Do you need help understanding someone who self-harms? Research studies estimate that about 4% of Americans engage in self-harm behavior that is non-lethal. Teens and young college students tend to self-harm for a number of reasons. Due to the secretive nature of this mental health disorder, mental health experts realize that these numbers could be much higher, but the majority of society simply is unaware of the dangerous trend.
An established Raleigh, NC, psychiatrist offers some insight into what causes self-harming behavior, who is most likely to suffer from this compulsion and how to spot and approach someone suffering from non-lethal self-harm behaviors in an effective and caring manner.
What Is Self-Harming Behavior?
Understanding someone who self-harms is no easy task. However, someone who self-harms intentionally and impulsively hurts oneself repeatedly in a manner that is not intended to be lethal. Also, other terms that describe this behavior include self-abuse, self-mutilation, and self-injury. These methods of self-harm include cutting the skin, headbanging, and burning among others.
Self-harming may also include punching or hitting oneself, inserting objects into one or more body cavities, purposefully breaking bones or otherwise injuring themselves and drinking or ingesting dangerous or harmful substances such as bleach or some type of soap/detergent.
Why Do People Practice Self-Harming Behaviors?
Psychiatrists say that people who indulge in self-harming behaviors are looking for a release for their inner pain, stress or overwhelming emotions. These patients are typically unable to adequately express their true inner feelings, might feel lonely, feel misunderstood by others and/or are fearful of adult responsibilities and/or intimate relationships.
Basically, the person uses self-harming behaviors in order to cope or express their difficult to express inner feelings or to relieve inner pain. It is a way that the person gains some control over their body due to some internal or external loss of control or over/under stimulus.
Why Cutting & Other Self-Harming Behavior Is Not Usually a Suicidal Attempt
Most individuals who practice self-harming behaviors such as repeated skin cutting do not really intend to commit suicide. This is an attempt to gain control of their body when everything else seems to be out of control for the person.
It is common for individuals who self-harm to also have an eating disorder and/or other mental health disorders. Although suicide may not be their intent, actions to keep the person safe should be initiated because death could be the result of this dangerous cycle of self-harm if not treated properly.
What Are the Signs of Self-Harming Behaviors?
Although it can be difficult to identify that someone is engaging in self-harming or self-injuring behaviors due to the secretive nature of the person doing the behaviors, there are some common signs to be on the look out for. These include:
- Lack of motivation or interest in anything
- Withdrawal from people or society
- Signs of depression, tearfulness or apathy
- Talk about self-harming behaviors
- Unexplained bruises, cuts or other body injuries
- Expressing feelings of hopelessness or questioning their usefulness
- Changes in mood
- Sleep disturbances or changes – insomnia, nightmares, sleeping too much etc.
- Lacking energy or interest in things usually enjoyed
- Change in eating habits
- Signs of an eating disorder
- Extreme mood swings – depressed, anxious or aggressive
- Lack of feelings
- Becoming quieter than normal
- Wearing more makeup or long sleeves/pants to cover up self-harming injuries
- Blaming oneself for things they can’t control
- Wearing covering clothing in hot weather
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
- Engaging in impulsive potentially harmful activities
- Risky behaviors escalated
It is also common for individuals prone to self-harm to begin having difficulties at work, school or in relationships.
The Need for Accurate & Professional Diagnosis
Non-lethal self-harm behavior can coincide with other mental health disorders. The self-injury behaviors can also cause severe harm to the person physically or emotionally. Some will even die as a result of such behaviors.
This is why it is crucial for these individuals to get an accurate and professional diagnosis in order to begin the proper treatment before more harm is inflicted.
There Is Hope & Effective Treatments for Self-Harming Behaviors
Fortunately, there is hope and effective treatments that can help someone in the dangerous cycle of self-harming behaviors like cutting available nearby. Also, it is important that those close to the person be honest and patient in broaching this subject.
For more information regarding self-harming behaviors and/or how to help someone suffering from this, contact MedPsych Integrated via https://www.medpsychnc.com in the Raleigh area for assistance. Lastly, we hope this helps you better understanding someone who self-harms and what they might be going through.