Special Report

Biting Your Nails and Other Habits That Could Be a Sign of a Serious Problem

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6. You experience road rage: Severe depression

Outbursts of anger and episodes of road rage can mean a lot more than a momentary lapse in judgement. A study of more than 530 patients diagnosed with unipolar major depression found that 54% experienced incidents of overt irritability and anger. They also showed worse impulse control. Such episodes are a sign of more severe and chronic depressive illness. Women are about twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression, but men report higher rates of anger attacks, according to separate research. One possible explanation is that admission of emotional weakness in men is seen as socially unacceptable.

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7. You snore: Heart disease

Snoring is a common sign of sleep apnea, a disorder in which breathing often stops during sleep. Its connection to heart disease is still disputed, but there is plenty of research supporting the theory. A 2013 study found that snoring can cause thickening and abnormalities in the carotid artery, a major blood vessel in the neck supplying blood to the brain, neck, and face.

Snoring may even present a bigger risk than being overweight, smoking, and high cholesterol for thickening or abnormalities in the carotid artery. Separate research shows snoring has been linked to cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, hypertension, and heart attack.

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8. You eat but you’re always hungry: Diabetes

To get the energy you need, the body converts food into glucose. Different body cells then use insulin, a hormone, to convert the glucose to energy. Depending on the type of diabetes, your body may not produce enough insulin or the cells may not use it well. Either way, the result is an accumulation of glucose in the bloodstream as less glucose is converted to energy. The decrease in energy, which makes you feel more tired than usual, tends to cause hunger. However, eating doesn’t solve the problem, because no matter how much you eat, the glucose doesn’t get converted and you only end up with even higher blood sugar levels.

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9. Exercise three times a day, every day: Addiction

Going for an hour-long run at 4 a.m., taking Zumba classes in your lunch break, and doing weight lifting at the gym before you get home is not a healthy fitness approach. Aside from the physical damage — such a routine can leave you chronically tired and susceptible to injuries due to the lack of recovery time — a mental health problem may be hiding.

If skipping any of these is stressful to you and interferes with your everyday functioning, it may qualify as an addiction. It is common among triathletes, runners, and people with eating disorders.

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10. You put on five sweatshirts when it’s warm: Thyroid problems

Thyroid problems can confuse your internal thermostat. An underactive thyroid could result in feeling chills all the time because you have less energy available for body cells to use. On the other hand, an overactive thyroid puts energy producing cells into overdrive, making you sweat. Thyroid produces hormones that regulate thermogenesis, also called heat production, acting both in peripheral and central organs. They influence how much blood vessels dilate, affecting how much heat leaves the body.