Self-Harm Addiction Signs You Should Know About


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Like other compulsive behaviors, self-harm can make you feel addicted. You may feel like you need to self-harm to cope with the world and your internal state. While self-harm or self-injury is not defined as an addiction, it can have similar effects. People struggling with mental health issues often experience a craving similar to the craving associated with substance use. If you are worried that you may be experiencing what feels like an addiction to or a dependence on self-harming behaviors, seeking treatment is vital.

Compulsive habits can be hard to break. When self-harm becomes a habit or a ritual, it may be a sign that your condition is worsening. Professional treatment is important for addressing any thoughts or acts of self-harm. If your behaviors are actively becoming more frequent and intense, seeking treatment as soon as possible is especially crucial. By learning about the signs of self-harm dependency, you can take the right steps to be proactive in your treatment.

Key signs of self-harm dependency

  • Frequent episodes — Paying attention to the frequency of your self-harm episodes is important. If these behaviors begin to occur more often, it might be a sign of increased dependency. Self-harming behaviors tend to increase in frequency as a response to other mental health issues. In many cases, these behaviors begin as a way to cope with conditions like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). There are many other conditions that can lead to self-harm as well. These include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder (MDD). Even if you do not have a formal diagnosis, one of these conditions could be an underlying cause for your urges. By seeking treatment for frequent episodes, you can learn more about your condition and how to address it.
  • Increased severity — Over time, untreated patterns of self-harm often get worse. Increased frequency is only one factor of this escalation. Another important factor is the severity of the behavior. At first, you might only injure yourself in relatively “minor” ways. As you continue to engage in self-harm, though, repeating the same behaviors can have diminishing returns. You may find yourself less affected by the self-harm over time, which can lead to more serious injuries. Progressing to more severe methods is a major warning sign. If you feel the need to hurt yourself in more intense ways to cope, it is important to seek treatment immediately. A licensed clinical therapist can help you find effective ways to manage your symptoms without resorting to self-harm.
  • Main coping strategy — How do you cope with challenges? Whether you are facing mental health symptoms or everyday obstacles in life, it is important to have good coping mechanisms in place. Without other coping strategies, you might feel like you have to rely on self-harm. This can lead to an addiction-like fixation. If self-harm is the main way you manage your emotions, finding other ways to cope can help you reduce self-harming behaviors. Through process-based therapy (PBT), you can discover a range of treatments and build new coping skills. PBT combines an array of effective interventions to provide a robust system for recovery. By engaging with PBT, you can replace self-harm with healthier coping strategies. Safe and effective coping mechanisms can play a pivotal role in your long-term recovery.
  • Intrusive thoughts — Do you think about self-harm often? Do these thoughts preoccupy your brain throughout the day? Experiencing constant and distracting thoughts of self-harm can be a key warning sign. For some people, this kind of intrusive thought pattern is accompanied by craving. Intense craving is typically associated with addictions like substance use disorders. A similar craving can drive people toward self-harm. With one-on-one psychotherapy sessions, you can work to address cycles of negative thoughts and urges. By working through your symptoms at the source, you can make progress toward lasting relief.
  • Concealing behaviors — Being secretive about self-harm can be a sign that the symptom is worsening. Teens often feel like they need to hide their mental health symptoms from peers, friends and even parents. This can lead to the concealment of self-harming behaviors. You might hide your struggles out of shame or fear. While it can be hard to open up to others, keeping everything inside is not a good idea. Hiding your behaviors can prevent you from getting help. Communicating your feelings with a mental health professional marks an essential step toward recovery. 

Lightfully can help address self-harming behaviors

Ready to find effective treatment for self-harm? Lightfully Behavioral Health is here to help. The framework of every treatment plan we create for self-harm behaviors consists of evidence-based, clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered care. From diagnosis to building skills for long-term mental health improvement, we can work with you each step of the way.

Reaching out for help with self-harm is a brave step, and we want you to know that change is possible. When you’re ready to find the support you need, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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