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Compulsive or Impulsive Behaviours

About Compulsive or Impulsive Behaviours

Compulsive or impulsive behaviours are recurring behaviours that cause distress and/or limit one’s social, work or academic functioning.  Despite attempts to stop the behaviours, people continue to engage in them and feel unable to stop. Often loved ones are critical or try to encourage one to stop, this can lead to relationship difficulties and feeling ashamed and alone with these struggles.  These behaviours are often mindless and feel unconscious, but generally offer a soothing or calming feeling during or after engaging in them.  After the soothing effects, people often feel shame and guilt at the lack of control they have over their behaviours. 


Take inventory of your symptoms. The following are common types of compulsive/impulsive behaviours: 


  • Hair Pulling a.k.a Trichotillomania – recurring pulling out of one’s hair which results in hair loss. Hair pulling can be on various body parts: head, eyebrows, eyelashes, legs, etc. 
  • Skin Picking a.k.a. Excoriation – recurring skin picking which results in trauma to the skin. 
  • Nail Biting – biting nails and surrounding skin.