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What Are the Dangers of Teen Self-Harm?

What are the dangers of teen self-harm?

Self-harm refers to any form of self-injury. Adolescents who engage in self-harm use it to cope with feelings of inadequacy, anger, depression, loneliness, and self-consciousness.

Different Types of Self-Harm

Most self-harm acts include cutting or scratching with a sharp object. In a ritualistic way, teens carve words or symbols into their skin to express their feelings of alienation, loneliness, anger, hurt, or low self-worth. Other types of self-harm include:

  • Biting, scratching, or piercing their skin with sharp tools
  • Burning their skin
  • Hitting or punching themselves or the walls
  • Picking and seeking fights to experience pain
  • Slamming their head or body against walls and other objects
  • Reckless driving
  • Engaging in risky sexual acts
  • Tearing out their hair
  • Inserting objects into the body
  • Overdosing on drugs or excessive drinking
  • Overexercising to the point of injury

The Signs and Dangers of Self-Harm

Long-term self-harm can lead to severe repercussions for teens. These include:

  • Physical health problems
  • Social isolation and alienation
  • Feelings of guilt and regret
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Decreased sense of self-worth
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness

There are a few signs that your teenager is self-harming, but the most common ones are:

  • Withdrawing from friends, family, or activities.
  • Sudden changes in eating habits.
  • Extreme weight loss or gain.
  • Suicidal thoughts or acts.
  • Unexplained scars, cuts, scratches, bruises, or scabs, especially on the wrists, arms, thighs, or torso.
  • Behaving impulsively and erratically.
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness.
  • Often seeking privacy.
  • Unexplained blood stains on bedding, clothing, or towels.
  • Keeping sharp objects in their possession, like razors, safety pins, nails, scissors, knives, needles, or pieces of glass.

Pressures That Teenage Boys Face

Often teenagers turn to self-harm to relieve the pressures they feel from the circumstances of everyday life. Some of the typical pressures include:

#1. Chasing Popularity: Many teenagers feel the pressure to fit in with their peers. Instead of chasing popularity, we suggest teens pursue hobbies or passions where they can meet like-minded peers.

#2. Family Dynamics: Teens in families that lack trust, compassion, guidance, and communication skills often deal with feelings of anxiety, ostracization, and negligence. It sets them up for emotional distress when interacting with their parents or other family members. We recommend families take some steps to improve lines of communication, like family therapy.

#3. Anxiety and Stress: Teenagers face a lot of pressure and stress trying to find their place in the world. It can lead to self-harm to cope with these feelings. Instead, we suggest teaching teen boys healthy coping skills for dealing with stress and pursuing goals.

#4. Dissatisfied With Their Body Image: Many teenagers view photos of the “ideal body” through social media, magazines, and tv. This can lead to self-harm practices like poor nutrition or overexercising to build their self-worth and control their bodies.

#5. Educational Achievements: When teenage boys experience the pressure of pursuing academic achievement, they often struggle with feelings of inadequacy and unhappiness. Some schools provide students with counseling, peer-to-peer support systems, and educational programs to alleviate stress.

#6. Playing on a Sports Team: Teenage boys experience pressure to play sports and win. If they fail to win or make it on the team, it can cause them to feel self-conscious or inferior. They may push their bodies beyond the breaking point as punishment for not meeting specific benchmarks. We suggest teaching teens that the value of sports extends beyond winning. Instead, they can learn to value sports for its comradeship and opportunities for growth.

#7. Internet: They can find websites, forums, and social media groups that support and glamorize self-harm. These sources provide information on the different methods of self-harm and hiding it. Overconsumption of digital media takes teens away from healthier activities and coping mechanisms. Thus, we recommend that teens unplug and reduce digital media activity.

Treating Self-Harm

You can use a few methods to help your teenager stop self-harm. Some of these methods include:

  • Talking and listening to them about their pain and anxiety.
  • Giving them access to safe and healthy activities can reduce the pain and anxiety they may experience.
  • A good therapist can help your teen identify the reasons behind their self-harm and provide resources to help them cope.
  • Consider proper medication like antidepressants from a medical professional.
  • Having a support network that will listen and help them.
  • As a parent, learn the ins and outs of self-harm. Then, you can better serve your child through the healing process.
  • A support group of peers can provide your teen with a space where you can talk about their feelings, ask for advice, and find others who have experienced the same thing.

There are many things you can do to help your teenager stop self-harm. If your teenager is harming themselves, there are effective treatments and therapies that will help them work through their pain. At Clearfork Academy, we offer various services that help teens and young adults overcome addiction, self-harm, and other mental health-related issues. Our program functions to provide lasting change for those affected by these problems. Our qualified clinicians provide expert-driven counseling, medication management, adventure therapy, individualized treatment plans, medical detoxes, and relapse prevention strategies. With us, your child will have the right access to care and establish who they are and their place in this world. Our goal is to instill hope and motivation for teens to become their best selves. If your teen is currently struggling to manage their mental health needs, get help today. To learn more about our comprehensive treatment program, contact Clearfork Academy today by calling (888) 966-8604.

