What is Self-Injury or Self-Harm?

Self-injury or self-harm involves deliberately injuring or causing pain to ones body. The most common way of engaging in self-injury is cutting the skin with razor blades or pieces of glass. Injuries can range from moderate to severe. Young people who have symptoms of depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem are more likely to self-injure. There isn’t one absolute predictor of self- injury, but the following predictors increase someone’s risk for self- injury.

  • Abuse/neglect (past/present)
  • Bullying
  • Past episodes of self-harm
  • Losses (e.g. deaths, break-ups)
  • Inability or difficulty coping
  • High self-criticism
  • Addictive behaviours/ substance-use
  • Peers/family members who self-harm
  • Mental illness

Causes

Self-Harm is commonly seen as a coping mechanism. Research suggests that self-injury can activate different chemicals in the brain that relieve emotional turmoil for a short period of time. Relief through self-harming is often short lived, creating a vicious cycle that can become entrenched. Other motivations for why teens may self-injure include:

  • To alleviate anxiety/tension
  • To reduce or express feelings of sadness and loneliness
  • To alleviate angry feelings
  • To punish oneself due to self-hatred
  • To get help from or show distress to others

Treatment

People who engage in Self-Harm often display symptoms associated with Depression, anxiety or low self-esteem. In addition to having a strong support network, a professional assessment from a medical practitioner can help uncover underlying issues that may be influencing or triggering this behaviour.  If you are worried that yourself or someone you love is engaging in Self-Harm or self-destructive behaviours, simply contact us to find out the options available.

Sources:

Teen Mental health – Understanding Self Injury
Beyond Blue – Self harm and Self Injury

 

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