Self-harm: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Non-suicidal self-injury, often referred to simply as self-injury, is an intentional act of harming one’s own body, such as cutting or burning oneself, in order to cope with painful emotions such as anger and depression. People who engage in this unhealthy behavior are at high risk for suicide, but it usually does not mean they want to end their lives. This may be because people who self-harm believe that self-harm is enough to cope with their emotional distress, so they feel no need to kill themselves.

Self-injury may bring a temporary sense of calm and excitement in the moment, but it is often accompanied by feelings of shame and can resurface painful emotions and even lead to fatal behaviors. The arms, legs and torso are common targets for self-harm, but any part of the body can be used to harm themselves, and people who self-harm may use more than one method to harm themselves.

The average person is depressed and may have the urge to self-mutilate, but they will only do it a few times. However, for people who really need psychological help, self-mutilation can evolve into a long-term repetitive behavior. And although it is rare, some young people may self-harm in public or in groups to show solidarity or to show others that they are suffering.

In addition, self-harm often occurs in private and is done in a controlled or ritualized manner, leaving scars on the skin. Common ways include:

  1. Cut or scratched with a sharp object
  2. Scratch
  3. Burn yourself with a lit match, cigarette, or sharp object
  4. Use a sharp instrument to cut out words or symbols on the skin
  5. Injured
  6. Pierce the skin with a sharp object
  7. Pulling hair
  8. Interfere with wound healing

According to statistics, this disturbing phenomenon is particularly common in developed countries such as the United States and Western Europe. Women account for 60% of those who engage in self-harm, and about 50% of them begin self-harm around the age of 14 and continue into their 20s. If you have any questions, please discuss with your doctor for more information.

Symptoms of self-harm

  1. Have scars, new cuts, scratches, bruises or other injuries on your body
  2. There will be a burning sensation in areas with excessive friction
  3. Often have sharp objects on your hands
  4. Wear long sleeves or pants even in hot weather
  5. Difficulties in interpersonal relationships
  6. Persistent questions about self-identity, such as “Who am I?” and “What am I doing here?”
  7. Erratic, impulsive, and unpredictable behavior and emotions
  8. Feeling helpless, hopeless, or worthless

There may be symptoms not listed above, if you have any questions about symptoms, please consult your physician.

Bandages on wrists after suicide

When should you see a doctor?

  1. If you are hurting yourself, or have thoughts of hurting yourself, even slightly, seek help, as any form of self-harm is a sign of a larger issue that needs to be addressed.
  2. If you have a friend or loved one who self-harmes, you may be shocked and scared, but please take all talk of self-harm seriously and encourage them to seek medical attention, as the damage caused by self-harm is too great for the person who self-harms to cope with alone. , even though you may feel like you’re giving away their secrets.
  3. If it occurs in a child, first consult a pediatrician or other medical professional, who can provide an initial evaluation or make a referral to a psychiatrist. Never yell at or threaten children, but express concern when appropriate.
  4. If it happens to teenagers, it is recommended that they talk to friends, parents, teachers, school counselors or any trusted adult about their feelings and seek psychological treatment.

When should you seek emergency assistance?

If you or someone around you is seriously injured due to self-injury, the injury may be life-threatening, or you think the person who self-injured may be injured or commit suicide, please call the local emergency number immediately. If you are having suicidal thoughts, consider the following options:

  1. Consult a psychiatrist
  2. Connect with people you trust
  3. Contact suicide prevention centre

Reasons for self-harm

Most people engage in self-harm in response to suffocating emotional problems, which may be caused by:

  1. Social problems: such as being bullied, having difficulties at work or school, poor relationships with friends or family, and sexual orientation issues. Or it may be the desire to meet social expectations that creates uncontrollable emotions. Self-harm can also occur in conjunction with antisocial behavior, such as behaving badly at school or getting into trouble with the police.
  2. Trauma: For example, physical sexual abuse, death of a close family member or friend, miscarriage.
  3. Psychological reasons: For example, anxiety, depression, rumination, or feeling that there is a voice in the mind telling them to harm themselves. It is also possible that the person has lost his or her identity due to not being separated from family and friends, or has developed borderline personality disorder (Borderline personality disorder).

These issues can all lead to intense feelings of anger, hopelessness, and self-hatred. People who self-harm may use self-harm to release these pent-up emotions because they don’t know who to turn to for help.

Risk factors for self-harm

There are many risk factors that may lead someone to self-harm, such as:

  1. During adolescence:
    Although people of other ages can self-harm, self-harm often occurs during adolescence because of greater emotional instability and increased exposure to peer pressure, loneliness, and conflicts with parents or other authority figures. risk of occurrence.
  2. Have friends who self-harm:
    People who have friends who self-harm are more likely to start self-harming.
  3. Problems in life:
    Some people who self-harm usually have experienced trauma in their lives. They may live in unstable family situations, have questions about their identity or sexuality, or be marginalized in groups.
  4. Mental health issues:
    People who self-harm are more critical and critical of themselves than the average person, and are less able to problem-solve. In addition, people with certain mental disorders are particularly vulnerable to self-harm, such as borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and eating disorders.
  5. Excessive drinking or drug use:
    Under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is easy to cause self-harm.

