Self-Harming

Self-Harming

By: Liz Lynch

Self-harming is classified by the Statistical and Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as non-suicidal self-injury disorder (NSSID). It is an actual disorder that many people often write off as an angsty teens way of getting attention. While self-harming often starts in the teenage years it can persist long into adulthood which has a number of physical, emotional, and social consequences. To most people self-harming is an obvious thing not to do; however, what they don’t realize is that self-harming releases soothing, pain-killing chemicals such as endorphins and endocannabinoids which brings on a feeling of relief.

Why doesn’t everyone do it then? Well research suggests that people who self-harm have significantly lower levels of these naturally produced endorphins. This mean that some people are in a way compensating for these lower levels by self-harming just to feel “normal” without even realizing it. This disorder can bring on a lot of shame and guilt for the sufferer causing them to hide their personal abuse making it more difficult to identify and aid.

Types of Self-harming:

  • Cutting
  • Scratching
  • Burning
  • Biting
  • Hitting or punching one’s self
  • Banging head or other body parts against another surface
  • Piercing the skin with sharp objects (not including body jewelry)
  • Pulling out hair
  • Abusing alcohol / medication

Reasons people self-harm:

  • Provides them with temporary relief of negative emotions
  • Provides them with a distraction from chaotic thoughts and emotions
  • Provides them with a sense of control
  • Form of self-punishment from guilt or shame
  • Sees it as a way to express emotions

Need Immediate Aid?

  • Call 911
  • Call 1-800-273-TALK (24-hour hotline)
  • Text the Crisis Line at 741741 (24-hour text line)
  • For therapy see information below

          If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from self-harm, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

Advertisements

Self-Harm

By Samantha Glosser

Self-harm, also known as self-injury, is becoming far more common than it used to be. Studies have shown that around two to three million Americans engage in self-harm every year. However, despite the growing number of people who inflict harm on themselves, self-harm is still a topic that many people do not want to talk about. It can be a scary and uncomfortable topic to discuss, but avoiding conversations about this topic creates a cycle of stereotypes and misinformation that will make people who harm themselves feel alone and that they cannot ask for help. In opening up the discussion about self-harm, there are a few important things to note.

What is self-harm? Self-harm can be defined as the act of inflicting deliberate injury onto oneself. This includes, but is not limited to, the following: cutting, burning, bruising, pulling hair, and breaking bones. Self-harm is not a sign of suicidality, it is a coping mechanism individuals have adapted to deal with various types of deep emotional distress.

Why do people self-harm? Like most mental health issues, the cause of self-harm cannot be attributed to one factor. There are numerous different reasons that someone might turn to self-harm as a coping mechanism. These reasons include, but are not limited to, the following: loss of control over emotions, feeling numb or empty, confusion about sexual or gender identity, bullying, and physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Self-harm allows sufferers to turn emotional pain into physical pain, or it allows them to feel something when they are numb and empty.

Who engages in self-harm? Self-harm does not discriminate. It can affect you no matter your age, race, or gender. However, there are a few groups who are at a higher risk for self-harm according to recent research. These groups include the following: LGBTQ+ individuals, people aged 12-25, individuals battling addiction, and individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and eating disorders. Often times you will not even know that someone is struggling with self-harm, because those who harm themselves commonly go to great lengths to keep their behavior a secret.

Can self-harm be treated? Although self-harm is not considered a mental disorder, there are still treatment options available. Treatment consists of psychotherapy which helps the individual to identify what causes them to self-harm and teaches them coping mechanisms that do not rely on bodily harm.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from self-harm, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/


Sources: Grohol, J. M. (n.d.). Cutting and Self-Injury [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/blog/cutting-and-self-injury/

Lyons, N. (n.d.). Self-Harm: The Myths & the Facts [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/embracing-balance/2015/07/self-harm-the-myths-the-facts

What is Self Injury (SI)? (2016, July 17). Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-self-injury-si/