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Myths and Facts about Self-Harm in Adolescents

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Self-harming in adolescents is the act of intentionally harming or injuring their bodies. It’s a harmful way of coping with intense frustration and anger or deep emotional pain.

While this practice may bring a momentary sense of relief and help release tension for some time, self-injuring teenagers may feel ashamed or guilty once the relaxing feeling passes off.

Although they typically don’t intend to expose themselves to life-threatening injuries, self-harming in adolescents may lead to more severe consequences than they had ever imagined.

To learn healthier and better ways to cope with their problems, getting appropriate treatment is crucial.

Busting Myths about Self-Harming in Adolescents

Did you know that there are plenty of misconceptions about self-harming in adolescents? Here are a few self-injury myths and facts to help you learn more about this kind of behavior:-

  • Teens who harm themselves don’t feel pain

Like any other injury, self-harm often hurts a lot. Sometimes, adolescents injure themselves only to feel that pain. As per them, they experience negligible feelings, no matter how hard they try.

When dealing with inner mental turmoil becomes a challenge, they start feeling that the best workaround is to experience physical pain to minimize their emotional distress.

These physical injuries not only affect their mental state but also makes them feel excruciating pain.

  • They injure themselves to seek attention

Most adolescents who engage in self-harming behavior do all they can to hide their scars, burns, or cuts from other people, which indicates that they do not self-injure themselves to grab attention. However, for some, it still comes forth as an attention-seeking act.

But instead of brushing it off, think of it this way – if an adolescent is going to the extent of seeking attention by harming themselves, he/she must be in dire need of some help.

Whether self-injuring adolescents want attention or not, the best way to help alleviate their distress is by lending an ear to them when they need it the most.  

  • Self-harming in adolescents is just a phase

Self-injury is not just a phase that you expect teens to outgrow at some point in time. There is no guarantee that they will stop injuring themselves or others in their vicinity after stepping into adulthood.

There is a possibility that self-harming adolescents are battling with mental health conditions like depression, stress, or anxiety.

While many adolescents may use self-harm as a defense mechanism to cope with their pain or stress, ignoring it may lead to disastrous consequences. So, provide them your help and support whenever possible.

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  • Cutting is the only form of self-injury

Even though cutting is the most common method of self-harm, there are various other forms that you must know. A few of these include hair-pulling, burning, biting, and scratching the skin.

Some adolescents may use multiple methods of self-harm, while others may stick to one particular form of self-injury.

  • Teens who self-harm are manipulative

Typically, adolescents don’t show self-harming behavior to manipulate others. Most of them harm themselves to relieve their stress and tension, as per the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery (CRPSIR).

If you find your teenage kid injuring themselves repeatedly, this self-harming practice may be a cry to you for help rather than being a manipulative act.

  • All self-harming adolescents are suicidal

Self-harming in adolescents may indeed lead them to feel suicidal after a point in time. But that’s not guaranteed to happen in all such cases.

Studies show that teenagers who self-injure often try to cope with their overwhelming feelings of negativity or manage their tension and stress.

As a result, some teens undertake self-injury rather than resorting to other fatal options like committing suicide.

  • Self-injury is a sign of Madness

There’s this misconception that self-injuring adolescents should be locked up because they’re insane or abnormal. But would you say the same for an alcoholic who drinks liquor only to forget his or her sorrows? No.

Teens who burn or cut themselves do so to cope with their mental anguish and drown their anxieties. However, society doesn’t accept this kind of coping mechanism, as they fail to understand its underlying reasons.

Of course, self-harming in adolescents can’t be justified, but that doesn’t mean that you should treat them as lunatics. They deserve your attention, love, care, and understanding as much as other people.

How is Self-Harming in Adolescents Treated?

If you are on the lookout for the best treatment options for self-harming in adolescents, these are the options you must try:

  • Psychotherapy

It includes family therapy, mindfulness-based therapy, behavioral therapy, and group therapy. With the help of psychological counseling, therapists may minimize the feeling of self-harm. As a part of this treatment, doctors teach you different ways to manage distress, handle emotions, and identify the underlying issues that trigger the self-injuring behavior.

  • Psychiatric hospitalization

If the individual is injuring themselves repeatedly, they require intensive medical or mental health treatment. For this reason, the doctors may recommend admitting them into a hospital wherein they would get a safe environment.

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How Can You Help an Adolescent who Self-Injures?

  • Try to understand the reason

You may feel impatient with the adolescent when they are injuring themselves continuously. However, keep in mind that yelling, criticizing, or threatening them may only increase their risk of self-harming behavior. Instead, try finding out the underlying reasons that trigger them to undertake such drastic steps.

Once you get to the bottom of it, you may be able to do something to help your loved one.

  • Encourage the teenager to express emotions in positive ways

Self-harming is a wrong form of expressing inner thoughts and feelings. You can instead ask them to participate in co-curricular activities like dance, music, or sports. You can even encourage them to practice meditation daily.

These activities will not only improve their sense of well-being but will also bring their inner turmoil to rest.

  • Let them know that you care

Keep reminding the self-injuring teenager that you are right beside them if they need a listener. Let them know that they can openly vent out their feelings in front of you and that they are not alone.

  • Ask others for support

Taking care of yourself is critical too, so if you feel too overwhelmed with trying to change the behavior of self-harming in adolescents, reach out to others for help, even if it means taking assistance from your family or friends.

  • Motivate the adolescent to stick to the treatment plan

Let the self-injuring teenager know that they must take their prescribed medications (if any) on time and regularly schedule the therapy appointments to expedite their recovery process.

Why Cadabams Hospitals?

Cadabams Hospitals comes with a qualified team of professionals who possess decades of experience in various medical domains. The professionals include psychotherapists, counselors, psychiatrists, physicians, and family therapists, who assure you of the best treatment to minimize self-harming in adolescents. You get customized healthcare plans that suit your medical condition the best.

Call us on our mental health helpline +91 96111 94949 for further details.

Disclaimer – We strive to treat our patients with dignity and the utmost sensitivity. We understand that self-harming is not a sign of weakness. We don’t use any term in a derogatory fashion but to remain relevant to user search trends and common usage. In case you or a loved share a unique viewpoint on how we can improve this content for our readers, please reach out to us at

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