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Self-mutilation Symptoms & Diagnosis

Symptoms

The symptoms of self-mutilation vary. The most common symptoms include:

  • Cutting of skin with a sharp object (most common)
  • Skin carving or burning
  • Self-punching or scratching
  • Needle sticking
  • Head banging
  • Eye pressing
  • Finger, lips, or arm biting
  • Pulling out one's hair
  • Picking at one's skin

Rarely, in very severe cases, self-mutilation can include:

Diagnosis

Self-mutilation can be difficult to diagnose. People who self-mutilate often feel guilty and ashamed about their behavior and may try to hide it. A doctor may first see the physical harm caused by self-mutilation. To be diagnosed, symptoms should meet the following criteria:

  • Preoccupation with physically harming oneself
  • Inability to resist self-injurious behavior resulting in tissue damage
  • Increased tension before and a sense of relief after self-injury
  • Having no suicidal intent in the self-mutilation

To make an accurate diagnosis, the psychologist or psychiatrist will assess other conditions, like personality or mood disorders, and whether there is suicidal intent.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2019 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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