What are the Signs of Self-Harm in Someone with BPD?

Self-harm BPDThe media has provided us with a woefully limited stereotypical image of someone who self-harms, conjuring images of scowling, thin teens, maybe clad in black with dyed hair.

Just like every other stereotype, while this image may apply to some who engage in self-harm, it doesn’t come close to encompassing the wide array of people who self-harm or, more importantly, the reasons people engage in self-harmful behaviors.

Self-harm is typically a sign of a much larger issue, and is often a symptom of a mental health disorder, such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). The problem with the stereotype is that we may turn a blind eye to a friend, loved one, or co-worker who may be self-harming because they don’t look like the “typical” person who would self-harm.

Signs of Self-Harm

Self-harmful behaviors don’t discriminate. Anyone from a successful businesswoman to your teenager’s best friend may be engaging in self-harmful behaviors. But if you don’t recognize the signs of self-harm, you may never even notice, as most people who engage in self-injury go to great lengths to cover the evidence.

The signs of self-harm include the following:

  • Thin, almost cat-scratch like cuts
  • Unusual bruises or burns
  • The person regularly wears long sleeves or heavy clothing, even if it’s warm
  • The person seems depressed or anxious
  • The person becomes angry or defensive if asked about the bruises, burns, or cuts

Why do People Self-Harm?

Self-harm is also known as non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), as those who engage in self-harm typically don’t intend to end their life. So why do they do it?

There are many reasons someone may self-harm:

  • Self-harm may be a coping mechanism, the pain being a controlled physical pain versus an uncontrollable emotional pain from a past trauma such as sexual abuse or childhood neglect.
  • Self-harm may distract someone from everyday stresses such as relationship problems, financial troubles, or a stressful work environment.
  • Self-harm may be an attempt to draw concern from others, or a cry for help.
  • Self-harm could even be a symptom of psychosis. The person may actually be hearing “voices” warning that if they don’t cut, bang their head against the wall, or engage in other self-harm, that something bad will happen.

Not everyone who self-harms suffers from psychosis, of course. Still, there is truly no safe amount of self-harm, so help should be sought.

Self-harm can, in fact, lead to irreparable physical damage. Ultimately, it can even lead to death from either cutting too deep or from a resulting infection.

There are other, healthier coping skills out there. There are even therapies, such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), that can help you to stop your self-harmful behaviors.

If you or someone you love is engaging in self-harm, along with Borderline Personality Disorder or another mental health disorder, find a Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) treatment center for women today to get the help you need to stop harming yourself and learn healthier ways to cope.

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2 Responses to “What are the Signs of Self-Harm in Someone with BPD?”

  1. Sarah 12. Aug, 2015 at 10:57 am #

    I think this article about self-harm is really good. As a person who does this, I found a lot of what this article is saying is true. I’m glad it is put here for other people who do this, or their loved ones, to read.

  2. Rui Ribeiro 23. Oct, 2015 at 4:37 am #

    I have the bad habit of chewing one or both sides of my tongue, as if it was a chewing gum, whenever I’m excited or feeling anxious. From time to time I get a continuous feel of low level pain in the affected áreas, that can keep for a few days. It’s a nuisance, but I just can’t stop doing it. Would that be considered a self-harm practice in the context of a BPD (other symptoms aside)? Thank you

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