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Self-harming Disorder – All You Need to Know About

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In the case of self-harm, an individual starts hurting themselves without context. It isn’t a suicidal attempt but can be a way for individuals to cope up with their emotional distress. Unable to express their thoughts/feelings openly, peer pressure, anxiety, depression, etc., are some common signs that indicate the onset of self-harm. One can observe it preliminary in cases when the individual transitions from childhood to adolescence. If you are looking for treatment options, consult experienced professionals at Cadabams Hospital and expedite your recovery process.

What is self-harm behaviour?

Self-harm behaviour is defined as any form of self destructive behaviour that one engages in such as cutting, burning, excessive body piercing, tattooing, head banging on the wall or any hard object/surface. Unconscious behaviours such as hair pulling or pulling at skin, reopening wounds are also considered self-harming behaviours.

Reasons for Self Harm

The exact reasons that lead one to engage in self-harming behaviours can’t be found out all the time. Individuals of any age, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or even religion are susceptible to such behaviours. However, there are certain background causes that lead to this.

For instance, individuals with a history of sexual abuse, physcial or psychological turmoil are more likely to engage in self destructive behaviours such as cutting wrists, banging heads, willingly injuring themselves, etc.

Individuals with a track record of substance abuse, and those who are suffering from OCD, and eating disorders are also highly prone to self-harming disorder. Individuals who lack family support or an external support network to express their feelings may also engage in such behaviours. Low self esteem, relationship problems, poor cognitive performance in daily life are also some of the reasons of self-harming behaviour.

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How to Help Someone Who Self Harms

It is quite obvious that individuals with self-harming tendencies need help from their near and dear ones as well as from mental health professionals. However, it is equally unlikely that they will come forward to seek the assistance. At such a juncture, family and friends have to stay vigilant for the tell-tale signs of extreme depression and self-harming behaviours. Here are some of the warning signs to watch out for.

Warning Signs of Self harm

  • Using phrases like “I’d be better off dead” or “I wish I had never been born”
  • Accessing lethal means of harm such as gaining access to pills, knives, or guns that could lead the person to attempt suicide
  • Being preoccupied with thoughts of death
  • Exhibiting signs of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Exhibiting signs of shame, guilt.
  • Getting their affairs in order and making out a will, giving away possessions, or making final arrangements “just in case”
  • Saying final goodbyes to family and friends
  • Withdrawing from society and isolating themselves from family and friends.
  • Exhibiting self harming behavior such as using drugs and alcohol or participating in unsafe sex
  • A sudden sense of peace and happiness after being in a depressed state.

How can you help someone who is depressed and may be on their way to feeling there is no help? Remember these simple things in mind to help someone who is showing self harming behavior.

  1. If a family member or a friend shows the above warning signs of self-harming behavior, firstly, do not ignore any of these warning signs in them.
  2. Secondly, Don’t leave them alone.
  3. Don’t leave them alone.
  4. Remove any lethal threat they may be able to use to hurt themselves.
  5. Have a plan of action ready in case you feel that their plan of action may be imminent.
  6. Offering help and support is the best way to help, but stepping in to stop them is the best way to prevent it.
  7. Encourage them to make some healthy lifestyle changes like getting plenty of sleep, eating a healthy diet, getting out and being active, getting plenty of sunlight.

If you feel the person isn’t in immediate danger, you can say things like, “I can tell you’re really hurt”, and “I care about you and will do my best to help you.”

Then follow through – help them find a mental health professional. Getting counseling is crucial for the most high risk and severe risk cases. Be by their side when they make that first phone call, or go along with them to their first appointment. It’s not a good idea to leave it up to a person to get help on their own. Being supportive can mean so much to the one who’s in pain.

It is important that you continue on with your support over the duration. Don’t start supporting them then let it dwindle off and stop. The warning signs of suicide may return and no one will be there to notice.

Treatment Options for Self-harming disorder

  • Psychotherapy – Psychotherapy or counselling wherein a trained mental health professional speaks to the individual who is at the risk of engaging in self destructive behaviour is highly recommended. It may help the individual to gain a clear understanding of the circumstances and his/her thoughts and feelings, and encourage his/her to stay away from injurious activities.
  • Dialectical Behavioural Therapy – These therapeutic interventions are either imparted to a group or an individual based on the extent of self-injurious impulses and aim at helping these individuals gain control over their impulses. They can learn new coping strategies or ways to vent out their frustrations in other ways that are not self-destructive.
  • Post-traumatic Stress Therapies – As we have already discussed, any form or trauma-led stress can lead one to engage in self-harming behaviours. So, post-traumatic stress therapies can work wonders and help these individuals with a history or abuse or trauma.
  • Family Therapy – As we know family is the greatest support network one has. Family is what stands with you during the thick or thin. Family therapy aims at bringing together the individual and his/her family members to discuss the situations/triggers that may potentially lead to self-harming disorder and devise the treatment roadmap accordingly.

Apart from the above, hypnosis, relaxation techniques, and medications can also be considered as potential preventive/treatment measures for discouraging self-harming behaviours.

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Why Cadabams?

At Cadabams, we ensure that you and your loved ones get the treatment you need and deserve. Our team of psychiatrists is an expert in psychosocial rehabilitation, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT), and family-focused therapy that has proven to be highly effective in alleviating the symptoms of self-harming disorder.

We have over two decades of expertise in handling the most complex and severe self-harming-related challenges. Our multispecialty team of psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors, physicians work round the clock and are with you every step of the way. We offer world-class evidence-based treatment.

Cadabams is widely trusted by various healthcare experts to help individuals suffering from self-harming disorders varying in the extent of severity. It is a comfortable facility where individuals are treated with attention, love, care, and concern. We offer an exclusive range of solutions and treatments based on the condition and issues faced by an individual.

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

FAQs on Self-harming disorder: All your Queries Answered

  • Is self-harming behaviour addictive?

Yes, certain studies cite that self-harming behaviour can be addictive like drug addiction or substance abuse addiction. Individuals often engage in self-harming to release their pent-up frustrations, endorphins and stimulate their body’s endogenous opioid system.

They tend to engage in constant self-harm and may feel less painful over time and may increase one’s pain tolerance. So, this explains the repetitive and cyclic urge to repeat self-harming behaviors after periods of cessation.

  • Can self-harm lead to suicide?

The self-harming tendencies vary from individual to individual. While some may resort to pulling at hair or skin, which are considered mild symptoms, some may resort to cutting wrists or banging heads, which can be more fatal.

However, self-harming does not necessarily lead to suicide. Individuals often tend to harm themselves just to get a temporary respite from the mental trauma they are suffering from or as a way to punish themselves for the supposedly negative act they have performed. However, all self-harming behaviours may not lead to suicide.

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