Self-harm, or self-injury, is when a person hurts his or her own body on purpose. The injuries may be minor, but sometimes they can be severe. They may leave permanent scars or cause serious health problems. Some examples are
Self-harm is not a mental disorder. It is a behavior - an unhealthy way to cope with strong feelings. However, some of the people who harm themselves do have a mental disorder.
People who harm themselves are usually not trying to kill themselves. But they are at higher risk of attempting suicide if they do not get help.
There are different reasons why people harm themselves. Often, they have trouble coping and dealing with their feelings. They harm themselves to try to
There are people of all ages who harm themselves, but it usually starts in the teen or early adult years. Self-harm is more common in people who
Signs that someone may be hurting themselves include
If someone you know is self-harming, it is important not to be judgmental. Let that person know that you want to help. If the person is a child or teenager, ask him or her to talk to a trusted adult. If he or she won't do that, talk to a trusted adult yourself. If the person who is self-harming is an adult, suggest mental health counseling.
There are no medicines to treat self-harming behaviors. But there are medicines to treat any mental disorders that the person may have, such as anxiety and depression. Treating the mental disorder may weaken the urge to self-harm.
Mental health counseling or therapy can also help by teaching the person
If the problem is severe, the person may need more intensive treatment in a psychiatric hospital or a mental health day program.