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What is behind self-mutilation?

Self-mutilation is a mental disorder that involves causing intentional self-harm. It can be expressed through cutting, burning, breaking the bones, or any other form of self-injury. Read on to learn more about the causes of self-mutilation.

Causes of self-mutilation

Self-mutilation is usually a reaction to stress or trauma. The sufferers use self-abuse as a way of relieving anxiety or pressure. This disorder can happen to anyone, but it seems that some people are much more susceptible to it. People who have suffered physical, emotional, or sexual abuse in the past, people with eating disorders, young people, and especially, teenage girls, are more at risk of developing this condition. Statistics suggest that women are three to four times more likely to suffer from this condition compared to men. Below are the main causes of self-mutilation. Biological factors It seems that the neurotransmitter dopamine plays an important role in the development of self-mutilation. Additionally, endogenous opioid is another biological factor. The pain of injury causes the production of endorphins, which creates feelings of euphoria. This leads to a vicious cycle in which the individuals hurt themselves so as to feel better or to get some sensory stimulation. Psychological factors The sufferers usually have a very negative self-image and experience difficulties in coping with strong emotions. They feel powerless and angry at themselves. Most of the time, their childhood and adolescence were characterised by neglect, divorce, or absence of parental care. A history of physical or sexual abuse is also very common. The presence of other mental diseases Usually, self-abuse is considered a disorder in itself, but sometimes, it may also be a symptom of other mental diseases. Conditions such as borderline personality disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia may also cause self-mutilation.

Treatment

Medical treatment usually involves a combination of psychotherapy and medications. Despite the fact that there are no specific medications for self-mutilation, it seems that drugs which alleviate the symptoms of depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder may be helpful. As for psychotherapy, it’s very important to find the right therapist. A therapist may help the patient to find the root cause of self-abuse and to develop new coping mechanisms so as to stop self-injury.

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