Teen Self-injury Treatment

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Self-harm is a very real, very serious risk for adolescents all across the country. Every year, 1 in 5 females and 1 in 7 males engage in self-harm behavior, many of whom are teenagers. In fact, researchers have found that 90 percent of people who self-harm begin during their teen years – or even younger.

What Is Self-Injury Disorder?

Self-harm – also known as self-injury – is an unhealthy coping mechanism that involves hurting oneself on purpose.

Although many people believe self-harm only involves cutting, self-harm comes in many forms.

Examples of self-harm include (but are not limited to):

  • Picking at wounds
  • Burning
  • Pulling out hair
  • Slapping
  • Tugging at skin
  • Hitting
  • Cutting

Self-harm itself is not a mental illness, but may be indicative of poor coping mechanisms or a serious mental problem. Mental illnesses associated with self-harm include borderline personality disorder, depression, eating disorders, anxiety and PTSD.

What Causes Self Injury?

People participate in self-injury for a variety of reasons. Some people do it in an attempt to “punish” themselves for perceived wrongdoing, whereas others may do it to relieve negative emotions such as anger, frustration or pain. Self-injury releases the body’s natural painkillers, or endorphins, which can elevate mood and cause individuals to become addicted to injuring themselves.

People who are at the greatest risk of engaging in self-injury are those with a history of trauma, neglect or abuse. Other people may self-harm because they’re dealing with untreated or undertreated mental illness. People who use drugs are also at a greater risk of engaging in self-injury in part because drugs inhibit self-control.

A common misconception is that adolescents self-harm just to receive attention. This is not true. In fact, the majority of individuals who engage in self-harm behavior hide it from other people out of shame. Those who do 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.

Treatments for Self-injury Disorder

Self-harm, like any other behavioral disorder, can be treated at self-injury treatment centers.

Psychotherapy can be used to teach adolescents healthy coping mechanisms and fight self-harm “cravings.” Types of psychotherapy include talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy and cognitive remediation. With proper therapeutic intervention, teens can learn how to manage their emotions, correct negative thought patterns and better communicate their needs.

Psychiatric medication can also help reduce the risk of self-harm, particularly for adolescents who are struggling with an underlying mental health disorder. As an example, an adolescent who self-harms may have an underlying mood disorder that is fueling his or her self-harm habits. Reducing the symptoms associated with the mood disorder may then make it easier to resist the urge to self-harm.

In the end, it’s important to remember that self-injury treatment that works for one person may not necessarily work for another. Adolescents and their guardians should be open to trying multiple treatment for self-injury approaches to figure out the best way to curb self-harm behavior.

Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego provides self-injury treatment for teens and adolescents which includes an accurate diagnosis and comprehensive treatment programs. For more information about self-harm and Sovereign Health’s teen treatment program, contact our 24/7 helpline.

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