Self-harm is often kept in secret. However, having the urge to harm oneself is common, especially to young people and teens. A surge of feelings and emotions during adolescence can be one of the factors. However, self-harm can happen to anyone.

There are many ways to support someone who self-harms. Having enough information about self-harm will help you and your loved ones in these tough times. There are also many types of services and therapies that can support people who self-harm. Understanding self-harm is the first step in overcoming it. 

What Is Self-Harm?

Self-harm or also called self-injury, is purposely harming yourself. It is a self-inflicted injury and not considered a mental health disorder. Although, some people who self-harm may have an existing mental health condition.

Self-harming is a form for other people to cope with their emotions. It is not a suicide attempt, but it can be a warning sign that the person is undergoing an emotional breakdown. It can only be a thought or an urge. As long as you are doing it intentionally, it is a sign of self-harm.

The Cycle

Self-harm usually runs in a cycle. It starts with the person wanting to relieve emotional pain or build up stress. It is a temporary alleviation or a relief from distressing feelings and thoughts. While the underlying problem remains, guilt and shame may arise, continuing the cycle. 

Self-harm as a temporary release may become a behavior or an escape from the difficulty of life. Talking to someone you trust will help you get the right kind of support. It will be easy for you to break the cycle of self-harm by learning new coping mechanisms.

Types of Self-harm

Any act that you purposely do to injure yourself can be considered self-harm. It can result in a minor or major injury. It may also leave permanent scars on your body or maybe a threat to your health. The most common ways of self-harm are:

  • Cutting your skin with a use of blade, knife, or nails
  • Burning your skin with fire, cigarettes, candles, or matches
  • Bruising yourself
  • Punching things or punching yourself
  • Banging yourself too hard objects
  • Piercing your body with sharp objects

Other ways of self-harm can be some obvious ways like binge drinking, reckless driving, overdosing on drugs, and putting yourself in danger. 

Why Does a Person Harm Themselves?

There are many different reasons why a person self-injure. Most of the time, people who self-harm have trouble dealing and coping with their emotions. Here are the usual reasons why people self-harm:

  • Making themselves feel normal. Trying to hurt themselves as a way to feel pain and emotions.  
  • Feeling pain will remind them that they are not numb or empty. 
  • Distracting themselves from any negative feelings
  • Blocking painful memories
  • A way to themselves thinking that they have done something wrong
  • Getting relief from intense emotions that can be overwhelming, like loneliness and anger
  • A cry for help

For someone who self harms, it is important to know the underlying cause of the problem. It is to address the issue properly and to correct the behavior. Your friend or family member can be a self-harmer. Here are some signs of people who self harm:

  • Has recurring bruises, scars, injuries, or cuts in any body parts
  • Makes excuses about their injuries
  • Keeping sharp objects without any reason
  • Wearing pants or long sleeves even in a very hot weather
  • Questions about their identity
  • Changes in behavior, becoming more unstable, unpredictable, or being impulsive

If you see these symptoms of self-harm in a friend or loved one, it is time to offer support or seek help from a mental health professional. It is to get proper mental health treatment and services. 

Who Is at Risk for Self-Injury? 

Self-harm can happen to anyone. It usually starts to happen to young people because they do not know how to deal with their emotions. Different factors may push people to self-harm. It can be something that happened from their childhood, work, or at home. Someone is more at risk of self-harm than others. Here are some factors why:

  • Past and present mental health declines. It can be eating disorders, anxiety, depression, borderline personality disorder, or other mental disorders. 
  • Children who left their homes and not taken care of by their parents
  • Not getting enough emotional support from friends or family.
  • People who were abused or experienced trauma as children
  • A person with a low self-esteem
  • Having a friend who also self-harm

These factors are just some information that can put a person to be at greater risk for self-harm. However, having these does not mean someone will harm themselves. Also, someone who harms themselves can not experience any of these risk factors.  

Mental Health Treatment

Many effective treatments can help someone with their self-harm behavior. In any treatment plan, psychotherapy is the most important. In self-harm, there is a need to manage someone’s emotions and learn a new coping mechanism.

Talking to someone about your self-harm looks very difficult. However, the first step of getting help is to open up your feelings. It can be to anyone in your friends, an adult you trust, or even your school nurse. It is best to seek help from someone familiar with the situation. 

A psychiatrist will be the best person to give you proper treatment with your self-harm. You will have to answer questions about your life history, health, ways of self-harming, or past and present urge to self-harm. This information will help your psychiatrist to match you with the new therapy you need. You may be given some medications if you have an underlying mental disorder.
Do not be ashamed to ask for help. You are not the only one experiencing self-harm. Suppose you need someone to talk to, book an appointment with Kentucky Counseling Center now.

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