Diagnosis and treatment of self-harm

The following information is not a medical diagnosis. If you want further information, please consult your doctor at any time.

  1. How is self-harm diagnosed?

    There is currently no diagnostic test for self-injury, and doctors primarily look at physical and mental conditions to assess it. Self-injury may require assessment by a psychiatrist with experience in treating self-injury, and a counselor can assist in assessing whether the patient has other mental illnesses related to self-injury, such as depression or a personality disorder. In this case, the physician or counselor may use other tools to diagnose, such as questionnaires or psychological tests.

    It is important to note, however, that despite seeking medical help, family or friends may continue to notice that the patient continues to self-harm. Or during a return visit, the doctor may discover new scars and wounds.
  2. How to treat self-harm?

    There is currently no best way to treat self-harm, but the most important first step is to tell others about your psychological condition. Although it may be embarrassing, it is recommended that patients talk to someone they trust, such as a friend, relative, physician, spiritual leader, or school personnel.

    Treatment depends on the individual problem and any related mental illness you may have. If possible, it is best to seek help from a psychologist with experience in treating self-harm. And treating self-harm can take time, effort, and a desire to recover.

    Psychological counseling

    The therapeutic effects of psychological counseling include:
    • Identify and manage underlying issues that trigger self-harm behaviors
    • Learn to use better techniques to deal with distress and adjust emotions
    • Learn how to improve your self-image
    • Skills in developing and improving interpersonal relationships and social skills
    • Develop healthy problem-solving skills
  3. In addition, the following types of psychotherapy may also be helpful:
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): helps patients identify unhealthy negative thoughts and behaviors and replace them with healthy, positive thoughts and behaviors.
    • Dialectical behavioral therapy: A type of CBT that also teaches patients behavioral skills to help them get through pain, regulate emotions, and improve relationships with others.
    • Psychodynamic psychotherapy: Under the guidance of a therapist, you use self-examination to examine your past experiences and uncover the root causes of interpersonal problems by unearthing hidden memories.
    • Mindfulness therapy: can help patients learn to live in the present moment and appropriately feel the thoughts and behaviors of those around them to reduce their own feelings of anxiety and depression, thereby improving their health.
    • In addition to individual therapy, you can also try family or group counseling.
  4. Medical treatement

    There are currently no medications specifically designed to treat self-harm, but if you are diagnosed with a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, your doctor may recommend antidepressants or other medications to treat the underlying medical condition associated with self-harm. Feelings of wanting to hurt myself.
  5. Admission to a psychiatric hospital

    If the injury is severe or recurring, your doctor may recommend hospitalization or trying a day care program to receive treatment for your mental illness. Hospitalization is usually short-term and provides a safe environment and more intensive treatment until the crisis is over.
You are not the storm that rages inside you

Life adjustment and home therapy for self-injury

Here are some ways to help self-harm:

  1. Stick to your treatment plan and take your medications as directed.
  2. Recognize situations or feelings that may trigger self-harm, develop other soothing or distracting methods, and seek support plans to prepare for the next time you feel the urge to self-harm.
  3. Keep the phone number of your physician or psychiatrist with you and tell him or her of any incidents involving self-harm. You can also find a trusted family member or friend to serve as an emergency contact so that you can call the next time you have thoughts or behaviors of self-harm.
  4. Learn to take care of yourself, learn how to relax through exercise, and how to eat healthy.
  5. If you have insomnia, please consult your doctor, as this can seriously affect self-injurious behavior.
  6. Avoid alcohol and drugs as they can affect the ability to make good decisions and put a person at risk of self-harm.
  7. If you are injured or require medical treatment, take appropriate care of the wound.
  8. Do not share tools used for self-harm as this increases the risk of contracting infectious diseases.

You may contact the following platform:

  1. Suicide Prevention UK
    Suicide Prevention UK
    Suite 601
    179 Whiteladies Road,
    Bristol, BS8 2AG.
    Tel: 0800 689 5652
  2. Grassroots Suicide Prevention
    Grassroots Suicide Prevention
    113 Queens Rd
    BN1 3XG
    Tel: 01273 234834
  3. Samaritans
    The Upper Mill, Kingston Road, Ewell, Surrey KT17 2AF
    Tel: +44 (0)20 8394 8300
  4. Papyrus UK
    Bankside 2, Crosfield Street, Warrington, Cheshire, WA1 1UP
    Tel: 01925 572 444

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