There is more to self-injury behavior than what meets the eye

There is more to self-injury behavior than what meets the eye

The recent news in social media and certain reports have revealed that the urge to self-harm or inflict injury on oneself is becoming quite common, especially among adolescents and young adults. Some associate this kind of behavior with possible mental health problems, though psychologists maintain that such a tendency indicates lack of coping skills during times of emotional distress.

Causing self-injury classified as a self-mutilation disorder involves tendencies of causing harm to oneself repeatedly. This behavior may stem out of impulsive tendencies, though mental health specialists do not observe it as fatal. These uncomfortable emotions tend to become more intense as the affected person finds it increasingly difficult to deal with the challenges of life. The most common ways of causing self-harm are:

  • Skin cutting and burning
  • Banging head against the wall
  • Excessive scratching of skin to the extent of drawing blood
  • Breaking bones intentionally
  • Inserting sharp objects into body openings
  • Consuming poisonous substances, including bleach and detergents

Estimating prevalence of self-harming behavior

Self-injury statistics reflect the commonality of the disorder and the extent to which this problem exists among Americans. Figures published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suggest that roughly two million cases of self-injury are reported in the U.S. every year. Researchers in a study titled “Nonsuicidal Self-Injury: A Review of Current Research for Family Medicine and Primary Care Physicians” indicate how adolescents are more likely to harm themselves, with the risk of injury ranging from 17 to 35 percent among college students.

The researchers in the study published online in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine wrote, “The presence of psychopathology elevates the probability of self-injurious behaviors and thoughts, and self-injury is associated with more symptoms and greater severity of psychopathology among both men and women. Approximately 2 percent to 20 percent of psychiatric populations, in aggregate, report self-injury.”

Causes and symptoms of self-injury behavior

Physicians say that the factors responsible for self-injury behavior may be genetic, physical and environmental. They maintain that the most mental illnesses that are manifested as self-injurious behavior or trigger an impulse to self-harm get passed through generations owing to their genetic component. In addition, an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain may cause some people to injure themselves. Besides, the inability to cope with some traumatic experience or exposure to stressful incidents, company of like-minded people who injure themselves, and undiagnosed mental illnesses or addictive habits, may increase the possibility of engaging in self-harming tendencies. Common symptoms of self-injury behavior may include the following:

  • Frequent scars, fresh scratches or cuts;
  • Permanent blemishes at some places;
  • Fractured bones;
  • Patches of empty scalp owing to missing hair;
  • Constant feelings of worthlessness;
  • Tendency to question about one’s own personal identity;
  • Emotionally unstable behavior;
  • Continual mood swings;
  • Depressive behavior;
  • Social isolation.

Though not a psychiatric disorder in itself, self-harming behavior may co-occur with other mental health conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), borderline personality disorder (BPD), eating disorders, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and substance abuse.

First step to complete recovery

Though specialists do not classify self-injury behavior as a grave mental illness, it is a definite symptom of the affected person grappling with some kind of acute stress or anxiety. For such people, it is necessary to avail of necessary professional help immediately. Experts at Sovereign Health not only help people get rid of serious mental health problems like depression and anxiety, but also recommend behavioral interventions for recovery from associated problems like self-harm. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 to know about our self-injury disorder treatment centers in California. You may also get in touch with our online representatives for more information about our centers offering self-injury disorder treatment in California.

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