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Self-Harm Treatment

Self-Harm Treatment, Signs, Symptoms and Complications

Self-Harm describes any behavior where someone causes harm to themselves, usually to cope with difficult or distressing thoughts and feelings or to hurt themselves intentionally. It is any behavior that involves the deliberate causing of pain or injury to oneself without wanting to die. Self-harm can include behaviors like cutting, burning, or hitting oneself, binge-eating, starvation, or repeatedly putting oneself in dangerous situations. It can also involve abuse of drugs or alcohol, including overdosing on prescription medications.

Usually, it is a response to distress, whether it be from mental illness, trauma, or psychological pain. Some people find that the physical pain of self-harm helps provide temporary relief from emotional pain. In addition, some people who self-harm do also experience thoughts of suicide. The type and length of self-harm treatment will depend on your individual circumstances and the severity and complexity of your condition.

According to, Mental Health[1] in the USA, about 1 in 100 people, more females hurt themselves than males. A person who self-harms usually does not mean to kill themselves. But they are at higher risk of attempting suicide if they do not get help.

Self-harm can be both distressing for you and your loved ones. This is because they may not be able to understand why you self-harm. However, also include internal or emotional harm, such as consuming toxic amounts of alcohol or drugs or deliberately participating in unsafe sex. It tends to begin in the teen or early adult years. Some people may engage in self-harm a few times and then stop. 

Signs & Symptoms of Self-Harm

It can be difficult to detect when someone is hurting themselves because self-harm is often done in private, and they hide out of shame and fear. The signs suggest someone may be self-harming. Others engage in it more often and have trouble stopping.

Examples of self-harm include:

  • Cutting yourself such as using a razor blade, knife, or other sharp object to cut the skin
  • Punching yourself or punching things (like a wall)
  • Burning yourself with cigarettes, matches, or candles
  • Pulling out your hair
  • Poking objects through body openings
  • Breaking your bones or bruising yourself

Signs That Can Affect Personality in BPD

Behavioral signs:

  • Dressing inappropriately for the weather, such as wearing long-sleeved tops in the summer
  • Avoiding activities that expose the body, such as swimming
  • Aashing clothes separately
  • Interacting less or performing activities less well at home, school or work
  • Having unexplained wounds or unlikely justifications for injuries
  • Hiding potentially dangerous objects, such as razor blades or cigarette lighters

Psychological signs:

  • Expressing feelings of anxiety
  • Expressing feelings of depression

Psychosocial signs:

  • Lack of interest in hobbies that were once enjoyed
  • Disengaging from social interactions
  • Having difficulties communicating with loved ones
  • Having drastic mood swings
  • Changes from their usual eating and sleeping schedule

Physical signs:

  • Complaining of headaches or stomach pains with no explanation
  • Overdosing on medicine and requiring medical attention
  • Physical signs of self-harm on the body such as open wounds or cuts

Who Self-Harms?

This is more on young people who live with anxiety and depression or with their environment. You are more likely to self-harm if you:

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  • Have a mental health issue such as:
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Borderline personality disorder
    • Eating disorders
    • Substance abuse issues
  • Female
  • Teenagers
  • Prisoners
  • Asylum seeker
  • A Veteran of the armed forces
  • Are gay, lesbian or bisexual
  • Have lost a loved one through suicide
  • Are a survivor of physical, emotional or sexual abuse as a child or as an adult

Why People May Self-Harm

People self-harm for different reasons. You might self-harm to:

  • Deal with strong emotions like anger or sadness
  • Make yourself feel normal
  • Make others aware of how you are feeling
  • Punish yourself for things you think you have done wrong
  • Distract yourself from feelings
  • Get relief from feelings

Getting Help and Self-Harm Treatment

If you think someone you care for is engaging in self-harm, it is important that you offer them support and show them that you care about their wellbeing. Encourage them to get professional help and continue the conversation about their mental health by checking in with them to see how they are going. If you are concerned for your loved one’s welfare and want to tell a healthcare professional, tell your loved one you are planning to share your concerns before you do.

If you self-harm, it is important to see a counselor, psychiatrist, or doctor. These healthcare professionals can help you find what is causing your urge to self-harm and work through your difficult thoughts. Early intervention can minimize damage caused by self-harm and decrease your risk of future episodes. If you can, find supportive people who you feel comfortable with who you can talk to and will listen without judgment. If you have a friend or a family member you can trust, reach out to them to help you through this challenge.

Self-Harm Treatment
Self Harm Treatment

Self-Harm Treatments & Therapy

There are effective treatments for self-harm that can allow a person to feel in control again.

Kinds of therapy can help, depending on the diagnosis.

  • Psychodynamic therapy focuses on exploring past experiences and emotions
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy focuses on recognizing negative thought patterns and increasing coping skills
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy can help a person learn positive coping methods

If your symptoms are severe, your specialist may give a recommendation for a short stay in the hospital. They will offer a safe environment where you can focus your energy on treatment.

Someone who self-harms and seeks medical assistance will be referred by their doctor to a psychologist who specializes in self-harm. A mental health professional can help you to find the cause or trigger for your self-harm behavior. They can also provide management tools to help you cope with any challenging thoughts and difficult feelings.

In many cases, people who self-harm also suffer from mental health disorders. A psychologist can assess whether there are any underlying mental health conditions. Psychologists can provide management strategies and treatments that can help you feel better.

Types of Self-Harm Treatment

There are different approaches to manage self-harm treatment and mental illness and may include:

First. Cognitive-behavioral therapy — This is a type of ‘talking therapy’ that is based on the principle that how you think, and act affects the way you feel.

Second. Medicine — In some cases, the best treatment for an underlying condition that triggers self-harm is medicine, such as an antidepressant or anxiety medicine.

Third. Psychotherapy — Counselling helps to stabilize thoughts and feelings by identifying the cause of the emotional stress and teaches skills to help address distress.

You may need treatment from a doctor for physical injuries after a self-harm episode. In severe cases, you may be required to go to the emergency department.

Distractions Techniques from Self-Harming

Some of these techniques may feel uncomfortable or hurt, but they are not harmful or dangerous.

Examples of distraction techniques include:

  • Holding ice cubes in your hands
  • Keeping a rubber band on your wrist, you can snap it against your wrist whenever you feel you need to
  • Drawing red lines in pen on your body, where you would otherwise cut yourself
  • Using exercise to release pressure and stress
  • Writing, drawing, or scribbling on paper with a red pen
  • Doing meditation, such as practicing relaxation or breathing techniques
  • Focusing your attention on something simple for some time, this may help your negative thoughts pass
  • Talking with someone you trust

Complications from Self-Harm

Self-harming behavior has profoundly serious complications, like increased risk of serious physical harm or accidental suicide. These complications can occur when a person causes more damage than they intended. Sometimes people who self-harm become suicidal or feel confined to a cycle of hopelessness, as self-harm is not a helpful way to deal with distressing emotions. Other potential complications of self-harm include long-term scarring, infection, brain injury, or organ damage.

At We Level Up Treatment Center, we provide world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. We all work as an integrated team providing Self-harm treatment for successful recovery. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our specialists know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Your call is private and confidential and there is never any obligation.


[1] Mental Health –