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Biting the skin around your nails or repeatedly tapping your foot are common behaviors that can be associated with stress.
Clinical neuropsychologist Lina Marcela Mesa explains how both habits can be analyzed in three ways:
- They are learned habits that help people relax when they are stressed and are not signs of obsessive compulsive disorders, as there are no other behaviors that are otherwise indicative of it.
- They are part of condition related to excessive motor restlessness, which happens to people that are unable to control their impulses when they are inactive. For example, they do not bite the skin around their nails when they dance or eat, but they do when they watch television, read or are on the computer. In this case, in addition to these behaviors, patients also constantly stand up, lift and lower their legs from their seat or shift around in it.
- They are related to anxiety or stress, when people are exposed to pressure in their work or family environment, they may demonstrate these behaviors.
In each case, the neuropsychologist suggests that people seek out professional help to receive the right treatment, which may come in the form of behavioral therapy, where patients are taught to control these habits when they are under stressful situations.
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