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What is Self-Harm Behavior? What Causes Self-Harming? 


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Understanding Self-Harm Behaviors

Self-harm behavior is a serious concern for those who are experiencing it and their loved ones. It is often difficult to understand why someone would engage in such harmful behavior, but there are many different factors that can lead to it.

In this blog, we will define self-harm behavior and provide specific examples of self-harm behaviors. We will also discuss the mental health disorders and traumas that can lead to self-harm behaviors, answering the question of what causes a person to exhibit self-harming behaviors. Finally, we will explore different treatment methods and emphasize the value of residential mental health treatment for the best results.

What is Self-Harm Behavior?

First, it is essential to define what self-harm behavior is. Self-harm behavior refers to any deliberate and voluntary act of inflicting physical harm on oneself. This behavior can take many forms, including cutting, scratching, burning, hitting, or interfering with the healing of wounds. Self-harm behavior is often an attempt to cope with emotional distress or a way to have control over something in one’s life.

The most common form of self-harm behavior is cutting. Cutting involves using a sharp object, like a razor blade or a knife, to make cuts on the skin. This behavior is often done in secret and can leave scars that can be difficult to hide. Other forms of self-harm behavior can include hitting oneself, bruising oneself, burning oneself, or picking at old wounds.

Who Has Self-Harm Behaviors and Why?

Self-harm behavior is often seen in individuals who are struggling with mental health disorders or trauma. Some mental health disorders that are associated with self-harm behavior include Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Eating Disorders. Trauma from abuse, neglect, or other life-changing events, can also lead to self-harm behavior.

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The causes of self-harming behaviors vary from person to person. However, research indicates that these behaviors are often linked to the individual’s difficulty with expressing and managing their emotions. Due to this emotional vulnerability, self-harm behavior can become a coping mechanism for these individuals, a way to alleviate some of the emotional pain that they are experiencing. By self-harming, individuals attempt to numb or distract themselves from the emotional turmoil that they are experiencing.

Mental health conditions often associated with self-harm behavior include:

  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
  • Major Depression
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Eating Disorders

How Can Self-Harm Behaviors Be Treated?

There are different treatment methods available for self-harm behaviors. However, finding the right treatment method can often be challenging, and it may take time to find the right approach. Some strategies that may be used include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and other forms of talk therapy.

These therapies aim to help individuals understand their self-harm behavior and find alternative ways to cope with emotional distress. Group therapy and support groups can also offer individuals a sense of community, understanding, and support.

The key to resolving self-harm behaviors lies in getting to the root causes for these actions. That often takes time and it can be uncomfortable for the individual. But it is important for them, and their loved ones, to understand that only by getting to the heart of their trauma and directly addressing any diagnosed mental health disorders, can we move past the self-harm. Healing in mental health is always a process of course. Recovery from self-harm behaviors is no different. 

Residential Mental Health Treatment for Self-Harm Behaviors

Residential mental health treatment is a valuable tool for people who are dealing with self-harm behavior. Residential treatment provides a supportive, controlled, and safe environment for individuals to work through their emotional struggles.

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In a residential treatment program, individuals will have access to a team of trained clinicians who can help them develop healthy coping strategies and learn new skills to manage their emotions.

The immersion that only a residential mental health program, like Destination Hope, can provide allows for 24-hour support and supervision. This effectively creates a ‘safe space’ for healing in which people with self-harm behaviors can often make progress and hit mental health milestones that may have been frustratingly out of reach in outpatient treatment or lower levels of care.

Destination Hope offers a much more comfortable environment than a psychiatric hospital and it’s nothing akin to the sanitariums of old. This is a place where people heal and find their true selves. 

Getting Help for Self-Harm Behaviors and Other Mental Health Challenges

Self-harm behaviors can be difficult to understand and even more challenging to treat. By differentiating between the common types of self-harm behaviors, identifying the underlying causes, and understanding the array of treatments available, family members and loved ones can better support individuals who may be struggling with self-harm behavior.

A significant step towards recovery is seeking the appropriate professional support; a residential mental health treatment center like Destination Hope can provide you with exactly that. We combine diverse treatments and approaches in a structured, therapeutic setting that empowers the patient.         

Destination Hope has been helping people achieve better mental health in South Florida since 2006. We welcome the opportunity to help you or the person you love transform their lives. All it takes is a phone call to begin to turn things in the right direction. Let’s talk. (866) 756-4673

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