There are many reasons girls may twirl their hair. Often, it is just a habit that is hard to break. Some girls do it when they feel nervous, while others do when they are being flirtatious. In some cases, however, hair twirling can be a sign of a mental health condition, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or depression.
Habits can start at a very young age, and hair twirling is a common habit. Often, it begins when a girl is just a toddler and may develop into hair pulling as she grows older. Many girls aren’t aware that they twirl their hair because the habit becomes so ingrained. In most cases, girls grow out of this habit. If they don’t, they may consider seeing a therapist for behavior modification therapy.
Some girls don’t twirl their hair all the time, but seem to do it when they feel nervous or anxious about something. For example, a girl may twirl her hair when she’s meeting someone for the first time, giving an oral report, studying for a test, or worrying about something. This is similar to actions other people may display in such situations, such as foot or finger tapping, pacing, leg shaking, forehead rubbing, and hand wringing. If a person does not grow out of this on her own and it seems particularly problematic, behavior modification may help.
As girls grow into adolescence and begin to like boys and date, hair twirling may become a conscious act. In such cases, it may be done in a flirtatious manner, and it is similar to eye batting, hair flipping, coy smiles, and other flirtatious body language.
Sometimes, hair twirling can be a symptom of clinical depression or abnormal levels of anxiety. In such a case, the girl may benefit from the help of a psychology professional. Therapy may help her to work through issues that contribute to her psychological problems. In some cases, medications may be prescribed to treat these conditions as well. When treatments are successful, the twirling may stop.
Less often, hair twirling may occur as a symptom of OCD. OCD is a condition marked by anxiety, obsessive ideas and thoughts, and repetitive actions. People with this disorder do not want or like their obsessive thoughts or repetitive behaviors, but they simply cannot stop on their own. Medication and behavioral therapy may be used to treat OCD, ending the related repetitive actions.