Extreme Nail Biting To Be Classified As Psychiatric Condition

Clinically severe cases indicate a psychiatric disorder, not just a bad habit

By Alexandra Ward
|  Tuesday, Dec 4, 2012  |  Updated 2:03 PM CDT
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Extreme Nail Biting To Be Classified As Psychiatric Condition

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In its 2013 revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the American Psychiatric Association has reclassified extreme nail biting as a form of obsessive compulsive disorder.

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For some people, biting your nails isn’t just a bad habit anymore—it’s a full-blown psychiatric disorder.

The 2013 revision of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) is expected to include severe nail biting as an obsessive compulsive-related condition if it is "sufficiently severe to cause clinically significant distress or impairment," according to the APA.

It was previously in the “not otherwise classified” category, the Toronto Star reported.

"As with hair pulling and skin picking, nail biting isn't a disorder unless it is impairing, distressing and meets a certain clinical level of severity," Carol Mathews, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, told Women’s Health. "That is not the vast majority of nail biters; it is a very small minority of people."

Nail biting is considered clinically severe if people are getting infections or physically damaging their hands, Mathews said.

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