Why You Should Seek Treatment for Self Harm
Self Harm | The effects of self-harm do not begin and end with the physical damage done to the body. In fact, it can be said that the psychological effects are more damaging. If you think about it, the mental state required to bring about self-harm in the first place implies an individual is struggling greatly with negative thoughts and emotions. And it is just these thoughts and feelings - and the person’s inability to manage them - that poses a huge risk to well-being. Some of the physical consequences of self-harm include scarring and wounds, bald spots, infection, and nerve damage. Psychologically, someone who self-harms might have low self-esteem, depression, as well as feelings of shame and guilt.
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Self Harm Treatment
What is Self Harm?
Self-harm, or self-injury, refers to the condition where an individual purposely harms their body. This condition doesn’t usually mean the person is suicidal, but rather that the injury and pain inflicted helps them deal with emotional and psychological pain. People who self-harm often describe strong feelings of relief and a sense of calm right after they hurt themselves. It’s as if the physical release of tension allows for a mental release as well. This might seem harmless in and of itself, because the person’s desire is never to do any serious damage to themselves. However, if left unchecked, the situation can progress to a point where self-injury does become life-threatening.
Symptoms of Self Harm
Because self-harm involves both physical and psychological effects, the symptoms also range between these two aspects. The more obvious physical signs are easier to spot: scars on the arms or upper thighs, fresh bruises and cuts, and wearing long sleeves and pants to hide scarring. Constant agitation could lead to excessive rubbing of an area until a burn appears. Added to that, people who self-harm always have on hand the tool they use to hurt themselves. This might be a sharp object if they cut, or a lighter to create burns. Psychologically, someone who self-harms will have difficulty maintaining interpersonal relationships, they may come across as emotionally unstable, and make frequent statements about feeling hopeless and helpless.
Causes of Self Harm
Reasons why someone may self-harm varies from person to person. However, the bottom line is constant: they are overwhelmed by negative emotions. This means that when looking for causes, we have to consider factors that might lead people to feel this way. As a result, the range of causes extend from social to emotional distress and psychological issues. Social reasons include problems at work or school, and financial problems. Also, experiencing trauma, like sexual abuse, could also lead to self-harm as a coping mechanism. Emotional distress and mental disorders, like depression and borderline personality disorder could also lead to self-injury.
Treatment for Self Harm
Psychotherapy has proved to be effective in treating people who self-harm. This is because it addresses any underlying factors, like depression, that may be causing the behaviour. There are three forms this therapy can take: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, and Mindfulness-based Therapies. With CBT, sessions are used to modify negative thought patterns that leads to harmful behaviours. These are replaced with healthier ways of thinking about the self and the world, which leads to better ways of coping. Dialectical therapy teaches the individual to regulate their emotions. It also focuses on improving interpersonal relationships. Finally, structured mindfulness teaches the individual to be present in the moment and eradicates feeling overwhelmed by emotion.
Although there is no medication that will directly treat self-harm as a condition in itself, prescribed drugs can be used to address associated psychological issues. For instance, if the patient is also diagnosed with a mental disorder, like depression or anxiety, certain medications can be used to manage the symptoms. In treating mental illness, someone who self-harms will regain a sense of control over their life and themselves. This then leads to a marked reduction in emotional distress. More to the fact, patients don’t feel so overwhelmed by the difficulties and stress experienced in life and relationships. As a result of this, they are less inclined to harm themselves.
Along with therapy and medication, there are some natural ways in which patients can improve their condition. For example, determine what triggers negative emotions – whether it’s a situation or relationship dynamic – and make a point of avoiding it. By steering clear of triggers you will create a safe space to heal without being distracted by emotional distress. Another important aspect of holistic healing is physical health. This means that regular exercise and a balanced, nutritious diet should be part of your lifestyle. Additionally, mindful meditation will help develop relaxation techniques that can be used to cope with stressful situations.