is the act of deliberately harming your own body that is not intended to be lethal. Self-injury is also known as cutting, self-harm or self-mutilation. It is a harmful way to cope with overwhelming emotional pain or intense anger and frustration.
People who self-injure commonly report feeling empty inside and unable to express their feelings. Often, their intention is to “punish” themselves. Becoming upset can trigger an urge to self-injure. While self-injury may bring a momentary sense of calm and a release of tension, it's usually followed by guilt, shame and the return of painful emotions.
Many people self-injure only a few times and then stop. But for others, self-injury can become a long-term, repetitive behavior.
Signs and symptoms
Self-injury can be difficult to identify because it is often done privately. Any area of the body may be used for self-injury. The most frequent targets of self-injury are the arms, legs and front of the torso. The signs and symptoms vary depending upon the methods
a person uses and may include:
- Scars from burns or cuts
- Fresh scratches or cuts
- Broken bones
- Patches of missing hair
People who self-injure may attempt to conceal their marks with clothing. They may wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, even on hot days. People who self-injure often brush off injuries with excuses as to how an “accident” happened or as the result of being clumsy.
Treatment and recovery
People who self-injure are able to recover from this behavior and lead normal, productive and self-injury free lives. Self-injury treatment is most often a combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and other treatment services as needed.
If you are concerned about yourself, a friend or family member, help is available. Your primary care provider can often refer you to a mental health professional that specializes in self-harm help. The CBA provider network
includes psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, social workers and counselors. You should always check your specific benefits to see which providers your plan covers.