Self-harming is a sign of emotional pain

Female hand with tablets.The number of teenagers in the UK who self-harm by poisoning themselves is on the increase, a recent study shows, with girls and young women particularly at risk.

The charity Life Signs says self-injury as ‘deliberate, non-suicidal behaviour that inflicts physical harm on the body and is aimed at relieving emotional distress’.

According to the BBC, the charity says people can be driven to self-harming because they think the physical symptoms of self-poisoning and other types of self-injury, such as cutting themselves, will be easier to cope with than their emotional pain.

But charities say self harm does not alleviate suffering, and although self-poisoners do not want to kill themselves, they put themselves at risk of serious injury and death.

And selfharmUK says self-poisoning is a type of self-harm, and doesn’t always mean someone is trying to end their life. The charity adds that overdosing on anything – whether it be alcohol, prescription drugs, over-the-counter medication or illegal drugs is a health risk and can potentially be a life risk, too.

University of Nottingham researchers said there was a 27% increase in known UK cases of teenage self-harm between 1992 and 2012, with 17,862 incidents reported during that 20-year period. Those most at-risk were girls and women from poor backgrounds.

The figures used in the study record cases where people required medical attention. People who self-poisoned but did not end up in hospital would not show up in the statistics.

Sometimes, it is more important to focus on how someone is feeling rather than what they do to themselves, says selfharmUK.

“Quite often, people find that more helpful. Self-harm often happens during times of anger, distress, fear, worry, depression or low self-esteem in order to manage or control negative feelings.

“Self-harm can also be used as a form of self-punishment for something someone has done, thinks they have done, are told by someone else that they have done, or that they have allowed to be done to themselves.”

Talking about the problem is one way to get to the reason behind self-harming and clinical hypnotherapists do this as part of their treatment. It is important to get to the heart of the matter – to find out why people do things or behave in a certain manner in certain situations.

The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) has more than 1,800 highly-trained and qualified therapists across the UK who are well suited to dealing with such issues as anger, stress and anxiety which can lead to depression.

Often in self-harming the problem is brought about by low self-esteem and this, too, can be effectively dealt with through hypnotherapy.

Anxiety and stress can manifest itself differently for everyone, says the NCH. A hypnotherapist can help assess the anxiety, identifying the root of stress or anxiety whether it is a situation, a physical issue, a past experience or a relationship.

Using this information and an agreed goal, the therapist works with the subconscious mind, using a variety of techniques, to bring about change.

Through therapy like this, a person can feel more confident and more relaxed in situations that have previously been tough or worrying. Many people say they are calmer and that they have more clarity of thought – able to make decisions more easily.

One self-harmer told the BBC that she needed to learn to love her body, as well as her mind and hypnotherapy can restore or repair damaged self-image. Another said it was like her brain had two bits – ‘the happy bit and the bad bit and the bad bit keeps pushing until it takes over’.

People who have experienced side effects of anxiety or low self-esteem, find that they are sleeping much better after hypnotherapy and, as a result, are able to work and live more effectively.