How Is Self-Injury Diagnosed?
If an individual shows signs of self-injury, a mental health professional with self-injury expertise should be consulted. The mental health professional will be able to make an evaluation and recommend a course of treatment. Self-injury can be a symptom of psychiatric illness including:
How Is Self-Injury Treated?
Common treatments for self-injury include:
- Psychotherapy: can be used to help a person stop engaging in self-injury.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): may be used to help an individual learn to recognize and address triggering feelings in healthier ways.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT):): proven to be one of the most effective types of therapy for treating those who self-injure by teaching skills for tolerating emotional distress and coping with interpersonal or other stressful experiences.
- Post-traumatic stress therapies: These may be helpful for self-injurers who have a history of abuse or incest.
- Group therapy: Talking about your condition in a group setting to people who have similar problems may be helpful in decreasing the shame associated with self-harm, and in supporting healthy expression of emotions.
- Family therapy: This type of therapy addresses any history of family stress related to the behavior and can help family members learn to communicate more directly and openly with each other.
- Hypnosis and other relaxation techniques: These approaches are helpful in reducing the stress and tension that often precede incidents of self-injury.
- Medications: Antidepressants, low-dose antipsychotics, or anti-anxiety medication may be used to reduce the initial impulsive response to stress.
What Is the Outlook for People Who Engage in Self-Injury?
The prognosis for self-injury varies depending upon a person's emotional or psychological state. It is important to determine the factors that lead an individual's self-injuring behaviors. It also is important to identify whether self-injury is one symptom of a particular personality disorder that needs to be treated.