Adolescent Self Harm Treatment

For adults who become aware of incidents of self-harm affecting young people in their lives, it is important to learn more about the reasons behind the behaviors and how to get effective adolescent self harm treatment.  As a complex social and mental health issue, though, self-harming behaviors in adolescents may often be underreported and misunderstood.  Ranging from fairly minor injuries like bruises, scratches, or hair pulling to more serious ones such as severe cuts or burns, self-harm often relates to underlying psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, or effects of childhood traumas such as abuse.

Know The Signs

Depending on the individual, the self-harming adolescent may either show obvious signs of self-injury, or may go to great lengths to conceal the activity and the resulting scars or symptoms in other cases.  Among some young people, the self-harm may function as an effort to obtain attention for psychological disorders or concerns, while others report that the self harm is essentially an effort to either release uncomfortable or painful feelings or to override such emotions with a more powerful physical pain from the cutting, burning or harming of oneself.  For the adult who sees signs of troubling behavior, seeking out adolescent self harm treatment can be a crucial first step toward addressing the deeper root causes of the actions.  If the injuries are open and apparent, people in the child’s life are able to address and discuss the issue.  But where the young person conceals the activity by hiding the scars or providing alternative reasons for obvious injuries, it may be necessary to be attuned to more subtle signs to determine whether the child is engaging in self-harm.  In either case, whether it is open and apparent behavior or subtle and hidden, it is important to know of options in adolescent self harm treatment when the problem becomes known.

Proceed With Caution to Provide Help

As with many psychosocial conditions, addressing the issue of self-injury with an adolescent is best done in a non-judgmental, non-threatening manner.  It is important to understand that anger, punishment, or threats may have the effect of driving the behavior further underground, without helping to address some of the reasons behind the activity.  It is also considered generally counterproductive to go into great detail with the child about the specifics of the activities, as this may trigger further desire to cause harm or repeat the actions.  Often the most beneficial course is to seek professional adolescent self harm treatment with the child, so that experts in psychological care can assess the situation and help to direct the young person to recognize the reasons behind the behavior and work toward stopping the damaging activities.

Know When to Get Help For Symptoms of Adolescent Self Harm

For adults with children in their teen years, it is important to understand some of the main symptoms of adolescent self harm.  While some two million cases of self harm are reported annually in the United States, it is believed that many more incidents are not reported for various reasons.  Often linked causally to other psychological issues such as severe depression, anxiety, excessive stress or unresolved issues of childhood abuse or trauma, the indicators of self-harming behavior are not always as obvious as it may seem.

While some self-injuring adolescents show obvious signs of injury, such as cuts, bruises, or burns, others make an effort to hide the effects of self-harm, or to explain the injuries away as resulting from accidental or non self-inflicted causes.  In either case, it is crucial that the adult in a teen’s life be able to communicate openly with the child and discuss issues of self harm or other psychological aberrations that may require professional care.  When discussing the issue it is best to avoid judgmental attacks on the aberrant behavior and to approach the situation in a caring and open-minded way.  It is vital for parents of teens to know the symptoms of adolescent self harm, and to be able to discuss the issue openly with their child, so as to avoid letting the problem become more severe due to neglect.

Warning Signs of Adolescent Self Harm

While some of the signs of adolescent self harm are obvious, such as obvious cuts or burns on the body, in many cases the young person intentionally hides or explains away the signs of injury to avoid detection as engaging in self-harming behavior.  It is important for the adults in a child’s life to be tuned in to the needs and subtle moods of the young person, so as to be aware of some of the significant indicators of psychological afflictions that may require professional care.

Some studies indicate that as many as a quarter of adolescents, beginning at age 12 and continuing through their early twenties, have engaged in some sort of aberrant self-harmful behavior. Underlying causes and aggravating factors range from extreme levels of depression or withdrawal from life to excessive anxiety or stress levels.  The indications of troubling behaviors in a teen are often apparent, even if not always obvious.  While mood swings and stresses are a normal part of adolescence, it is important for the adults in a child’s life to pay attention to factors that may indicate cause for concern.  When the warning signs of adolescent self harm become apparent, it is important to address the issue with the child in a non-judgmental and caring manner, so as to avoid driving the behavior into hiding without addressing the underlying psychological issues behind the self-harm.

Adolescent Self Harming Behavior Can Lead to Suicide – Help Prevent this Tragedy

Approximately one in twelve adolescents intentionally harm themselves. Frequent means of self harm are burning and cutting; however, these are not the only types of self injury. Pulling out hair, scratching, aggravating accidental injuries, or any other intentional infliction of pain are also signs that your teen needs help. If you suspect that your teen is harming himself or herself, seek professional help. Self injury is a sign of a lack of ability to cope with negative emotions such as depression, anger, or stress. This inability to cope too often leads to suicide. There are many reasons to help teens who hurt themselves, but suicide prevention for self harming adolescents cannot be ignored.

The assumption that self harm is the same as attempted suicide is incorrect. The two issues are separate even though they are related. Self harm is a way to cope with feelings that otherwise seem unmanageable. Teens who engage in self injury are generally seeking pain that temporarily blocks their unpleasant emotions. Often, adolescents who hurt themselves are doing it because they want to live, but they lack the coping skills required to deal with their problems. Suicide prevention for self harming adolescents is highly successful because they generally want help but do not know where to turn and are frequently too embarrassed to ask. As a parent, your understanding support cannot be duplicated. However, most teens who struggle with self harm also need outside assistance. Therapists who specialize in helping teens can listen to your child and teach coping skills. With your love and a good therapist, your adolescent can live a healthy and happy life.

