Your first appointment may be with your family doctor, another primary care doctor, a school nurse or a counselor. But because self-injury often requires specialized mental health care, you may be referred to a mental health provider for evaluation and treatment.
What you can do
To help prepare for your appointment:
- Make a list of symptoms you've had, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for the appointment.
- Note your key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins, herbs or supplements that you're taking.
- Take a family member or friend along, if possible, for support and to help you remember information.
- Be ready to provide accurate, thorough and honest information about your situation and your self-injuring behavior.
Prepare a list of questions to make the most of your time with your doctor. Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What treatments are available? Which do you recommend for me?
- What side effects are possible with that treatment?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- Are there medications that might help? Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
- What should I do if I have an urge to self-injure between therapy sessions?
- What else can I do to help myself?
- How can I (or those around me) recognize that things may be getting worse?
- Can you suggest any resources that would help me learn more about my condition and its treatment?
Don't hesitate to ask questions any time you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions about your self-injuring and emotional state, such as:
Dec. 06, 2012
- When did you first begin harming yourself?
- What methods do you use to harm yourself?
- How often do you cut or injure yourself in other ways?
- What feelings and thoughts do you have before, during and after self-injury?
- What seems to trigger your self-injury?
- What makes you feel better or worse?
- Do you have social networks or relationships?
- What emotional issues are you facing?
- How do you feel about your future?
- Have you had previous treatment for self-injury?
- Do you have suicidal thoughts when you're feeling down?
- Do you drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or use street drugs?
- Shedler J. The efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy. American Psychologist. 2010;65:98.
- Self-harm in young adults. National Alliance on Mental Illness. http://www.nami.org/Content/ContentGroups/Helpline1/SelfInjury_Fact_Sheet_FINAL.pdf. Accessed Oct. 11, 2010.
- What is self-injury, self-harm, self-abuse? The Official Newsletter of NAMI Springfield. 2012;2:1.
- Cutting. TeensHealth from Nemours. http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/mental_health/cutting.html. Accessed Oct. 11, 2012.
- Facts for families: Self-injury in adolescents. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. http://aacap.org/page.ww?name=Self-Injury+in+Adolescents§ion=Facts+for+Families. Accessed Oct. 11, 2012.
- Depression. National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/index.shtml. Accessed Sept. 14, 2012.
- A family guide: What families need to know about adolescent depression. http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=Child_and_Adolescent_Action_Center&template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=24806. Accessed Sept. 14, 2012.
- When you fear someone may take their life. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. http://www.afsp.org/index.cfm?page_id=f2f25092-7e90-9bd4-c4658f1d2b5d19a0. Accessed Sept. 14, 2012.
- Mental health and teens: Watch for danger signs. Healthychildren.org. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/Pages/default.aspx?nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%3a+No+local+token. Accessed Oct. 11, 2012.
- Hofmann SG, et al. The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 2010;78:1.
- Self-injury. NAMI On Campus. http://www.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Find_Support/NAMI_on_Campus1/Mental_Illness_Fact_Sheets/Self-injury.pdf. Accessed Oct. 12, 2012.
- Barrocas AL, et al. Rates of nonsuicidal self-injury in youth: Age, sex, and behavioral methods in a community sample. Pediatrics. 2012;130:39.
- Lewis SP, et al. The scope of nonsuicidal self-injury on YouTube. Pediatrics. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org. Accessed Oct. 11, 2012.
- Palmer BA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. (Nov. 1, 2012).
- Alarcon RD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. (Nov. 4, 2012).