Compulsive habit disorders

Conditions such as OCD, BDD and other anxiety disorders, include characteristic behaviours which the sufferer feels compelled to do, otherwise the anxiety seems to mount up to uncontrollable levels.  Similarly, conditions such as compulsive skin picking or hair pulling, are characterised by such compulsive, sometimes almost automatic, behaviours. 

When done in excess over longer periods, other regular behaviours, such as eating, sexual behaviour, or exercise, can lead to a feeling of loss of control.  One can feel trapped and addicted to the behaviour, as one cannot stop it, or perform it at a healthy frequency or intensity. These conditions are essentially behaviour addictions, similar to say gambling or substance addiction. In the brain, the neuro-chemicals released in behaviour addictions are similar to those released in substance addictions (dopamine and endorphins).

Many compulsive or addictive behaviours involve an interaction between thoughts, feeling and behaviours. CBT has developed models of compulsive behaviours, as well as more classical (substance-related) addiction treatment plans.

Dr TOM G WERNER  Psychiatrist & CBT-Therapist