Taken from the Mayo Clinic which is located HERE.
PREPARING FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT
Your first appointment may be with your family doctor, another primary care doctor, a school nurse or a counselor. But because self-injury often requires specialized mental health care, you may be referred to a mental health provider for evaluation and treatment.
What you can do
To help prepare for your appointment:
- Make a list of symptoms you’ve had, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for the appointment.
- Note your key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins, herbs or supplements that you’re taking.
- Take a family member or friend along, if possible, for support and to help you remember information.
- Be ready to provide accurate, thorough and honest information about your situation and your self-injuring behavior.
Prepare a list of questions to make the most of your time with your doctor. Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What treatments are available? Which do you recommend for me?
- What side effects are possible with that treatment?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you’re suggesting?
- Are there medications that might help? Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you’re prescribing?
- What should I do if I have an urge to self-injure between therapy sessions?
- What else can I do to help myself?
- How can I (or those around me) recognize that things may be getting worse?
- Can you suggest any resources that would help me learn more about my condition and its treatment?
Don’t hesitate to ask questions any time you don’t understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions about your self-injuring and emotional state, such as:
- When did you first begin harming yourself?
- What methods do you use to harm yourself?
- How often do you cut or injure yourself in other ways?
- What feelings and thoughts do you have before, during and after self-injury?
- What seems to trigger your self-injury?
- What makes you feel better or worse?
- Do you have social networks or relationships?
- What emotional issues are you facing?
- How do you feel about your future?
- Have you had previous treatment for self-injury?
- Do you have suicidal thoughts when you’re feeling down?
- Do you drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or use street drugs?
TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS
Although some people may ask for help, sometimes self-injury is discovered by family members or friends. Or a doctor doing a routine medical exam may notice signs, such as scars or fresh injuries.
There’s no specific diagnostic test for self-injury. Diagnosis is based on a physical and mental evaluation. A diagnosis may require evaluation by a mental health provider with experience in treating self-injury. A mental health provider may also evaluate you for other mental illnesses that may be linked to self-injury, such as depression or personality disorders. If that’s the case, evaluation may include additional tools, such as questionnaires or psychological tests.
TREATMENTS AND DRUGS
There’s no one best way to treat self-injuring behavior, but the first step is to tell someone so you can get help. Treatment is based on your specific issues and any related mental health conditions you might have, such as depression.
Treating self-injury behavior can take time, hard work and your own desire to recover. Because self-injury can become a major part of your life and it’s often accompanied by mental disorders, you may need treatment from a mental health professional experienced in self-injury issues.
There are several treatment options for self-injuring behavior.
Known as talk therapy or counseling, psychotherapy can help you identify and manage underlying issues that trigger self-injuring behavior. Therapy can also help you learn skills to better manage distress, help regulate your impulsiveness and other emotions, boost your self-image, better your relationships, and improve your problem-solving skills.
Several types of individual psychotherapy may be helpful, such as:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps you identify unhealthy, negative beliefs and behaviors and replace them with healthy, positive ones.
- Dialectical behavior therapy, a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that teaches behavioral skills to help you tolerate distress, manage or regulate your emotions, and improve your relationships with others.
- Psychodynamic psychotherapy, which focuses on identifying past experiences, hidden memories or interpersonal issues at the root of your emotional difficulties through self-examination guided by a therapist.
- Mindfulness-based therapies, which help you live in the present, appropriately perceive the thoughts and actions of those around you to reduce your anxiety and depression, and improve your general well-being.
In addition to individual therapy sessions, family therapy or group therapy also may be recommended.
There are no medications that specifically treat self-injuring behavior. However, your doctor may recommend treatment with antidepressants or other psychiatric medications to help treat depression, anxiety or other mental disorders commonly associated with self-injury. Treatment for these disorders may help you feel less compelled to hurt yourself.
