiety, boredom, frustration and anger etc. Individuals generally observe that when they are disturbed, the hair pulling impulse tremendously increases in frequency. Feelings of anxiety, shame and depression may also be experienced as a consequence of trichotillomania and the subsequent hair loss leading to body image concerns and the inability to stop the impulse. Some people begin to socially isolate themselves too. If you observe any such characteristics associated with your hair pulling it is imperative to be evaluated by a mental health professional. There are specialised techniques that could assist in breaking this habit and reducing the hair pulling impulse. In certain cases, the need for medication may also be evaluated. In psychotherapy, the most effective method found to deal with trichotillomania is a combination of a few cognitive behavioural techniques. The most popular one is Habit Reversal Technique which involves two basic components. It involves awareness training to help the person build greater awareness of when, where and how often they pull their hair. To better identify internal and external triggers that lead to hair pulling impulse and also to identify those conditions that worsen or reduce the symptoms. Subsequently, this information is used to develop and implement other competing or incompatible responses which make it difficult to pull the hair in response to the impulse. Alongside, treatment also involves helping the clients deal better with their anxiety and accompanying feelings of shame or embarrassment.

Obsessive and Compulsive Behaviour Now Curable

Dr. Jimmy Mody, Hypnotherapist
     A SELF-HELP GUIDE:Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD is a medical condition that is related to a biochemical imbalance in the brain.Obsessions are intrusive unwanted thoughts or urges that don’t go away. They are stubbornly repetitive.Compulsions  are the repetitive behaviours that people perform in a vain attempt to rid themselves of the very uncomfortable and unpleasant feelings that the obsessions cause. These compulsive acts may provide immediate relief, but they also reinforce the obsessional thoughts. Doing compulsive acts provides only short-term relief, but then tends to make the obsessions worse, especially over the long run. So, change what you do. Act differently. Break the pattern. A psychological understanding of the emotional content of the thoughts and urges will rarely ever make them go away. Looking for the cause will not help these obsessive thoughts and urges to disappear. You can make these brain chemistry changes only through Behaviour Therapy.  Its not how you feel but what you do that counts.Every time you give in and perform the compulsive act, things will get worse, and the OCD will only get stronger.Take steps to change your behaviour to do something more useful and constructive.Obsessive thoughts and compulsive urges are messages coming to you from a brain that is biochemically imbalanced. They are not real.Changing your behaviour changes your brain. When you change your behaviour in constructive ways, the uncomfortable feelings your brain is sending you begin to fade over time. This makes your responses easier to manage and control.  Its not how you feel but what you do that counts.   

Eating Disorder: Things You Should Know!

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
A harmless remark by an educated parent on the physical attribute of their growing teenage girls resulted in a shocking “anorexia pact” by the duo at the age of 11. Now at the age of 33 and being doctors they don’t lead a normal life. Eating disorders might start at a very early , if not identified and treated can stay with you for life.Anorexia nervosa is one of the most common eating disorder that is associated with abnormally low weight achieved by extreme dieting, fasting and followed by compulsive exercising.  Mostly young girls are afflicted from this disorder especially in the absence of early parental care and support to inculcate healthy eating habits. Eating disorders have been around forever but finally society is accepting the seriousness of this ailment  and encouraging parents, friends to come together and support the person suffering from it.  There is a higher success rate of controlling and reversing it through family and social support .Eating disorders mostly start from home and parents play an extremely critical role in stimulating and curbing them.  Children very closely watch and imitate their parents. If the parents fuss too much about their looks and being thin the kids will imitate them. Similarly if the parents eat a lot of unhealthy food the kids would be inclined towards junk food even when they grow up. Therefore it is mostly parent’s responsibility to inculcate healthy eating habits amongst children.Eating disorder can have serious repercussions on health like weakness, fatigue,  anaemia, heart & kidney problems, osteoporosis, infertility, disruption of sugar levels  and even death. Nature and nurture is equally responsible for this condition. Therefore it is imperative to apply a three pronged approach to dealing with it.First restore the healthy weight of an individual, second to treat the psychological factors that may have caused this situation and lastly ensure there is total support and care to prevent relapse.Healthy Food does not make you fat. Its unhealthy eating patterns like eating too much processed food that only has empty calories and not nutrition. Also controlling the portions even at an early stage is important. This does not mean dieting it means regulating a healthy meal pattern in children where importance is give to a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, dairy and grains. If a healthy food routine is followed the kids will tend to eat less junk as they will be fuller for longer resulting in optimum growth, overall health and better immunity.Also teens suffering from eating disorders tend to be very sensitive and emotional. Its important as a parents need to be more tuned to their emotion needs, provide them that extra affection and care.