Use Stories of Adolescent Self Harm to Educate Your Teen

Stories of adolescent self harm hit the news from time to time, and countless more stories can be found online. Yet, many parents still do not consider that this is a problem that can affect their own children. Most teens who self harm try to hide their behavior by injuring themselves in places they can cover with clothing. This means that your child may be cutting or otherwise hurting himself or herself even if you do not see injuries. Talk to your adolescent about the dangers of self harm and communicate regularly with him or her about coping strategies.

Two reasons teens try to hide self injury is because they worry their parents will not understand and they are embarrassed by their driving need to harm themselves. Talking about the issue with your teen can decrease the chance that he or she self harms, and it can increase the chance of early intervention. Find stories of adolescent self harm where the teen found help. Share these stories with your child to emphasize the facts that it is a real threat and that help is possible. Ask your teen about the ways he or she copes with problems and share your own coping strategies. If you have any reason to suspect that your adolescent is involved in self harm, get help immediately. Good therapists can meet with your child and help him or her overcome problems. If you find out later that you were wrong in your suspicions, it is okay. It is much better to seek care that was not specifically needed than to ignore potential problems.

A Note to Parents of an Adolescent who Self Harms

It can be devastating to realize that your precious teen is harming himself or herself. Many parents in this situation feel lost and frustrated. They often do not know how to help. An educational note to parents of an adolescent self harm son or daughter may give a sense of direction. Teens who self harm are deeply in need of parental love and support. Before taking any other step, remind your adolescent that he or she is an important part of your life. Then, recognize that this problem is likely too big for you to help your child through on your own. You can find help by turning to a therapist who specializes in teen issues.

The advice to love your teen may seem redundant in a note to parents of an adolescent self harm child. Of course you love your teen. However, because your son or daughter is in severe emotional distress, you should remember to show your love even more strongly than before. Make sure your child knows that you want to support him or her through the problem. Many self harming teens are afraid of disappointing their parents or somehow disqualifying themselves from love. After you talk to your teen, call for outside help. Self harm is generally too difficult for a teen to overcome without professional assistance. You can feel confident, though, because most teens who harm themselves want to overcome their behavior. A therapist who specializes in teen issues can give your child the tools he or she needs to rise above self harm. With your love and an expert’s help, your teen can truly be happy again.

Ways to Provide Friend Support for Adolescent Self Harm

There are some teenagers who deal with emotional distress or other issues by turning to harmful behaviors such as cutting or burning. There are a number of issues that can lead to the self harm, and friends who notice it may want to help in some way. Here are some ideas for how to provide friend support for adolescent self harm.

It is important to realize that causing harm to yourself is a very serious and potentially dangerous behavior. Therefore, a friend who notices a peer who is cutting or burning him- or herself should alert a family member or teacher right away. It may feel a little odd to do this, but you are helping your friend, as an adult will know how to get your friend the help he or she needs.

Sometimes, the individual may be hanging around a group of people who actually encourage this destructive behavior. As a friend, it may be helpful for you to let the person you care about know that you are worried about him or her. Let your friend know that you are there to support and care for him or her no matter what. It may help the individual to gradually leave that harmful group of friends and instead begin associating with other people.

Lastly, it is important for you to avoid criticizing your friend or act judgmental. He or she is already feeling overwhelmed by emotions and may even be ashamed of the behavior. Simply encourage your friend to talk about his or her feelings. You can help provide friend support for adolescent self harm by taking these steps.

How to Provide Family Support for Adolescent Self Harm

An individual who is harming him- or herself should be taken very seriously. Many times, young people who engage in this behavior do so either privately or when they are with their friends. Therefore, it is possible that family members will not find out for some time that there is an issue. As soon as the problem has been identified, there are a few ways to provide family support for adolescent self harm.

The first thing parents or other family members should do is to seek out a physician who can help. If you are not sure where to start, contact your family doctor for a referral. The doctor should put you in touch with a licensed therapist or psychologist who is experienced in helping teenagers who are harming themselves.

One of the next steps may be to enroll in family therapy, depending on the doctor’s recommendations. Many times, a young person is engaging in this behavior because of a family dynamic. It could be that parents are very demanding and cutting or burning is a reaction to stress. Conversely, some young people feel they are invisible to their parents and hurt themselves either to get attention or to deal with the disconnection.

Family therapy can help identify any issues that could have led to the behavior. Additionally, the doctor can provide parents and siblings with ways they can help to provide family support for adolescent self harm. The most important thing will be for the parents to create a welcoming environment at home and help the young person work through conflicts as a team.

Short and Long Term Dangers of Adolescent Self Harm

Self harm is a destructive behavior that affects many adolescents. There are several reasons teens may cut, burn, or otherwise harm themselves, but it is generally used as a coping mechanism. If you suspect that your teen is involved in self harm, it is essential that you act. The dangers of adolescent self harm go far beyond the physical scars they will probably give themselves. Teens who hurt themselves have the immediate risks of uncontrolled bleeding and infection; they are also are in danger of a long term inability to cope with negative emotions.

When an adolescent becomes accustomed to cutting himself or herself, that teen runs a constant risk of cutting deeper than intended. Excessive bleeding is especially critical because the teen is not likely to seek help. Due to embarrassment or fear, self abusing teens generally hide their behavior. Frequent injuries are also prone to infection, which will also likely to go untreated. In extreme cases, blood loss and infection can be fatal.

Long term problems and emotional scars are some of the most prevalent long term dangers of adolescent self harm. Teens who use self injury and the resulting pain as a release from stress, depression, or other emotions are in desperate need of coping skills. The mental development and skills learned during teenage years are critical for a healthy adult life. If your adolescent does not receive the psychological help he or she needs to overcome self harm, it can negatively affect the rest of his or her life. Thankfully, help is available. Teen counselors can rescue your son or daughter from this destructive behavior.