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Nothing makes you sadder than watching someone you love spiral into self-destructive behaviors. Self-destructive behaviors are those actions that cause someone to do great harm to themselves. When these acts become a habit, like with substance abuse, there is an increased risk of long-term damage or even death.
When someone intends to engage in acts that are harmful to themselves it can be caused by low self-esteem. On the other hand, the acts could be in response to thrill seeking. Some people may not even see that they are acting in ways that could harm them.
Engaging in risky behaviors can even be a coping reflex for dealing with mental health issues like depression or anxiety. The earlier that these patterns of self-destructive behavior are addressed and treated, the better the outcome will be.
What Causes Self-Destructive Behaviors?
Self-destructive behaviors may spring from life struggles, such as abuse or neglect. Someone who has lived through trauma, such as the sudden death of a loved one, may have been scarred. These people may seem to give up on their future when seeing their self-destructive behaviors.
In some people, being self-destructive is in response to something bad that has happened to them. In others, these acts may be symptoms of a serious mental health disorder. Certain mental illnesses, like schizophrenia and some other disorders, are associated with this type of conduct. Regardless of the cause of the actions, it is clear that the person is in need of help from a mental health worker.
8 Signs of Self-Destructive Behavior
There is a wide range of negative behaviors that can result in a poor outcome. Some of these acts begin as a means for seeking pleasure before eventually turning against them. The following are signs of self destructive leanings:
- Pessimism. Some will use negative thinking that becomes self-fulfilling. These folks cling to negative thoughts about all things, and convince themselves that there is nothing worth living for.
- Substance abuse. Substance abuse reflects a desire to escape routine daily life. It may have been pleasurable at first before turning into a serious threat to wellness. People who fall into substance abuse are in the active process of causing harm to their bodies and minds.
- Compulsions. Examples of compulsive behaviors include eating disorders, gambling, sex, and shopping addictions. These all share the common trait of acting on impulse, and then the behavior becomes a compulsive habit.
- Sabotaging relationships. Rooted in the deep-seated belief that they are not worthy of love, someone will try to ruin their relationships. They will be so hard to be with that people will reject them.
- Martyrdom. Some people are very needy for attention and approval. They may go to great lengths to draw attention to themselves. They wish to portray themselves as the person who has made great sacrifices for others, and will boast about their supposed selfless acts.
- Neglecting responsibilities. Some people are so focused on their own self-pity that they begin to neglect their duties. With all their thoughts centered on themselves, they fail to keep up with commitments.
- Isolating behaviors. Someone who withdraws from social contact may be feeling depressed. If so, there will be other depression symptoms present. When someone avoids friends and family they may feel they are not worthy of love.
- Self-harm. One of the more grim self-destructive behaviors is self-harm. This involves someone causing damage to their body due to feelings of distress. Self-harm can involve cutting, burning, head banging, pinching and bruising the skin, and breaking bones.
Getting Someone Help for Self Destructive Behaviors
Treatment for self destructive behaviors will center on discovery. Why is there a need to gamble? What is behind the online spending on useless items? Why are you hiding away from friends and family members? Getting to the root problem is the key to resolving the behaviors.
Psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is a core treatment for those who cause harm to themselves. Therapy provides a safe space for the patient to work through any emotional issues. These might be grief and loss, a background of trauma or abuse, a sad life event, or relationship struggles.
Addiction counseling. If the self-destructive behaviors include substance abuse, the treatment plan will include treatment. This may begin with a medical detox and then on to rehab.
Antidepressants. There are four types of antidepressants available that may help the individual. With nearly thirty different antidepressants on the market, a drug will be trialed based on the diagnosis. Sometimes a patient may need to trial several drugs before finding the one with the least side effects.
Psychosocial education. The patient may benefit from learning better relating skills. These tools might include conflict resolution skills, and emotion regulation.
Holistic therapies. Self-care will further enhance the treatment results. These are activities that help the person to self-sooth and achieve a more relaxed and peaceful state of mind. Mental health treatment now includes holistic therapies. These include mindfulness, yoga, acupuncture, meditation, massage, equine therapy, and art and music therapy, aromatherapy, and guided meditation.
Lifestyle counseling. Patients will learn to improve wellness through making lifestyle changes. These include making changes in diet, making a fitness plan for regular exercise, and getting better sleep quality. All of these areas impact mental health, so learning how to establish healthy lifestyle habits is an important aspect of treatment.
For many individuals, self-destructive behaviors are a call for help. He or she may not even be aware that they are causing serious harm to themselves. They may not know how much damage they are doing to their futures. If you or a loved one is showing self-destructive traits, reach out for the help and support you deserve.
The Treatment Specialist Offers Helpful Information on Self-Destructive Behaviors and Treatment
The Treatment Specialist is an online resource for informative articles on mental health conditions and treatment options for adults, teens, and families. For more information and guidance please contact the team at (866) 644-7911.