If you injure yourself severely or repeatedly, your doctor may recommend that you be admitted to a hospital for psychiatric care. Hospitalization, often short term, can provide a safe environment and more intensive treatment until you get through a crisis. Day treatment programs also may be an option.
LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES
You can do some things for yourself that will build on your treatment plan. In addition to professional treatment, follow these self-care tips:
- Stick to your treatment plan, including keeping psychotherapy appointments and taking prescribed medications as directed.
- Keep your doctor or mental health care provider’s phone number handy, and tell him or her about all incidents related to self-injury.
- Appoint a trusted family member or friend as the person you’ll immediately contact if you have an urge to self-injure or if self-injuring behavior recurs.
- Take appropriate care of your wounds if you do injure yourself or seek medical treatment if needed — call your relative or friend for help and support.
- Don’t share instruments used for self-injury, which raises the risk of infectious disease.
- Ask your doctor for advice if you have sleep problems, which can significantly affect your behavior.
- Learn how to include physical activity and relaxation exercises as a regular part of your daily routine.
COPING AND SUPPORT
If you or a loved one needs help in coping, consider the tips below. If there’s a focus on thoughts of suicide, you or your loved one can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24-hour crisis line at 800-273-8255 (800-273-TALK).
Coping tips if you self-injure
- Recognize the situations or feelings that might trigger your desire to self-injure. Make a plan for other ways to soothe, distract or get support for yourself so you’re ready the next time you feel that urge.
- Connect with others who can support you so that you don’t feel alone. For example, reach out to a family member or friend, contact a support group or get in touch with your doctor.
- Learn to express your emotions in positive ways. For example, to help balance your emotions and improve your sense of well-being, become more physically active, practice relaxation techniques, or participate in dance, art or music.
- Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs. They affect your ability to make good decisions and can put you at risk of self-injuring.
- Avoid websites that support or glamorize self-injury. Instead, seek out sites that support your recovery efforts.
Coping tips if your loved one self-injures
- Get informed. Learning more about self-injury can help you understand why it occurs and help you develop a compassionate but firm approach to helping your loved one stop this harmful behavior.
- Try not to judge or criticize. Criticism, yelling, threats or accusations may increase the risk of self-injuring behavior.
- Let your loved one know you care no matter what. Remind the person that he or she is not alone and that you are available to talk. Recognize that you may not change the behavior, but you can help the person find resources, identify coping mechanisms and offer support during treatment.
- Share coping strategy ideas. Your loved one may benefit from hearing strategies you use when feeling distressed. You can also serve as a role model by using appropriate coping strategies.
- Find support. Consider talking to other people who’ve gone through the same thing you’re going through. Share your own experiences with trusted family members or friends and keep in close touch with the professional taking care of your loved one. Ask your friend or loved one’s doctor or therapist if there are any local support groups for parents, family members or friends of people who self-injure.
- Take care of yourself, too. Take some time to do the things you enjoy doing, and get adequate rest and physical activity.
There is no sure way to prevent your loved one’s self-injuring behavior. But reducing the risk of self-injury may include strategies that involve both individuals and communities — for example, parents, schools, medical professionals, supervisors, co-workers and coaches:
- Identify people most at risk and offer help. For instance, those at risk can be taught resilience and healthy coping skills that they can then draw on during periods of distress.
- Encourage expansion of social networks. Many people who self-injure feel lonely and disconnected. Forming connections to people who don’t self-injure can improve relationship and communication skills.
- Raise awareness. Adults, especially those who work with children, should be educated about the warning signs of self-injury and what to do when they suspect it. Documentaries, multimedia-based educational programs and group discussions are helpful strategies.
- Promote programs that encourage peers to seek help. Peers tend to be loyal to friends even when they know a friend is in crisis. Programs that encourage youths to reach out to adults may chip away at social norms supporting secrecy.
- Offer education about media influence. News media, music and other highly visible outlets that feature self-injury may nudge vulnerable children and young adults to experiment. Teaching children critical thinking skills about the influences around them might reduce the harmful impact.
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