Note for readers: This post discusses self-harm.
Self-harm is a complex and sensitive topic that can be difficult to talk about. Teens who are struggling with self-harm might not understand exactly why they do it, which makes it even harder to cope. However, understanding different self-harm motivations can help teens to identify and address the root causes of their behaviors.
While support from therapists and other mental health professionals is the best way to assess and understand self-harm, we can begin to explore a few important insights that can change negative behaviors by recognizing signs of self-harm and assessing the motivations behind it. Explore this article today to learn more about self-harm and how to address it.
What Is Self-Harm?
Self-harm is any behavior that’s intentionally done to cause harm to yourself. This can include cutting, burning, scratching, hitting, or any other form of self-injury. Generally, the term self-harm is limited to injury directly to your own skin without the addition of suicidal intent.
Spotting Common Signs of Self-Harm?
Whether you’re concerned about yourself, a friend, or a family member, looking for evidence of self-harm can help you along the path of understanding self-harm. Common signs of self-harm may include:
- Unexplained cuts, scrapes, bruises, or burns on the body
- Discomfort when addressing or explaining various injuries
- Covering up with clothing even when it is warm outside
- Unusual or excessive amounts of blood or bandages
- Using sharp objects like razor blades, knives, scissors, or other tools
If you’re concerned about someone who may be engaging in self-harm, you should also look for signs of depression or anxiety. Other potential warning signs include isolation from friends and family, changes in eating habits, and a lack of interest in activities that you used to enjoy.
Understanding the Motivations for Self-Harm
Self-harm motivation can vary from person to person, and finding the cause behind the behavior can help you address the root issue of the problem. While every person is different, some common self-harm motivations include:
- Coping with emotional pain – Self-harm is often a way for teenagers to cope with intense emotions like sadness, anger, or anxiety. By inflicting physical pain on themselves, they may feel a temporary sense of relief from their emotional pain.
- Feeling in control – Some teens may use self-harm as a way to feel in control of their lives. This can be especially true if they feel like other aspects of their lives are out of control.
- Communicating distress – For some, self-harm may be a way of communicating their distress to others. It can be difficult to put our feelings into words, but self-harm functions as a visible sign that something is wrong.
- Self-punishment – Some people may use self-harm as a form of punishment. These people often feel like they deserve to be hurt or that they need to atone for something they’ve done.
Once you identify any underlying issues that lead to self-harm motivations, you ensure a better understanding of your concerns and can find better tools for developing healthier coping strategies.
How to Determine Self-Harm Motivations
One way to assess motivations for yourself is by keeping a journal. You can write down when you engage in self-harm, what triggers the behavior, and what you’re feeling before and after. Review your journal to find patterns and gain insights into your actions.
It’s also important to seek professional help for self-harm behaviors. A mental health professional can provide support and guidance as you work through your concerns.
Call Ascend for Self-Harm Treatment
Self-harm can be a difficult and complex behavior to understand, but it’s important to seek help if you or someone you know is struggling with it. By understanding self-harm and assessing your own behavior, you can start to develop healthier coping strategies and find ways to address underlying issues.