Self-harm is a term everyone has heard of but does anyone know what exactly it means? People indulging in the act of self-harm is again something everyone has heard of. Does anyone know why people do it?
Deliberately hurting oneself in different forms such as cutting, burning, etc falls under the category of self-harm. 13 is the average age when one begins self-injury, which is committed with the intention of harming oneself. Self-injury typically results in tissue damage; in addition to this, it also leaves scars and marks on the body.
Self-injury can take multiple forms, and the frequency of the same may differ. It may include excessive itching, burning, cutting of the skin. Picking at wounds and scabs while not allowing them to heal also includes behaviors of self-injury. Acts of trichotillomania, hitting or punching one's own body, and intake of harmful substances such as prescription medicines, poisons are considered as acts of self-harm. It can also be noted that excessive tattooing and piercings are also forms of self-injury.
Why do people indulge in the act of self-harm?
The reasons for committing acts of self-harm are excessive. Sufferers often tend to see and feel self-injury as a way of temporary stress relief. They refuse to deal with their emotional distress and resort to physical pain. It also provides them with feelings of control and power over their own body.
The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychology noted that it may also be a sign of rebellious behavior against parents and individualizing oneself in some cases. Those adolescents that have difficulty in processing emotions may express themselves through the act of self-injury. Self-injury can also be seen as an indirect cry for help. Some sufferers may be too embarrassed or ashamed in asking for help, for which they resort to injuring themselves in the hopes that someone may notice.
Those who have friends who self-injure tend to be more prone to commit the act of harming themselves. Furthermore, individuals who have been neglected, sexually assaulted, emotionally and physically abused are also likely to self-injure.
More severe self-injury cases could be possibly associated with other mental health disorders such as clinical depression, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder.
How exactly can people deal with self-harm?
Dialectic Behavioural Therapy – Acceptance and Change
Primarily used for the treatment of self-destructive behavior and suicide, dialectic behavioral therapy (DBT) teaches patients to identify, cope with and change unhealthy behaviors. The therapy technique is a modification of cognitive-behavioral therapy and was initially developed to treat suicidal behavior.
As of late, it has been adapted for the purpose of treating a large number of mental health disorders. Primarily focuses on mental health issues that threaten an individual's safety, relationships, emotional well-being, and safety.
The fundamentals of dialectic behavioral therapy(DBT) are as follows:
- Core Mindfulness
One of the most fundamental ideas of DBT is teaching patients to live in the moment. The aim is to make aware of the feelings, emotions and impulses one is feeling at the moment. Furthermore, the individual is also made aware of what is happening around them, using their senses in a non-judgemental way.
- Distress Tolerance
Distress tolerance mainly focuses on the acceptance of one's situation and oneself. Techniques to take care of oneself during a crisis include self-soothing and distraction. It helps patients prepare themselves for experiencing intense emotions.
- Interpersonal Effectiveness
The process of interpersonal effectiveness helps one become more assertive and in charge of the situation. The individual is more aware of effectively communicating, respecting others and oneself, and dealing with complex individuals. For example, the patient learns to say "no".
- Emotional Regulation This allows the patient to manage and effectively channel negative emotions. This component reduces emotional vulnerability. Apart from this, it also gives the patient a more positive emotional experience and less of an emotional rollercoaster. Skills learnt will help sufferers in identifying, naming and changing their current emotions.
The therapy method of DBT has been proven to be successful. There has been a notable decline in suicidal behavior, including the severity of the same post-application of the therapeutic technique. Furthermore, there has been a lesser duration of hospitalization and a decreased amount of negative emotions such as anger. Those who have experienced the treatment have more commitment to it and have better social functioning, including interpersonal skills.