Clinically termed non-suicidal self-injury, self-harm may sound straightforward: hurting yourself on purpose. However, it’s often misunderstood. Through self-harm, physical pain becomes an outlet for emotional distress — particularly challenging emotions like fear, sadness or anger. The acts do cause physical pain but they often provide a powerful sense of emotional release. For those people who deal with an unpleasant emotional numbness, the pain caused by self-harm can provide them with a welcome opportunity to feel anything at all.
The most common type of self-harm involves cutting with a razor blade or a sharp knife. Other forms of self-harm include causing burns, hitting and punching. The physical effects can range from mild injuries such as bruises or cuts. Others can be much more serious, such as severe burns, deep wounds or broken bones.
Self-harm is surprisingly common. While it’s not a diagnosable mental illness, it does indicate a strong need for emotional support.
According to studies on self-harm from the The American Psychological Association:
Self-harm also is associated with a number of other behavioral health conditions, including anxiety, trauma/PTSD, depression and borderline personality disorder. As many as 55 percent of those who self-harm also have eating disorders.
One important note: People who engage in self-harm want to feel pain, but not kill themselves. However, self-harm can be a predictor of future suicide attempts. Also, self-harm under influence of alcohol or drugs can cause injuries to be much more severe than intended.
You don’t have to be embarrassed and ashamed of your self-harm. And you don’t have to continue to do it. At Golden Peak Recovery, we can help you identify and address the emotional distress behind your need to self-harm. And we’ll give you the tools to deal with all your emotions in a healthy way — even the emotions that are unpleasant.