Self Harm

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Self Harm

Post  Kunoichi on Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:16 pm

By Mayo Clinic staff

Because self-injury is often kept secret, it may be difficult to spot signs and symptoms. Self-injury symptoms may include:

* Scars, such as from burns or cuts
* Fresh cuts, scratches or other wounds
* Bruises
* Broken bones
* Keeping sharp objects on hand
* Spending a great deal of time alone
* Wearing long sleeves or long pants even in hot weather
* Claiming to have frequent accidents or mishaps

Forms of self-injury
One of the most common forms of self-injury is cutting, which involves making cuts or scratches on your body with a sharp object. But there are many other forms of self-harm, including:

* Cutting
* Burning
* Poisoning
* Overdosing
* Carving words or symbols on the skin
* Breaking bones
* Hitting or punching
* Piercing the skin with sharp objects
* Head banging
* Pinching
* Biting
* Pulling out hair
* Interfering with wound healing

Self-injury is usually repetitive behavior, occurring multiple times, rather than just once. Most frequently, the arms, legs and front of the torso are the targets of self-injury because these areas can be easily reached and easily hidden under clothing. But any area of the body may be subjected to self-injury. Self-injury may be painful or not, largely depending on your state of mind at the time.

Self-injury frequently is an impulsive act. You may become upset, or triggered, and develop an urge to hurt yourself. Other times, though, self-injury is a planned event, inflicted in a controlled, methodical manner.

When to see a doctor
If you engage in any form of self-injury, even minor, or have thoughts of harming yourself, reach out for help. Any form of self-injury is a sign of bigger issues that need to be addressed. Self-injury contributes to a life of distress and chaos. It also poses the risk of serious injury, infection or disfigurement, or even death. And self-injury has some addictive qualities, making it very hard to overcome on your own.

While you may feel ashamed and embarrassed about your behavior, you can find supportive, caring and nonjudgmental help. Getting appropriate treatment can help you learn healthier ways to cope — ways that won't leave your body permanently scarred. Try to work up the courage to confide in someone you trust, whether it's a friend, loved one, health care provider, or a school or university official. They can help you take the first steps to successful treatment.

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