What is self-harm?
Self-harm refers to intentionally injuring oneself in an attempt to cope with trauma or underlying mental health conditions. Self-harm occurs in many forms, and it most often occurs as cutting, scratching, burning, or self-hitting. Other forms of self-harm involve piercing and inserting objects under one’s skin.
People engage in self-harm as a way to take control of their emotions during difficult situations and while suffering from mental health challenges. The pain from self-harm injuries may distract a person from issues in other aspects of their life, and with some people, self-harm provides a temporary calming experience. Unfortunately, these short-term motivations that cause a person to engage in self-harm do not address the underlying reasons that drive their self-harm behavior.
Risk factors for self-harm include experiencing trauma through difficult home life or abuse. While self-harm affects people of all ages, the behavior is most common among younger teens. Most people stop self-harm behavior after just a few incidents. However, self-harm can be a long-term phenomenon, and people may continue the behavior into their 30s.
It is important to note that self-harm is different from suicide. In most cases, people engage in self-harm without the intention to kill themselves. However, self-harm behavior can lead to suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Additionally, self-harm can lead to suicide due to unintentionally severe self-inflicted injuries. These unintentionally severe self-injuries often occur under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the individual misjudges the impacts of their actions.
If you or someone you know is ever in immediate danger from self-harm, call 911 immediately for in-person assistance.
What are the signs and symptoms of self-harm?
Signs and symptoms of self-harm often include physical markers of the injury. These markers include scratches, bruises, and scars. Typically, scars from self-harm injuries occur in patterns and near the wrists. People may notice that individuals who engage in self-harm may consistently wear long-sleeved shirts in an attempt to hide signs of their self-harm behaviors.
In addition to the physical effects of self-harm injuries, people who engage in self-harm may also exhibit a range of emotional and psychological symptoms. Self-harm behavior often comes with low self-esteem and feelings of hopelessness. Additionally, people who engage in self-harm may exhibit impulsive decision-making and instability throughout multiple areas of their lives. People who engage in self-harm may have difficulty forming and maintaining interpersonal relationships.
When people engage in self-harm, they may feel shameful about their actions and experience feelings of guilt. These feelings often come soon after each self-harm incident. Unfortunately, the person may be unable to process guilt and shame associated with their self-harm, and these feelings may lead to further self-harm incidents.
How Orange County Behavioral Health can help treat self-harm behavior
Self-harm is a sign of underlying mental health challenges, and people who self-harm require attention from behavioral health professionals. People who engage in self-harm can benefit from a range of evidence-based treatment programs at licensed behavioral health hospitals.
At Orange County Behavioral Health, we provide behavioral health treatment programs for people who engage in self-harm. We offer both inpatient services and outpatient services. Our inpatient services are appropriate for individuals who require immediate stabilization and 24/7 monitoring. Additionally, our inpatient treatment programs offer medication management. Our outpatient programs for self-harm behaviors include partial hospitalization programs and intensive outpatient programs. These outpatient programs are ideal for providing patients the care they need while maintaining home, school, and work routines.
Our treatment programs focus on helping people understand and cope with the underlying issues that cause self-harm behaviors. Additionally, clinicians help patients understand the behavioral patterns behind self-harm and learn to interrupt those cycles. Treatment sessions occur in individual and group therapy settings, and some treatment programs may contain a medication regimen.
Get treatment for self-harm behaviors at Orange County Behavioral Health
If you or someone you know engages in self-harm, it is essential to get treatment from a behavioral health professional. Self-harm can lead to serious physical injuries, and the underlying mental health challenges that lead to self-harm typically only worsen without proper treatment.
To get started with treatment for self-harm behavior, reach out to our team at Orange County Behavioral Health by calling 949-900-8600 (Aliso Ridge) or 714-243-9000 (Anaheim). At Orange County Behavioral Health, our team members have decades of combined experience helping patients address their self-harm behavior.
When you contact us, a member of our team can help answer any questions you may have about our treatment programs for self-harm and our behavioral health hospital. Additionally, a member of our team can help schedule you or a loved one for a free mental health assessment. The results of the free mental health assessment help our clinicians build a custom treatment program for the self-harm patient’s unique needs.