What Does Independence Mean to Me?

Ms. Raisa Luther, Psychotherapist
India celebrates its 70th Independence today – this day, India became independent from British colonialism in 1947. The day is celebrated with great fervor throughout the country.But what does independence mean to us at a personal level?Freedom to be meIndividual freedom means that I have choices, without the limits of bias, stigma or social pressure. I can be what I want to be. If I choose a particular career, or a partner, or a hobby, I should have the space and liberty to practice and participate in whatever I choose.At a deeper level, I should be free to grow unrestricted. This is possible only if I can experiment with my choices. Only when I have experienced different things in life, can I make an informed choice and be comfortable with my decisions. Ultimately, I should have the freedom to be me – the real, unhindered me which can be the most fulfilling experience of life.Smelling the rosesModern life is full of stresses. We rush through our day trying to catch up with goals and meet deadlines. In this mad spree, we may lose out on me-time. We need to be able to pause and “smell the roses”. We should not forget the small things in life while pursuing bigger targets. We must remember that big journeys consist of many small steps.We should have the freedom to enjoy the journey – one step at a time.Freedom from dependencyAddiction is a real and present danger. According to WHO, it afflicts 10% of the population. For those trapped in alcoholism, drug addiction and other compulsive behaviors, it can be a miserable and deadly life.Freedom from addiction is possible. It requires guts and courage. It needs an effort that is herculean but worth it. It needs support – from the family and community.To achieve freedom from dependency, seek professional help. It’s there – you just need to reach out.May you have a free and joyous life!

Effects of Health Compromising Behaviors

Ms. Purvi Chottai, Psychologist
Health compromising behaviours are habitual in nature and hence difficult to treat. These behaviours have a major impact on the social and psychological functioning adversely. It is very important to understand the causal factors of these health compromising behaviours and counter them effectively. Such actions include smoking, drinking, drugging, practicing unsafe sex, etc. Peer pressure is one of those reasons that is heavily tied to continue the prevalence of the health compromising behaviours. Adolescents are at special risks to be adhering to these vulnerable situations and therefore, increasing the probability of several health issues at a younger age. These health behaviours are also intimately bound up with the self-presentation process - to appear “cool” or “sophisticated." Various risky thrill-seeking behaviours that enhance pleasure and apparently help individuals to cope with stressful situations are also a part of health compromising behaviours. These unhealthy coping strategies develop over a period of time and occur in a process for example, an individual encounters with alcohol, becomes susceptible to it, experiments with it, engages regularly, and later becomes physically and psychologically dependent on it. As a result of engaging in such health compromising behaviours, individuals are likely to have major conflict with their families, friends, school, workplaces, etc. Those with a penchant for deviant behaviours, with low self esteem, problematic family relations often breed such behaviours. However, with professional help, these behaviours can be tackled and modified into health-seeking behaviours, thereby helping the individuals with improving their physical, mental, social, emotional well-being and hence improving their quality of life.

