What is Self-Harm and How is it Treated?

Self-harm, including cutting, burning, scalding, hitting and more, can often be misconstrued as being something that it is not. From an outsider’s point of view, an individual who engages in self-harm probably wants attention, is suicidal, or is “crazy”. However none of these opinions about self-harm are generally true. Most people who practice self-harm do so to express their deeply rooted emotions that they are either not comfortable expressing normally or are unable to do so.

What are the Symptoms of Self Harm?

Individuals who suffer from self-harm practices often display a number of troubling symptoms, however they can be difficult to spot. Some of the symptoms of self-harm include the following:

  • Intentionally cutting, scratching, or burning of the skin
  • Hitting or punching oneself
  • Not allowing self-inflicted wounds to heal by continually picking at them
  • Ingesting dangerous substances or objects

These symptoms can be hard to recognize, as many times individuals who practice self-harm cover up their wounds with clothing. However friends and family members of an individual who practices self-harm can keep an eye out for recurrent physical accidents, scars, blood stained articles of clothing, and hiding out for extended periods of time.

How Is Self-Harm Treated?

Self-harm is a serious psychological, emotional and physical condition that requires immediate care. Without treatment for self-harm, individuals can continually suffer from their actions and possibly develop life-threatening side effects as a result. Some of the most effective forms of self-harm treatment include the following:

  • Dialectical behavior therapy – Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a commonly practiced behavioral therapy that helps individuals struggling with self-harm practices utilizes the steps of DBT to overcome their issues. These steps include learning how to tolerate distress, regulate emotions, and improve upon communication skills.
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy – This type of therapy is incredibly beneficial for people looking to overcome self-harm practices, as it helps address past issues that have played a role in the development of self-harm, as well as work through personal issues.
  •  Hospitalization – If an individual continues to abuse him or herself through self-harm, their doctor (or family members depending on their age) might hospitalize them in order to protect them from harming themselves again. During this time, those in the hospital might perform a psychiatric evaluation of the individual to ensure that additional psychological issues are not contributing to their self-harm practices. If so, they will provide medications and refer therapists.

The treatment of self-harm can include a number of different modalities, including dialectical behavior therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy and possibly even hospitalization. Each one of these treatments, plus many more, can be offered to individuals struggling with self-harm as a means of providing help.

If you or someone you love is suffering from self-harm practices, it is crucial that help is received immediately. By contacting a doctor or family therapist, either you or your loved one can receive therapies such as these in order to overcome the challenges associated with self-harm practices. Do not wait any longer for help – reach out today.

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