Self-harm is sometimes used as a way to cope with difficult feelings. Some types of self-harm are easy to spot, while others can be hidden until the problem becomes bigger and impossible to hide anymore. If you believe your loved one is intentionally hurting themselves, know treatment is available for them. In this article, you can find all the information about the different forms of self-harming, including the signs to look for within each type and when and how to seek professional treatment.
Before getting into the proper risk factors that can lead someone to self-harming behavior, it is important to understand what self-harm is and why people engage in such behavior to provoke self-injury and pain.
We can describe self-harm as when someone causes self-injury. Intentionally harming themselves is a way of expressing emotional distress rather than a mental illness that has a diagnosis. But, it can be linked to mental health conditions such as borderline personality disorder or depression.
Although it's not considered a medical condition by itself, it still requires professional treatment as underlying issues might lead individuals to choose this dangerous way of coping with their emotions and negative feelings.
People self-harm for different reasons. Usually, individuals use self-mutilation to cope with negative feelings, but there are other motives, such as:
Young adults are most likely to self-harm - usually, self-harm starts in the pre-teen or early teen years, when emotional changes happen fast, often, and unexpectedly. During this time, teens also face increasing peer pressure, emotional problems, and loneliness and may have conflicts with parents, teachers, and even friends.
As mentioned, some teens self-harm as a coping mechanism to deal with emotional distress.
Some risk factors lead young people to experience difficult emotions, such as:
Many types of self-harm are used to deal with personal distress and emotional pain. It can be hard for close family members to realize their loved one is self-harming. However, prolonged self-injury behavior can be spotted through different signs.
Different types of self-harm have different warning signs:
Self-mutilation is the most well-known form of self-harm. Self-injury to the skin or physical self-harm includes any act that could harm. These behaviors often cause physical pain. It can result in permanent scars and can represent a severe risk to one's health.
These can include:
Signs to look for:
Any unhealthy or destructive behavior can be more emotional self-harm. These are especially hard to identify as they are not physical. It can include procrastinating, pushing away loved ones such as a family member, or even changing oneself to please others. Many of these are done out of fear, self-punishment, or to feel like they have control over a situation.
Another type of self-harm is risky behavior. In this type of self-harm, a teenager performs, on purpose, certain behaviors that they know could lead to dangerous outcomes. When the negative effects of a certain behavior outweigh any potential benefits, it can be considered as self-harm.
These can be:
Adopting unhealthy eating habits is another form of self-harm teenagers can develop. These unhealthy eating habits usually have symptoms of eating disorders, such as anorexia, where they starve themselves on purpose, bulimia, or binge eating.
Due to such self-harming behaviors, they can develop a diagnosed eating disorder that, if left untreated, becomes a serious threat to life. This type of self-harm is often used as a way of self-punishment or to feel a sense of control.
Signs to look for:
Aside from the specific signs to look for in each type of self-harm, there are common signs that can be applied to every form of self-injury. These are:
Teenagers who engage in self-harm are at higher risk of attempting suicide if they don't get the help they need. Someone who intentionally damages their health might not have the goal to commit suicide. It could be that they believe the only way to deal with their feelings is to self-injure. However, prolonged self-harming behavior can intensify the symptoms of an underlying issue, making an individual consider a suicide attempt. Also, the self-harm act can worsen over time, leading to severe injury and even death.
If you believe your teen self-harms, the first thing you can do is offer them support.
Understandably, you might feel helpless as a parent, and keeping calm during a confrontation is hard. However, it's important to remember that your child is going through painful emotions, and what they feel inside is worse than their scars. In addition, many people who self-harm have interpersonal difficulties. Therefore, they need all your help and support, not your judgment.
Similarly, it is hard for many people, especially close ones, to understand the possible reasons behind such dangerous behaviors. But remember, self-injury is your child's way to cope with a bigger problem than they can deal with.
Someone who uses self-harm as a coping mechanism can seriously hurt themselves and provoke long-term negative consequences to their health and well-being. Seeking professional help when your teen suffers from self-harming behavior is essential to avoid life-threatening consequences and to treat the underlying issues behind this behavior.
If your child suffers from self-harm, it's important to remind them to talk to a trusted adult, school counselor, or mental health professional. But, ultimately, for a long-lasting and successful recovery, your teen needs proper treatment - common treatment options that a doctor can advise for self-harm can be:
Professional help will ultimately help your teen deal with their feelings in healthier ways that won't put their health and body at risk. In addition, it will provide them with the necessary skill set and tools to overcome any future problems on their own.
Clearfork Academy is a leading treatment provider that serves teenagers, both girls and boys, between the ages of 13 to 17. We offer substance use treatments and help adolescents with mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and self-harm.
For your teenager, we provide faith-based programs in a therapeutic environment, including:
We lead adolescents to a new legacy - if you believe your teen could benefit from our help, please contact us today at (844) 387-8780 to find out more about treatment options.
Originally from the Saginaw, Eagle Mountain area, Austin Davis earned a Bachelor of Science in Pastoral Ministry from Lee University in Cleveland, TN and a Master of Arts in Counseling from The Church of God Theological Seminary. He then went on to become a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor in the State of Texas.
Austin’s professional history includes both local church ministry and clinical counseling. At a young age, he began serving youth at the local church in various capacities which led to clinical training and education. Austin gained a vast knowledge of mental health disorders while working in state and public mental health hospitals. This is where he was exposed to almost every type of diagnosis and carries this experience into the daily treatment.
Austin’s longtime passion is Clearfork Academy, a christ-centered residential facility focused on mental health and substance abuse. He finds joy and fulfillment working with “difficult” clients that challenge his heart and clinical skill set. It is his hope and desire that each resident that passes through Clearfork Academy will be one step closer to their created design.
Austin’s greatest pleasures in life are being a husband to his wife, and a father to his growing children. He serves at his local church by playing guitar, speaking and helping with tech arts. Austin also enjoys being physically active, reading, woodworking, and music.