What Indian Parents Should Know About Internet Addiction in Adolescents

Dr. Aditya Gupta, Psychiatrist
Internet use have been increased markedly not only in India but also worldwide in the last decade. In India, use of internet is enormous, especially in the young population.There have been growing concerns worldwide for what has been labeled as “internet addiction” which refers to pathological compulsive internet use.Symptoms of Internet Addiction/Warning SignsIncreasing preoccupation with, and investment of  resources (e.g., time,money, energy) on  Internet-related activitiesLoses track of time while online, Sacrifices needed hours of sleep to spend time onlineUnpleasant feelings (e.g., depression,anxiety, loneliness, emptiness) when not onlineNegative impact on work/school performance, Spends time online in place of homework or chores Problems develop in existing relationshipsDifficulty in forming new offline relationshipsPrefers to spend time online rather than with friends or familyBecomes agitated or angry when online time is interruptedBecomes irritable if not allowed access to the InternetLies about amount of time spent online or "sneaks" online when no one is aroundSeems preoccupied with getting back online when away from the computerLoses interest in activities that were enjoyable before he or she had online accessPsychological impactLike addiction to drugs and alcohol, the Internet offers children and adolescents a way to escape painful feelings or troubling situations. They sacrifice needed hours of sleep to spend time online and withdraw from family and friends to escape into a comfortable online world that they have created and shaped. Children who lack rewarding or nurturing relationships or who suffer from poor social and coping skills are at greater risk to developing inappropriate or excessive online habits. Because they feel alone, alienated, and have problems making new friends, they turn to invisible strangers in online chat rooms looking for the attention and companionship missing in their real lives. They may come from families with significant problems, and they cope with their problems by spending time online. The skill to develop face to face relationship is lost.Those addicted to Internet have high incidence of anxiety disorders and depression.What parents can doTechnology will continue to advance and is not going away, so we’d better learn to ride the wave. Parents should work with their child to establish clear boundaries for limited Internet usage.Allow perhaps an hour per night after homework, with a few extra weekend hours.Stick to your rules and remember that you’re not simply trying to control him/her - you are working to free them of a psychological dependence. It is important for every parent to learn the terms (both technical and popular) and be comfortable with the computer, at least enough to know what your child is doing online.They should also reassure their children that they are not criticizing him or hampering his privacy but are concerned with the consequences of pathological internet use.

