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What Causes Self-Injury?

Learn if self-injury is caused by a mood, personality, or anxiety disorder from psychiatrist Ankur Saraiya in this Howcast video.


Is Self-Injury Caused by a Mood, Personality, or Anxiety Disorder? The idea of self injury is talking about a behavior and trying to boil down any behavior into a simple cause and effect is very problematic, but it's understandable that one would want to know what causes self injury because hopefully you could try to prevent it. So in terms of anxiety, mood and personality disorders actually all three of them can be related to behavior that leads to self injury. For example, with mood disorders when people are depressed, they consider harming themselves and will make suicide attempts and that's a form of self injury. When individuals have certain personality disorders they will either impulsively try to do something to harm themselves because they're feeling very distressed and can hurt themselves that way or in certain situations they're not actually trying to hurt themselves, but they use their physical experience of pain as a way of dealing with feelings of detachment so in that way they're indirectly harming themselves physically even though it's serving a positive for their disorder. And finally, with anxiety disorders often times people will self medicate often with alcohol or other drugs and they're doing it in a way to try to deal with their anxiety but the use of these substances ends up causing them harm in the long run. So, there's different kinds of self injury and each of the different kinds can have multiple causes. And this is one of those situations where it's most important to get an evaluation from a qualified professional because the situations are so complicated and because the consequences can be so serious, it's very important to get a good evaluation and find out what treatment is available because obviously you want to try to prevent any self injury that we can.

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