In America, a surprising number of adolescents and teens engage in self-harm. The symptoms of this mental health condition are subtle, and most adolescents who practice teen self-harm go to great lengths to hide their injuries. Therefore, parents may not understand how much their teen is suffering.
If you’re worried about changes in your adolescent or teen that seem unhealthy, sit down with them and discuss your concerns. If you discover your adolescent is hurting emotionally and physically, contact a mental health treatment center and inquire about therapy for self-harm.
What Causes Teen Self-Harm?
There are many reasons a teen may willingly injure themselves repeatedly. Major contributors include low self-esteem, bullying, family conflict, and confusion with gender identity or sexuality. Adolescents who self-harm often talk about feeling “numb.” These adolescents may self-harm to reassure themselves that they’re capable of feeling anything — even pain. Because they’re unable to share their thoughts and feelings in traditional ways, self-injury becomes an expression.
Teen self-harm is non-suicidal and not intended to inflict serious injury. Rather, it’s often a way of relieving overwhelming stress or dealing with feelings your teen doesn’t understand. Adolescents who engage in cutting or other forms of self-injury usually have trouble coping with psychological pain. Additionally, they may have difficulty handling complicated emotions. The risk factors for teen self-harm include:
- Being around others who self-injure
- Unresolved trauma such as abuse or neglect
- Poor self-image
- Substance use disorder
- Disorders such as depression or post-traumatic stress
If you’re worried your adolescent has trouble handling stress or dealing with emotions in healthy ways, talk to them regarding therapy for self-harm.
Methods of Teen Self-Harm
Unfortunately, adolescents may use methods of self-injury that are both painful and leave physical scars. The most common method is cutting, when a teen uses a razor blade or other sharp implement to make minor cuts in their skin. These cuts are typically deep enough to bleed. Often, they leave permanent scars. Additionally, there are other ways adolescents may self-harm. They include:
- Hair pulling
- Inserting sharp objects, such as needles, under the skin
- Hitting or punching themselves
- Banging their head against walls or tables
Sometimes an adolescent will engage in several methods of self-harm simultaneously. Unfortunately, they often do so in secret. Most signs of self-harm in teens are kept hidden beneath long sleeves or bulky clothing. As a parent, you may have to look closely to recognize the symptoms of teen self-harm.
Symptoms of Self-Harm in Teens
The symptoms of self-harm in teens are less obvious than you might think. Most adolescents target areas of their own bodies that aren’t exposed to others. In most instances, this includes the arms, legs, or torso. Therefore, parents and concerned friends may have to look for other symptoms. Teens who self-harm may wear long sleeves, even during hot weather. They may often express feeling hopeless or sad. They may have difficulty keeping friends and may always seem to have sharp objects, such as knives or box cutters, nearby.
If you’re convinced your adolescent adolescent or teen is engaging in self-harm, it’s important to seek professional help. Self-harm in teens is always a symptom of something more serious—such as the inability to handle their own thoughts and feelings. Left untreated, it usually doesn’t just go away. In fact, it may become more serious.
Therapy for Self-Harm at Beyond Healthcare
For families in the Toledo, Ohio, area, Beyond Healthcare offers an excellent program to help teens and adolescents who self-harm. Beyond Healthcare is an outpatient mental health care center that specializes in helping adolescents ages 11 to 17 find healthy ways to cope with feelings and emotions. Contact us today at 833.698.0453, or visit us online to learn more about how we help families heal from the pain of teen self-harm.