Psychiatrist Guide For Self-Harm Behavior

What is Self-Harm?

The deliberate act of physically harming oneself is known as self-harm, and it is a very serious indication of emotional suffering. As these self-destructive actions are carried out without any intention of suicide, self-harm is officially classified as nonsuicidal self-injury disorder (NSSID), according to the Statistical and Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).

Teenagers are most at risk for self-harm injuries because, according to numerous studies, 15 percent of teenagers and 17 to 35 percent of college students have engaged in self-harming behaviors. Self-harm behavior occurs at similar rates in men and women. Self-injurious behaviors include cutting, skin carving, severe scratching or burning, as well as striking or slamming into walls to hurt oneself.

Other instances include intentionally interfering with the healing of a wound, excessive skin picking, hair pulling, and consuming poisonous substances. It can be very difficult to tell if someone who engages in self-injurious conduct is trying to kill themselves or just inflict pain on themselves, which is why these behaviors are so troubling for both parents and therapists.

Warning Signs & Risks of Self-Harm

  • Avoiding social settings and withdrawing
  • Wearing loose or baggy clothing to hide wounds
  • Finding knives, lighters, scissors, or razors in inappropriate locations
  • Numerous wounds, scars, or burns on the stomach, hips, legs, or wrists
  • Always finding an explanation for any scrapes, bruises, or wounds on the body
  • Residing for extended lengths of time in a bathroom or bedroom


  • Remember that if you know someone who is self-harming, they most certainly have a serious underlying disorder or other indications of emotional distress. It's critical to listen to them without passing judgment, to let them know how much you value them as a person, and to let them know that this behavior is typical.

    Self-Harm and Mental Health Treatment

    There are numerous therapeutic options available, including social support and counseling. The goal of psychotherapeutic treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and more precisely dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), is to understand how people behave in their environments and relationships while focusing on managing thoughts and impulses. For people to obtain consolation and love from friends and family, social support is crucial in cases of self-harm. Self-harm is not specifically addressed by any one drug. To treat underlying psychological illnesses, such as depression or anxiety, medication may be provided.

    What are the Causes of Self-Harm

    Without an exhaustive assessment and counseling, it can be challenging to identify the root causes of self-harm. Many adolescent self-harmers lack effective coping mechanisms and are suffering from intense emotional anguish. To control emotions and make an effort to get rid of underlying rage, misery, anguish, or frustration is an impulsive behavior. The majority of those at risk for self-harm have a history of trauma, abuse, or neglect, and they utilize self-destructive behavior to mask or express their suppressed feelings.

    Borderline personality disorder (BPD) and eating disorders including anorexia and bulimia nervosa are directly associated with self-harm. It is estimated that 30% of females with eating disorders and nearly 70% of people with borderline personality disorder engage in self-harming behaviors. Additionally connected to melancholy, anxiety, and suicide are self-harm behaviors. The statistics for these co-occurring disorders are yet undetermined, though.

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