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Surviving Teen Challenges without Self-Harm

Surviving Teen Challenges without Self-Harm


The teenage years are not challenging solely because it is a period of rapid physical development. The part of the adolescent brain that makes rational decisions is not yet fully developed, which is why they are likely to act in impulsive ways. Young people can also experience emotional upheaval and intensity, which can result in it being a time of confusion and vulnerability to a range of problems.

Teens face difficult thoughts, feelings or situations in a variety of ways. During this stage of development, many teens typically attempt to shock their parents by doing something temporary and harmless as a way of surviving teen challenges. Some adolescents may try experimenting with things, such as drugs, alcohol, or sex. Other teens may decide to hurt themselves on purpose by inflicting physical pain on their own body. Injuring themselves may be their way to escape. This self-mutilation or self-injury is also referred to as self-harm.


The Truth behind Teenage Self-Harm

Nearly 10 percent of American children deliberately hurt themselves at some point around puberty. Studies show that 15 percent of teens have been reported to inflict some form of self-injury to their own body. While some teens are inclined to self-harming activities for various reasons, including peer pressure, experts believe there are much deeper issues that need to be addressed.

Anyone can resort to self-harm, but it is more common with teens and among females. Young people who are facing major life stressors, have experienced traumatic life events, struggling with underlying emotional difficulties, or have low self-esteem are more likely to engage in self-harming acts. Although 25 percent of those who self-harm do it only once, millions of other teens make the act a ritual, thus becoming a distressing habit.

Self-harming is theorized as an act that releases the hormone serotonin, which is responsible for regulating anxiety and happiness. Precisely because a false sense of relief is felt is why a self-harmer will do the act again. The relief that comes from self-harming, however, is not for long.

Although self-harming may temporarily mask the pain, the underlying issue remains. Self-harm may help in expressing feelings that cannot be articulated, releasing emotional pain, stopping guilt, feeling in control, demonstrating anger, or distracting difficult life circumstances. When the feeling of temporary relief is gone, the real painful feeling is back, and the urge to self-harm returns as well.

Those who self-injure tend to keep their activities secret either because they are ashamed or afraid of being misunderstood. The truth is that hiding their feelings or thoughts can become a heavy burden that may eventually affect their relationship with others and how they feel about themselves. Ultimately, a self-harming teen may end up feeling more lonely, hopeless, unloved, and trapped. It is important for all teens to remember that surviving the challenges is possible without hurting yourself.


Self-Harm Is Not an Act to End Life

Self-harm is often thought to be an act to end life. Although both may involve inflictions of pain, there is a big difference between the two. Self-harmers generally do not wish to kill themselves in contrast to those who want to put an end to their life.

A significant difference between the two is the intention. Whereas self-harming is viewed as a way to cope with life stressors, contemplating ending life is considered as an escape from the pain and suffering being experienced. Acts with the purpose of ending life originate from hopelessness, depression and worthlessness. On the other hand, the pain felt from self-infliction reassures the self-harmer of being alive despite the emotional numbness or disconnection with the world.

Self-harm, even if there is no intention to end life, is a major issue that should be taken seriously. People who habitually commit self-injury are at higher risk of eventually ending life. Repeated self-harm can also result in serious injuries, disabilities, and accidental death.


The Signs and Symptoms of Self-Harm

There is no accepted, stereotypical profile of a teen who engages in self-harming behavior. It emphasizes the importance of knowing what signs to look out for in order to seek the right kind of help. Very often people associate self-harming simply as cutting the skin using any sharp object. There are, however, many more self-inflicting behaviors than cutting.

Unfortunately, it can be complicated to look out for warning signs of self-harming since the behavior is carried out in secret and it may take a long time for others to see some evidence. Apart from major activities, such as poisoning, head banging, hair pulling, and burning oneself, other give away signs that a young person is engaged in self-harming activities and needs professional help include the following:

  • Unexplained cuts, burns and bruises on some parts of the body, particularly on the wrists or arms
  • Penchant for wearing long sleeves and pants despite the warm weather
  • Presence of blood stains on clothes or bedding
  • Presence of drug or medical paraphernalia
  • Withdrawal or isolation, especially in the bedroom or bathroom
  • Possession of sharp objects or lighters
  • Mood swings
  • Changes in eating, sleeping and socializing patterns
  • Poor academic performance
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed

Signs of self-harm can also include less obvious ways of hurting or endangering oneself, such as swallowing poisonous substances or objects, or reckless driving. Self-harm can also take the form of digital or cyberbullying wherein teenagers create their own pseudo-online identity on social media sites and bash themselves cruelly. Cruel comments may also come from other people.

A single warning sign does not necessarily conclude a teen is self-harming. These signs become more serious when several of them happen at the same time.


Seek Help for Self-Harm

Self-harming is not always a sign of emotional or behavioral health issues. It is, however, certainly a sign that someone needs help, care and support.

It can be difficult for a teen to admit being engaged in self-harm, particularly if this has been a source of escape from the stresses and strains of everyday life. Yet, regardless of what angle you look at it, self-inflicted injury is not and will never be a healthy activity. It is often confusing, and it may be difficult to stop on your own. There may be nothing more beneficial than to seek teen counseling services from a professional to help sort through this confusion.

Parents may also find it difficult to stay calm in the face of a self-harming teen. Whether you are a parent of a self-harming teen, or a teen engaged in self-harm, there is help available. There are many ways to find this help. Your quest to end self-harm can end with a caring counselor/therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC, on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks. The right fit professional independently contracted with CCS – Cameron can be a source of support for any teen who exhibits recent or chronic self-harming behavior. Call today before a teen’s life is damaged further.

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC

Counties: Harnett County

Areas: Cameron NC, Linden Oaks NC, Sprout Springs NC, Anderson Creek NC, Olivia NC, Pineview NC, Johnsonville NC, Spring Lake NC

Zip Codes: 28326, 28327, 27332, 28394

Rose Thomas, MA, LPC, LCAS, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 5+) Children, Teens, Individuals, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADHD, Relationship Issues, Marriage Counseling, Parenting, PTSD/Trauma Recovery, Acute Stress Disorder, Adult Sexual Abuse Survivors, Adjustment Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Bipolar and Related Disorders, Self-injurious/Self-Harm, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Separation Anxiety, Disruptive Disorders, Conduct Disorder, Marital Conflict and Discord, LGBT, Substance Use Disorders
 Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Tricare Prime, Tricare Select, Extra, Retired, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express


Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Individuals, families, PTSD, Trauma, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Adjustment Disorder, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, communication skills, and Parenting Skills, Behavior Management, Life transitions, Family Conflict, Difficulty Coping, Relationship Problems, Depression, Anxiety

InsuranceBCBSTricare, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted and Apple Pay

Credit cards:  


Shirlisa Daniels, MS, LPC, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Teens, Adults and Individuals, Families, Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Panic Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, ODD, PTSD, Relationship Issues, Conflict Resolution and Life Transitions
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

Holly Ring, LMFT

Specializes in: (Ages 7+) Adolescents, College Students, Individuals, Couples, and Families, Anxiety, Depression, Trauma (child and adult, TFCBT certified), Relationship Issues, Coping Skills, Adjustment Disorders, Life Transitions, Suicidal Ideation, Self-esteem, OCD, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting Skills, LGBTQ
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

How Do I Set Up my FIRST Appointment?

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Carolina Counseling Services - Cameron, NC
35 Plantation Drive, Suite 100B and 100C
Cameron, NC 28326

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PO BOX 9909
Fayetteville, NC 28311

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