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Self-Harm – Signs, Symptoms, and Triggers You Need to Know

Roughly 2 million Americans commit acts of self-harm. Self-harm is defined as an injury that a person inflicts upon their self. The most commonly used method of self-harm is cutting. Although self-harm is not typically a suicide attempt, a person who commits an act of self-harm may attempt suicide or have the desire to end their life.

Although self-harm is a common behavior among adolescents, adults are also at risk. If you or someone you know has committed acts of self-harm, it is important to identify the signs, symptoms, and triggers so you can seek the best possible solutions.

Psychological Factors

Self-harm has a strong link with various psychological issues, including borderline personality disorder (BPD). People who suffer from BPD may also suffer from the following:

  • Manic episodes
  • Bipolar
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • Eating disorder

A person who self-harms may have certain risk factors, such as a childhood history of trauma, abuse, and neglect. Although the impulses that lead to self-harm are not wholly agreed upon, individuals who commit acts of self-harm state that they feel lonely or empty. They may also feel an inability to express themselves, which may also lead to difficulties with relationships.

Identifying the psychological factors that contribute to self-harm are of the utmost importance, as is seeking therapeutic help. Fortunately, Monica Ramunda of Rocky Mountain Counseling Services can help. Through solution-based therapy, you or a loved one can understand the challenges you face to overcome feelings of self-harm.

Signs and Symptoms

It is just as important to identify the signs and symptoms of self-harm addiction as it is to identify the underlying psychological causes. A person who self-harms may claim to have frequent accidents as a way of explaining away cuts, burns, and bruises. You may also notice the person wearing concealing clothing such as long sleeved shirts despite the warm weather.

People who self-harm often display symptoms of irritation. They may also experience difficulty function in school or at work. Watch out for signs of low self-esteem or exclusion. In many cases, the person will exclude themselves from social activities as they often prefer to be left alone. If you suspect someone you love is self-harming, do not be afraid to look to see if the person is carrying sharp objects.

Although cutting is not necessarily a suicide attempt, it can still pose hazards for serious injury. A person using a sharp object to cut on their body could face the risk of infection or damage to a major blood vessel. Seek help immediately if you or someone you know has been committing acts of self-harm. It is best to let an expert handle the situation. Acting impulsively or strictly from a place of emotion could cause further harm.


A person who self-harms will experience certain triggers. Typically, triggers include stress, anger, and feelings of shame. Perhaps the person experienced a traumatic event that causes them to disassociate themselves with the fact that they are harming their body. In other words, some people might not even realize they are hurting themselves.

People who self-harm do so because they are trying to cope with the world around them rather than trying to end their life. The person usually experiences feelings of numbness. The person will then choose to inflict pain upon a part of their body to remind them that they are alive. Self-harm is often a desire to feel something other than the numbness.

Seeking Help

Whether it is you or someone you know committing acts of self-harm, it is urgent that you seek help immediately. Therapeutic approaches to self-harm may include:

  • Learning coping skills
  • Discussing triggers
  • Behavioral therapy

Unfortunately, not everyone has time to schedule an appointment during work or school hours to seek therapeutic help. Luckily, Virtual Therapist Network can connect you with an online therapist like Monica to assist you in overcoming the urge to self-harm. Online virtual therapy provides you with a sense of privacy and convenience so you can focus on important issues rather than constricting schedules.