What Are the Types of Self-Injury?
The most common types of self-injury include:
- Frequent cuts and burns that cannot be explained
- Self-punching or scratching
- Needle sticking
- Head banging
- Finger or arm biting
- Pulling out one's hair
- Picking at one's skin
Warning Signs of Self-Injury
Signs that an individual may be engaging in self-injury include:
- Wearing pants and long sleeves in warm weather
- The appearance of lighters, razors, or sharp objects that one would not expect among a person's belongings
- Low self-esteem
- Difficulty handling feelings
- Relationship problems
- Poor functioning at work, school, or home
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:
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.
Antidepressants, low-dose antipsychotics, or anti-anxiety medication may be used to reduce the initial impulsive response to stress.