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Symptoms of self-harm

Self-harming can provide temporary relief from feelings such as anxiety, depression, stress or self-loathing.

The pain that is inflicted can release endorphins and a rush of adrenaline, which often become pleasurable to the sufferer and causes them to temporarily forget other negative feelings that they may be experiencing, although this is often short-lived, and the internal anguish often remains afterwards.

If you or someone you care about is experiencing symptoms of self-harm, it can be a very distressing time. It is important to realise that you don’t have to suffer alone, with Priory’s nationwide network of hospitals and wellbeing centres offering flexible treatment options which can fit around school, college and work commitments.

Self-harming is a relatively common behaviour but it is often concealed from friends and family members, so it can often be difficult to spot. If you are worried that a member of your family or a friend may be self-harming, look out for an increase in spending more time on their own, watch out for any tablets which may go missing and any sharp objects including knives and scissors.

Self-harming may start in childhood and increase in frequency and severity in adolescence as the pressures of growing up coupled with bodily and hormonal changes in puberty take their toll.

Drastic changes in a person’s situation, such as end of a relationship, an increase in work related stress, or any other significant personal trauma can contribute to the intense emotions which lead to the urge to self-harm.

This page was clinically reviewed by Dr Adrian Lord (MBBS) in August 2018, and is scheduled to be reviewed again in August 2020. To view all Priory self-harm specialists, please click here.

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