Is This Self-harm?

Published: April 17, 2022
Dear TeenHealthFX,
Hi, i tend to, when i'm sad or mad or annoyed at someone, dig my nails into the palms of my hand really hard. Or i sometimes punch the edge of the railing, or just clap my hands together till it hurts. It calms me down and makes me feel better. And sometimes, i'm realy mean to myself mentally. Just now, i concinced myself i wasn't worth loving because i couldnt do a math problem, and i rationally knew that's stupid, but i still did. Is this self harm? I feel like it could be, but i'm not depressed and i don't have any trauma or anything.
Signed: Is This Self-harm?

Dear Is This Self-harm?,

TeenHealthFX is sorry to hear about what you are going through. By definition, National Institute on Mental Illness (NAMI) explains that hurting yourself on purpose for any reason is in fact considered self-harm. Self-harm does not have to be the result of a trauma or depression.

NAMI also explains, “When a person is not sure how to deal with emotions, or learned as a child to hide emotions, self-harm may feel like a release. Sometimes, injuring yourself stimulates the body’s endorphins or pain-killing hormones, thus raising their mood.” As a result, it is extremely important to learn safe and effective coping skills and how to handle certain stressors.

We strongly encourage you to reach out a trusted adult, school counselor, teacher, or doctor to let them know what it is going on. Asking for help is the best and most important first step in getting the help that you need. In the meantime, try taking a couple deep breaths, journaling, meditating, or even going for a walk to clear your head when you feel overwhelmed with worry, stress, or anger. Small steps can lead to big results. You matter and your life is worth living!

If you need help finding a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-5199 for an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist. 

Signed: TeenHealthFX