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Taking a Closer Look at Self-Injury

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Self-Injury, Scar Treatment

Taking a Closer Look at Self-Injury

February 09, 2009

By: Body1 Staff
 
For some individuals, self-injury is a way to deal with strong emotions. Cutting, scratching, burning and picking the skin are common methods for countering emotional pain. The most common practitioners of self-injury are teenagers. Certain teens are more likely to inflict harm on themselves. Teens who are depressed, confused or anxious or who have suffered abuse as children are more likely to practice self-mutilation.
 
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Tips for Coping with Stress
Talk it out
  • if you are feeling depressed, lonely or anxious talk about it with someone you trust. If you feel like your parents and friends won’t understand find another trusted adult to confide in such as a school counselor or support hotline.
     
    Get moving
  • working up a sweat can help with managing emotional distress. Go for a walk or hit the gym to lift weights to engage your body and free your mind.
     
    Distract yourself
  • take yourself out of your emotional funk by diving into a project or hobby you enjoy. Read a book, play an instrument or video game or work on creating a photo album of happy memories.
     
    Write it down
  • for some people, journaling can be a good way of dealing with emotional pain. You may prefer the privacy of a handwritten journal you keep to yourself or may find sharing your story via a blog more helpful.
  • Why Self-Injury
    Not all teens with emotional problems harm themselves. Everyone experiences stress but some individuals feel higher levels of stress and anxiety. Giving a presentation at school might give one teen a slight butterflies in the stomach feeling while his classmate may experience a pounding headache and nausea.
     
    Why people experience different levels of stress is unknown. It is likely a combination of genetic makeup combined with upbringing. A person pre-disposed to be more anxious might not exhibit heightened anxiety if they grow up in a loving, nurturing home. Conversely, a person not prone to depression or anger raised by abusive parents may not learn how to deal with emotions in a healthy way.
     
    For people who engage in self-injury the most commonly-stated reason they do it is for emotional release. The act of hurting themselves actually relieves built up emotions, tension or pain. This quick fix is similar to using drugs or alcohol to cope with pain or stress. Individuals who self injure as teens and who don’t learn more appropriate coping mechanisms are at risk to abuse drugs and alcohol or continue cutting as adults.
     
    Getting Help
    Teens that cut or practice other methods of self-mutilation may not feel pain at the time of the incident but will feel pain afterwards. Self-injury is not just a way to get attention and should be taken seriously. People who cope with pain this way need medical attention to deal with both emotional and physical scars. There is no one effective treatment for people who injure themselves but generally a good start is talking to a counselor or joining a support group. Learn more about treating the physical scars from self-injury in Part Two of this article.  
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