Self-Destructive Behavior

Self-destructive behavior includes attitudes and behaviors that can harm, injure, or be destructive to the person who has or performs them. Self-destructive behavior is often used as a coping strategy to deal with painful emotions and stress. It is often habit-forming and difficult to control without help. Self-destructive behavior can result in serious injury or death.

EXAMPLES OF SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR

  • Hurting yourself (self-injury). This includes cutting, scratching, burning, or otherwise injuring yourself to release tension or lessen emotional pain.

  • Binge eating and other eating disorders.

  • Excessive drinking.

  • Drug abuse.

  • Shopping sprees, reckless spending, or gambling that causes you to go into debt.

  • Any type of addictive behavior. This includes gambling, shoplifting, and other behaviors.

  • Not setting healthy limits. This may include depriving yourself of proper rest and nutrition in order to meet the demands of others.

  • Intense or chronic feelings of anxiety, anger, impulsiveness, unworthiness, hopelessness, or loss.

WHAT CAUSES SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR?

The underlying causes of self-destructive behavior are personal and may include:

  • Difficulty managing stress.

  • Trauma or abuse (including in past life events).

  • Other mental health issues, such as clinical depression and low self-esteem.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I WANT TO HURT MYSELF?

  • See your health care provider or counselor. He or she will help you recognize the source of your problems, sort out your feelings, and get the help you need.

  • Avoid alcohol and drugs.

  • Try distracting yourself with other activities (such as chewing gum, exercising, cleaning, or snapping rubber bands) until you are calm and can seek help.

  • Learn how to deal with stress in healthy, positive ways (such as with relaxation techniques or exercise).

  • Learn to identify and avoid the things that trigger your self-destructive behavior.

  • Get involved in a local support group.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You are experiencing suicidal thoughts.

  • You experience illness or injury as a result of self-destructive behavior.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

Y our behavior is out of control and your life is in danger. Call :

  • The police.  

  • Your health care provider.

  • Local emergency services (911 in U.S.).

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.