Teen Self Injury Treatment
What is teen self injury? It is a psychological impulse-control disorder that leads people to physically harm themselves (such as cutting or burning) in order to find relief from mental or emotional angst. Teen Self Injury Disorder involves inflicting pain upon themselves as a means to punish themselves according to feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment, and/or low self-worth. Furthermore, the physical, visible pain they inflict upon themselves is a sort of distraction from, or expression of, the inward, invisible pain they’re experiencing.
Because the body naturally releases endorphins in response to an injury, people can become addicted to the natural drug that helps to alleviate physical pain and provide a sense of well-being, thereby addicting them to the violent act. Because of this, often people suffering from Self-Injury Disorder will also be experiencing symptoms of other mental illness, such as anxiety, Depression, or an Eating Disorder.
What Teen Self Injury Looks Like
It could be considered counter-intuitive that a person who self injures (often making visible marks on themselves) tend to try to hide their injuries from others, but this is often the case. Paradoxically, self injury is also often considered a person’s cry for help, as they secretly want others to notice and see the pain they’re experiencing. However, this discrepancy can make it very difficult for surrounding friends and family to notice what’s happening and/or the severity of the person’s condition. That being said, there are still a number of evident behaviors often present in people who are injuring themselves, including, but not limited to:
- Strange scars on the body
- Wearing long sleeves, pants, or skirts that may be intentionally hiding marks, especially when the weather doesn’t warrant such clothing
- Fresh cuts, scratches, and/or bruises on the skin regularly
- Dismissal of cuts, etc. as the person just being clumsy or accident prone
- Agitated repetitive behaviors, such as: biting, scratching, pulling hair, or any other pain-inducing act
There are several different approaches to teen self injury treatment that tend to be more or less successful, depending on the particular person, and the length of time the person undergoes the treatment.
Talk Therapy: Because Adolescent Self Harm Disorder has strong mental and physical attributes, this type of therapy can help address people on both levels of their illness. Although people can feel resistant to, and afraid of, treatment at first, often once they begin to work with a therapist, there is some immediate relief provided, simply knowing that they’re no longer maintaining a “secret” of their behavior. This can be helpful especially if people are harming themselves, partly out of an effort to cry for help and make someone notice the gravity of what they’re experiencing. Beyond this, a therapist can help people understand the relationship between what they’re feeling and they’re urge to inflict pain upon themselves as a means to address it. And with time, a therapist can help people to learn a healthier way to view themselves, the aspects of their emotional pain, while learning safe, effective ways to find relief.
Alongside all of this, a therapist can also help hold a person responsible for the ways they’re choosing to deal with their feelings and thoughts, gradually helping the person to resist the urge to hurt themselves, despite how strong that urge might be. Many times, a therapist serving as an outside observer to the behavior will help people to take their actions more seriously, and/or bring a different level of awareness to the choices they’re making.
Medication: Because there are often strong aspects of anxiety or Depression related to Self-Injury Disorder, medication can be a powerful tool in helping people recover from the disorder. For people with the disorder, the link between their severe feelings of unrest are directly tied to their need to hurt themselves, and so, a medication which can help provide relief from this emotional pain can begin to hopefully lessen their urge to harm themselves.
What if I self-Injure but I’m not sure whether or not I want anyone to know?
It’s common for people with Self-Injury Disorder to be torn between wanting help and also, wanting to keep their secret. Often, people will have some feelings of hoping someone notices their marks, and at the same time, being careful to hide them. So it’s understandable if you aren’t sure whether you want help or want anything to change. Often we’re more comfortable dealing with the pain we have now than opening ourselves up to something new, which might hurt less, but feel different.
The bottom line is, even if you think you have a good reason for doing so, and think you have it under control, if you’re hurting yourself, you no longer have control. You may feel that it’s your secret that you have power over, and that the physical pain is easier to deal with than the emotional, but in truth, you’re not helping yourself get through either one. Instead, you’re actually making it worse for yourself, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.
It can be scary to need help and very scary to ask for it, but still less scary than living in a place where you feel so alone that you’re hurting yourself, just to get by. So don’t be afraid to talk; it’s your first step toward teen self injury treatment and recovery!
Are people who Self-Injure more likely to hurt other people too?
Generally, no, because these people are harming themselves in reaction to, and as an expression of, the pain they’re feeling.
What if someone I love self-injures themselves?
It can be extremely difficult to watch someone you love suffer, and it can feel even more uncomfortable to see them cause harm to themselves. If you’re unsure whether someone you care about is hurting themselves, or if you know, but don’t know how to help, the first step is to be honest. There is no perfect way to address such a difficult thing, but the best support they can hope for is to be surrounded by people who sensitively acknowledge where they are and what they’re feeling, without judging them for their behavior. After all, their treatment and healing has to begin somewhere, and that might involve you helping them begin.