Yoga Poses for Beginners

Dr. Yogesh Kumar, Ayurveda
VajrasanaImproves circulation in the lower abdomen. Prevents stiff knees and ankle joints.Sit down, stretch out the legs and keep them together. Fold one leg at the knee joint and place the sole under the buttock of the same side by turning it upward. Place the other sole in the same way. Make a comfortable seat, keeping the knees close together. Place the palms on the respective knees; keep the spine straight. Drop the eye-lids. Relax the body and feel the breathe.BhujangasanaIt builds a healthy upper spine. Relieves pains at the upper spine to overwork. It adjusts the spinal column if there is any slight displacement. It can cure the tendency of flatulence immediately after the meals.Lie on the check, resting forehead on the ground. Keep the palms on the ground by the side of the chest. Lift the head. Take it back fully. Raise the upper part of the body up to the naval. Gaze upwards. Maintain this position for a few breaths. Come down gradually in the reverse order. Rest and relax.ShalabhasanaFine practice to build up a healthy pelvis and abdomen. Keep the hips in shape and strengthens the muscles of the back. The tendency of feeling flatulent a short while after the meals is cured by a regular practice.Line on the chest with the chin on the ground. Keep the hands by the side of the body, closing the fingers and keeping the fist facing upwards. Raise both the legs backwards and upwards according to capacity. Do not bend the knees. Breathing should be normal. Retain this position according to capacity. Come down slowly and relax.DhanurasanaBuilds strong abdomen and elastic recti muscles. The spine is bent back to the maximum and as a result, circulation in the spine is improved and the spine becomes more elastic. Certain types of pains in the back and lumber regions and rigidity of the spine can be cured.Lie prone with the chin on the ground and hands by the side of the body. Bend the knees and catch the ankles. Try to get the legs back and up with the head and the chest up. Secure a greater curve and get the pressure on the abdomen. Retain the posture for a few breaths. Relax the legs and let both the extremities come down on the ground slowly.HalasanaMaintains elasticity of the spine and keeps the spine nerves in perfect health. Develops strong abdominal muscles. Takes care of the thyroid. Dyspepsia, flatulence and constipation can be treated by this pose. Enlarged liver and spleen* can be reduced by this pose. It is also useful in certain types of diabetes.Lie on the back with hands stretched by the side of the body. Raise the legs gradually and slowly up to 90*. Move the legs towards the head till you touch the ground with toes. Rest a few breathes. Move toes further away from head, breath. Again rest. Bend the hands and prepare a finger lock encircling the head. Move the toes again further away as you can. Rest. Maintain this and then come back to the original position in the reverse order and relax.PaschimottanasanaIt is fine posterior stretch. It builds strong abdominal muscles. The lumbo sacral region gets richer supply of blood and pelvic organs are toned up. Constipation, dyspepsia, seminal weakness and back pain can be treated.Sit down with legs stretched out. Bend index fingers to form hooks. Catch hold of the corresponding big toes with these hooks. Bend the upper part of the body from trunk inwards and let the forehead touch the knees with the elbows to the ground. Relax and retain the pose for some time. Come back to the original position by taking the head up and relieving the hold of the toes.SarvangasanaMaintains healthy thyroid and consequently the whole body remains healthy. It influences sex glands beneficially. Immediate old age, seminal weakness, dyspepsia and constipation can be effectively controlled and treated.ShavasanaRemoves all types of mental, physical tensions and rejuvenates the mind and the body. Insomnia and hypertension can be treated. Rehabilitation of patients who have had a heart attack can be rapidly secured by its practice over long period.Lie on back keeping little distance between the legs with hands slightly away from the body. Keep whole body comfortable position. Drop eye-lids relax. Focus the mind on movement of air that accompanies the breath and feel experience the touch of it on soft palate and the walls of the nose. Do not curb the mind. Maintain it for 5-15 minutes.

Practical Ways to Improve Your Eating Habits

Ms. Raminder Kaur Deshmukh, Dietitian/Nutritionist
How to improve your eating habits ?You are what you eat, and this rings true for everyone. what you eat impacts your health the most, much more than any other thing. what you eat also depend on your environment and the people you share your life with. however, cultivating healthy eating habits does not require a lot of effort. making small changes to your daily habits and lifestyle is the only way to improve your eating habits permanently. diets only provide temporary help.Here are some changes that can be made to improve your eating habits:Incorporate more fruits, vegetables and whole grains into your diet while eliminating unhealthy foods.If you are working or studying away from home, try to pack healthy lunch and snacks for yourself to avoid eating unhealthy food daily.Don't eat straight from the packet- use a plate or bowl to control the portion size that you are eating.Don't delay or skip meals.Cut down your consumption off aerated drinks and sodas.Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day. Drink water after waking up and before sleeping. being dehydrated may make you feel like you are hungry, so it is important to  stay hydrated.Have home-made fruit and vegetable juices.Eat 5-6 small healthy meals every 2-3 hours, every day, instead of having a few big ones. this regulates your blood sugar level and your metabolism.Don't  skip breakfast instead make it more rich with complex carbohydrates and proteins so it can provide you with energy to get through the day. Try to include the following as your morning breakfast, oats porridge , eggs on multi-grain toast or daliya with sprouts.Avoid artificial sweeteners in processed foods.Eat slowly as it takes 20 minutes for your brain to register if you are full or not. Eating to fast leads to overeating, so chew slowly to digest your food better and control how much you eat.Use a smaller plate to control your portion sizes and avoid overeating.Know your cravings and do not snack when you are emotional. it is said that you crave crunchy and savory food when you are stressed, frustrated or lonely. figure out what you crave and replace them with healthier alternatives.Do not eat mindlessly, concentrate on your food instead of watching TV or playing with your phone to avoid overeating.