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Understanding Self-Harm: A Guide for Parents

Understanding Self Harm - A Guide for Parents

Teenage and young adult years are often when self-harm behaviors develop. Mental health challenges, navigating emotions, and environment each contribute to such behavior. It can be disheartening and painful to find out that your child is inflicting harm upon themselves.

If you are concerned that your child is engaging in self-harm, there are a few things that you should understand that will guide you to take the proper steps towards helping your child.

What Is Self Harm?

Self-harm is the act of a person intentionally causing physical damage to their body. Self-harm is not an illness but a maladaptive coping mechanism for an individual with emotional distress. Mental disorders such as depression, body dysmorphia, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder can co-exist with self-harm.

During the adolescent years, many stressors can weigh on your child. Teens typically deal with stress from school, family issues, peer relationships, and hormonal changes. Upon graduation, teens come closer to the reality of having to figure out their next step after high school.

Why Do Teens Self-Harm?

There are many different reasons teens may harm themselves, and there is no discrimination across race, socioeconomic status, or culture. As a parent, you may ask yourself why teens want to harm themselves? Although every child has their reasons, here are a few of the most common:

  • They want to bring punishment to themselves
  • To show a sign of needing help
  • Bring a feeling of something other than numbness, even if it is a pain
  • Have control over one’s body
  • Release intense feeling

Risk factors that can serve as potential engagement in self-harm include:

  • Children abused or have intense trauma
  • Low-self esteem
  • Bullying
  • Mental health issues
  • Substance use

Self-harm is not always a sign that your teen intends to kill themselves. Non-suicidal self-injury is deliberately inflicting physical damage to one’s own body without the intention of suicide. It is important to note that although self-harm is not always a sign of wanting to commit suicide, those who do engage in self-harm are at a higher risk for suicide. For most individuals, it is a way to bring physical pain reflective of their emotional pain.

Warning Signs

People who self-injure are often discrete and have specific ways of hiding their scars or injuries. The most common areas of the body that people tend to self-harm are the arms, wrist, legs, and torso. Teens may wear specific clothing to hide scars, such as wearing long-sleeve shirts to cover their arms. Other warning signs include:

  • Burn or cut marks that are consistent on specific areas of the body
  • Bruises from head banging or self-hitting
  • Their peers or friends engage in self-harm behaviors
  • Finding sharp objects in their possession
  • Explosive anger that leads to them taking it out on themselves
  • Mood changes
  • Making excuses to explain visible injuries

Individuals may have a specific preference for how they prefer to self-injure. If you notice any unusual behaviors displayed by your teen that cause concern for self-harm, know that there are treatment options available.

Treatment Options

If you are worried or know that your child is self-harming, it is important to take the appropriate measures toward getting the right help for your child. Try not to be judgmental or overly critical of their behaviors. Self-harm is a sign that the child is in pain or emotionally stressed. Addressing the situation with empathy will help your child feel comfortable opening up to you. Some treatment options include:

  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is used to help individuals work through and verbalize their feelings and emotions. It can help identify what triggers them to self-harm and identify any underlying conditions that may influence their behavior. The therapist will also help by teaching healthy coping skills, developing self-esteem and problem-solving skills.
  • Intensive Treatment: If the self-injurious behaviors are more severe and appear to be frequent, your teen may require an intensive form of treatment. Short-term hospitalization or psychiatric care provides a safe and professional care setting to help monitor and treat your teen. If your child has an underlying mental health disorder, inpatient treatment will help find an appropriate medication.
  • Support Groups: Talking to others who share similar experiences offers your child a sense of connection and relatability. Support groups provide the opportunity to hear other techniques that people use, and it opens up the space to verbalize and communicate feelings to other people. Continuing to build strong support systems will reassure you and your child that they always have help in times of challenge.

Seeing your child bring harm to themselves can be a painful reality, and you shouldn’t have to face this challenging circumstance alone. At Clearfork Academy, our qualified staff offers a measured and empathetic approach to helping teens recover from substance abuse and mental health disorders. We accomplish this by offering individual therapy that allows your teen to identify the pain related to their substance use and impulse to use self-injurious behaviors. As we work with your teen to identify their feelings, we teach them healthy coping skills to use in times of distress. Remember, teenagers experience stress unique to them, and such stress can weigh heavily on them and lead them to find unhealthy ways to cope. Please don’t wait until it’s too late to seek help for your child. To learn more about our programs and how they can benefit your teen’s recovery process, Call Clearfork Academy today at (888) 966-8604.  

