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Physical Compulsions Linked to Stress

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Over 45 million British people have taken a leave of absence from work in the last three years due to symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression showing the impact of such conditions on society today. Many sufferers show physical side-effects such as digestive problems or headaches but there are some little-known symptoms that you may not be aware are stress-related. The following are examples of habits or compulsions that may cause long-term physical damage.


Hair Pulling
Pulling your hair out or chewing the ends of it is often a subconscious reaction to something which is making you feel anxious. The behaviour is impulsive and the sufferer may also pull out hair on the head, eyebrows or eyelashes. This often results in feelings of relief. The underlying stress can be caused by several factors, but one of the most common is financial-related stress, particularly in older people who may struggle after retirement. You may need to seek help and find other strategies to cope with money problems which may ease the physical manifestations and prevent long-term consequences to your body.  


Teeth Grinding
Grinding or chattering the teeth is a compulsion which can occur during the day but more commonly occurs at night, during sleep. Research shows that there is a link between teeth grinding during sleep and stressors such as physical or work problems. Tooth grinding may cause headaches, jaw and facial pain and degradation or damage to the teeth. Inflammation of the gums is also a side-effect but these symptoms can be prevented by use of a mouth guard and appropriate dental advice. You may also need help in managing your stress.


Skin Picking
Many instances of skin picking go unreported due to feelings of shame or embarrassment from the individual. Stress and anxiety can cause someone to pick their nails, the skin around the nails, skin or scars forming on the body or they may pick or bite the lips and gums. They may pick or bite using their teeth. This will cause the skin to bleed and scar and can potentially damage the teeth if they are used to bite excessively. Finding out what triggers this behaviour with a medical professional can help you to avoid it.
Symptoms like these often only occur during periods of high stress or anxiety but can last indefinitely and have a long-term impact on the body. You can prevent excessive impact on your teeth from these behaviours by getting appropriate dental advice.


Pearl Dental Clinic is open 7 days a week from 9am to 9pm. You can book an appointment by calling us on 0208 547 9997 or emailing us or booking an appointment online


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