Teen Depression May Lead to Self-Harm And Mutilation
Are you aware if your teen purposely injures herself? Teen depression or anxiety can trigger this response to stress, and you might not even know about it. Self-harm is difficult to imagine, but some teens who are have depression or anxiety disorder use it as a way to release painful emotions.
If your teen is injuring herself, it's imperative that you seek help. Here is some background on self-injury.
It mostly affects women between the ages of 13 and 30, but men are also likely to react this way to painful depression and anxiety. They will use any object they can find to inflict pain on themselves. This includes cutting with razors, scissors, broken glass, pieces of sharp metal, needles or whatever else they can find. Read: Teenage Depression Can Be Enduring, but Is More Often Short-Lived.
A sure sign that your teen is injuring herself is any repeated cuts on her arms, legs, hands, wrists and elsewhere. Some injuries are minor and heal quickly, while others can be severe enough to cause permanent scarring and possibly require medical treatment.
While the majority of people who self-harm are not suicidal, there are some who are, so this should not be ruled out. See also: Teen Suicide Rates In U.S. Rising.
The big question is why do they take such drastic action against themselves?
Disruptive family life, trauma and sexual abuse are some of the more common reasons why teens self-harm. It is their way of relieving the anger and inner turmoil that results from these disruptions. While it might appear to be a method to gain attention, cutting is actually something that teens do in private, away from view.
In fact, unless you happen to see your teen with her arms or legs exposed, chances are you will never know that she has injured herself repeatedly.
Any negative emotions can trigger the self-harm, which makes it that much more difficult to pin down. One such emotion is the idea that she needs to punish herself for guilt that she feels. Other possible causes include bipolar disorder, obsessive thinking, eating disorders, and aggressive behavior.
Cutting offers a distraction from the real pain that's going on inside her. Emotional pain can be much more unbearable than a few cuts. In fact, cutting provides a sense of relief, although temporary.
Resolving the self harm means getting to the root of the problem that is causing the emotional pain. If the teen has suffered sexual abuse or is having difficulty coping with chaos in the family, these issues must be addressed by a doctor or other medical professional.
If your teen is experiencing unbearable anxiety, which can come from any number of sources including school and peer pressure, this too much be treated to prevent more serious problems arising in the future.
Cutting is a sure sign that your teen has not learned how to deal with various life experiences and the stress they bring. It is important for your teen to learn good coping skills so that this problem does not repeat itself.
What you can do
Teaching your teen alternative ways of coping is imperative because once she starts cutting, it becomes almost addictive and extremely difficult for her to break the habit.
Seek professional help as soon as you realize there is a problem. Find someone who will help her to establish a more positive attitude about herself and her options. Do whatever you can to help build her confidence and self esteem. Offer your support. Open the door for non-judgmental communication where she can share her concerns. Talk therapy is an extremely beneficial coping mechanism.
It's important to stay positive about the healing process. Some teens will recover quickly, while others will take longer. Although you might not see results on the outside, you can be sure something good is happening on the inside.
Discover the underlying causes that trigger teen depression. Sylvia's new ebook, "Understanding Adolescence: A Guide to Teenage Depression & Suicide" fills in the details, including the biological changes teens experience as they transition between childhood and adulthood.