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What Are Some Ways to Help Self-Harm?

teenage with a bruise around his eye

Self-harm is a major problem facing teens. It is self-destructive, dangerous, and can even cause long-term damage to a teen’s body. Further, physical self-harm is any self-injury that involves intentionally inflicting harm on the body. Let’s explore what self-harm is and how a teen can find help.  

Why Self-Harm

There is a range of reasons why adolescents self-harm. Some of the most common reasons include:

  • To cope with anxiety, stress, loneliness, or depression.
  • To feel better for the moment by numbing.
  • To regulate their emotions.
  • To release tension or feel less pressured.
  • To deal with difficult emotions and experiences.
  • To cope with the stigma associated with mental health issues.
  • To feel a sense of control when they are feeling hopeless or helpless.
  • To show others their emotions without having to say anything.
  • To cope with trauma.

Teens often turn to self-harm as a response to the pressures they face in their lives. Some of these pressures involve school, family troubles, or peer influence. When parents and teens learn about the reasons for self-harm, they can work together to manage the emotions and feelings that lead to this behavior. 

What Are the Warning Signs of Self-Harm?

Understanding the warning signs of self-harm can help both parents and teenagers find appropriate care. 

Some of the symptoms that are associated with self-harm include:

  • Frequent, unexplained injuries or bruises
  • Changes in mood or behavior over a short period of time
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Avoiding social interactions
  • Often wearing long clothing that hides the injuries
  • Expressing thoughts of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Showing reckless behavior
  • Loss of interest in extracurricular activities or school
  • Harmful items such as blades, broken glass, scissors, lighters, or knives found in their space

The Connection Between Substance Use Disorders and Self-Harm

Self-harm and SUD cause similar feelings of cravings in a person. Additionally, adolescents who experience self-harm have a higher-than-average risk of developing a SUD. These teens may also have a history of traumatic experiences, including being sexually or physically abused, bullied, or witnessing violence. 

Like SUD, self-harm serves as a coping mechanism that allows teens to deal with severe emotional or psychological trauma. A person feels more in control and believes they have the power to change their situation. 

Substance use can also increase the risk of self-injury. Sometimes, teenagers start by self-harming then progress to drug use. Under the influence, teens often lose sight of their actions, which leaves them vulnerable to hurting themselves. Both untreated SUD and self-harm can lead to long-term effects such as depression, self-esteem issues, and mental or emotional issues.

Resisting the Urge to Self-Harm

Therapy helps with healing this condition. However, some techniques can help teens manage their urges.

  • Distraction: Writing, exercise, meditation, watching a movie, or calling a friend, can serve as distractions until the urges pass.
  • Soothe and Calming Techniques: Finding a healthy method to relieve stressful emotions such as meditation, exercise, a bath, breathing exercises, self-care activities, walking nature, or hanging out with friends are great ways to help teens relax.
    • Express Pain and Deep Emotion: Many teens find it challenging to find a safe person to express their feelings – especially the painful ones. There is always the fear that their peers or loved ones will judge them or that they will not be supportive of them. At Clearfork Academy, we recommend practicing active listening and refraining from judging.
  • Connect With Others: Connecting with supportive people benefits recovery and long-term wellbeing. Such settings help teenagers connect through hobbies, sports, or volunteering. Participating in these activities helps teens live well and avoid destructive choices.
  • Release Tension: Some teens who self-harm use it for the sensation of releasing tension from their bodies. When tension builds for an extended period of time, our bodies become sick with the stress. Those who self-harm can use relaxation techniques such as massages, stretching, or pilates to gain the same sensation.

Help Your Teen Cope With Their Emotions

Being overwhelmed is normal when teens face the emotions associated with school stress. Many teens do not tell their parents about their self-harm because they feel ashamed. To help create a safe environment for teens to feel sad, mad, frustrated, or scared requires assisting teens to develop healthy ways to manage their stress or pain. 

Consider working through their feelings with them by doing things they enjoy, such as playing a game, reading a book, or watching a funny movie. Additionally, consider a treatment program like the intensive outpatient program offered at Clearfork Academy. 

Self-harm is most often used as a form of emotional self-regulation to cope with painful emotions.  Teens who turn to self-harm may also experience guilt, anxiety, and depression. Such feelings could also result in them turning to drugs or alcohol. Therefore it is crucial to understand the underlying causes of your teens’ behavior, and Clearfork Academy can help. We provide resources for teens to manage their urges to self-harm through cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), motivational interviewing, problem-solving skills training, and trauma-focused treatment. With us, teens will develop healthy habits to help them avoid self-harm urges long after treatment. If your teenager is currently struggling to overcome their self-harm behaviors, then the time to get help is now. We offer admissions 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so there is never a wrong time to reach out. To learn more, contact us at Clearfork Academy today and call (855) 580-1638.