Mental Health Support

compulsion to pick

i dont seem to be able to stop picking my nose

i have in the past recognized issues with over thinking and obsessions

i recently had a depressive episode and now on 100mg sertraline which i have been

on for 2 months.

I find it hard to stop the compulsion. the inside of my nose

is raw red and really hurts, my face has become numb. Last night i had to go to bed due to the pain i had inflicted. This is not normally me.

it seems as soon as my mind drifts i find my finger in my nose. It i stop

i automatically move to picking scabs/spots skin on my back at right shoulder.

All this only involves my left arm but affects my right nose, right shoulder.

if i manage to stop it i now find myself picking at spots on my shoulder which are also red raw.

Is it possible i'm doing it for pain and the pain is distracting me from something.

At times its like im not in control.

Although the sertraline has helped i'm finding the side affects which may include this to be grouling.

today i knew what pain i created yesterday, why do i still do it today.

in combat to this if i try mindfulness and awareness then i don't do it, but its hard.

when watching tv is the time i do it. i rarely do it in front of people.

this is a recent thing and has only just started.

i will try to hold my hands together when watching tv see how it goes.

i do have to go to work on Tuesday and im slightly concerned.

During my depressive episode i thought one or two people were plotting against me.

The sertraline has helped to remove the negative thought patterns.

6 Replies

Hello there missycooper

Suggest you return to your doctor. You may wish to discuss CBT or talking therapies, I'm sure he/she will advise you, and also discuss the side effects of Sertraline.

You can download our free guide to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Best wishes


1 like

thanks... i will mention it in my next face to face meeting with psychology person

I have completed a CBT for low mood, but at the moment found it hard to implement.

i have however managed to go back to work after 3 months off. 2 days in so far.


48 Male


when i could not stop bitting my nails i decided to wear a pair of gloves and that made me aware every time i put my finger to my mouth as its so easy to do those things, they become a habit. try wearing gloves and that will help. all the best. love grace xoxoxo


I compulsively pick at my skin when I'm anxious, thinking or seeking a distraction. I've just completed CBT which tackled this and self-esteem issues.

I still haven't managed to stop picking entirely, but a few things have helped me become much more aware of it.

- Keep your nails trimmed short so that you do less damage if you do pick.

- Get a little notebook you can keep with you/near the areas where you spend most time and may pick. Each time you pick, make a line or mark in the notebook. This makes you aware of the picking, which is the start you need to control it.

- If you're like me, you do it absentmindedly, and then feel awful for doing it and damaging your skin. Once you realise you're picking, tell yourself that if you stop now, that's a good thing. Often once I've started picking I think the damage is done and I might as well continue -- stopping at any point is an achievement. Repeat "good" over and over in your head as you stop.

- Try to understand the thoughts in your head when you do pick. I've realised that I can anticipate when/where I'm likely to pick, depending on my mood. e.g. If I'm in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil, I'll get bored and pick. Make sure you have your phone or a newspaper to browse, or a game to play to pass the time. If you start feeling anxious about something, be aware that you might start to pick to self-sooth, and try to remind yourself that picking will only make you more stressed after you've done it.

The hardest thing is developing awareness that you are about to pick or are picking. Once you manage to start doing that, even a little, you'll realise that you're in control and can stop. It's taken me months to get to this stage, and I still pick when I get really stressed. Just don't be too hard on yourself if you struggle, and make sure to reward yourself for not picking. The trick is to identify the underlying reason why you want to pick and become aware enough to know that you won't feel better if you do, and that your time would be better and more enjoyably spent doing something else.

Good luck!


blimey, that's really nice reply, thank you. I will try it

Still managed to pick it all the way home in the car (1 hr drive).....ahhhhhh

There is nothing there, just pain and the compulsion. Even when i realize, it's like im still compelled. I guess this is the closest to feeling out of control.

My life is not the smoothest at the moment but through mindfulness and relaxation

im trying. I did notice today I cant seem to stop touching my nose now and again in front of people lol - so i become aware and stop it

time to cut my nails super short and get the notebook out.

Male 48

1 like

wow, did i write that above.... it happened for sure but not sure when it stopped. Im still on Sertraline and still at work.

Work has changed, i just feel a victim most the time, seems no one trusts me or so much has been removed from my duties that i feel redundant.

I have found through a CT scan i have bronchietasis affecting my upper left lung lobe.

Bascally means i get fatigued and are more susceptible to infections.

The infections cause fever, sweating, migraines, aching muscles and can only be cleared up through antibiotics.

I'm yet to get to the actual cause of this but im guessing this is what led to my depressive episode. I do get more fatigued generally now.

I was thinking soon to start tapering off sertraline 5% every 2 weeks but im fully aware

of what side effects i can get from withdrawal.

Male 48


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