Self-injury (also called self-harm), an act of causing intentional and direct injury to body tissue, is a growing concern among American adolescents. Nearly 10 percent of high school boys and 25 percent of high school girls in the United States injure themselves by means of burning their own skin or cutting themselves. The problem was found most prevalent among 14-year-olds. The incidence declines as the age increases.
Adolescents thinking about or attempting suicide or experiencing sadness are more likely to commit self-injury. In addition, drug or alcohol use, indulgence in fighting, electronic bullying and experiencing forced sex also contribute to self-injury in adolescents. Social factors like poor parenting practices, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and negative peer behavior, may also raise one’s risk of self-injury.
The following signs may indicate a self-harming tendency in an individual:
Experts do not regard self-injury as a mental illness. It is a negative behavior that arises from lack of coping skills. Self-injury or self-harm is also known to co-exist with other behavioral problems like depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The urge to cause self-injury may begin with an overwhelming sense of frustration, pain or anger. People, finding it difficult to deal with emotions, or used to hiding their emotions since childhood are more vulnerable and likely to harm themselves. People, complaining of not feeling many emotions are also susceptible to harming themselves as the pain helps them replace their emotional numbness. Generally, self-harm is not intended at suicide. In fact, it reflects one’s inability to manage emotional pain, which needs immediate medical attention to avoid suicidal behavior.
Self-injury is a treatable condition. Effective treatment strategies are available to help people with self-harm tendencies recover and feel in control again. Psychotherapy can be efficacious in helping teens learn to manage their emotions and avoiding self-harming behavior. In addition, teens in distress also need to learn coping techniques to deal with the thoughts of injuring themselves.
While behavioral therapy is essential in all cases of self-harm, a physician may also prescribe certain medications to help patients deal with the difficult emotions. Antidepressants, for example, may be effective in managing harmful urges. Depending on the diagnosis, a doctor may recommend the following therapies to people showing self-harming behavior.
This therapy focuses on analyzing if any past experiences and emotions are leading to the self-harming episodes.
CBT intends to recognize negative thought patterns as well as helping patients enhance their coping skills
DBT helps a person with self-harming behavior learn and adopt positive coping methods to decimate violent thoughts.
Adolescents or teens displaying overwhelming or severe symptoms of self-injury may need a short stay in a psychiatric facility. At ADEONA Healthcare, we ensure that teens suffering from behavioral problems get an optimum healthy environment. Moreover, we offer evidence-based treatment strategies to help people under distress cope with their problems and recover in minimum possible time. Call us for information about the behavioral health problems and effective treatment strategies.
A common misconception is that adolescents and teen indulge in self-harm to attract attention. This is not true. In fact, the majority of individuals, engaging in self-harm behavior hide it from other people out of shame. Those indulging in self-harm for “attention” are often trying to get the adults in their lives to recognize that they are in mental turmoil and require treatment.
Other teens may self-harm because they might be dealing with untreated or undertreated mental illnesses. Additionally, teens using drugs and/or alcohol are also at a greater risk of engaging in self-injury in part because drugs inhibit self-control. In either of the conditions, it is essential that a treatment strategy is planned to address all the underlying causes simultaneously so that the teens learns to love themselves and refrain from using self-harm as a coping mechanism.
Treatment therapist at ADEONA Healthcare specialize in identifying any and all underlying cause leading to such behavioral problems. They understand the triggers and devise a treatment plan keeping the special requirements of the teen in mind.
For more information about how ADEONA Healthcare can help your teen develop better coping mechanisms, call our 24/7 helpline (888) 379-9360. You can also chat online with a representative from our admissions team for further assistance.