Depression, Self-Harm and Addiction

Depression, Self-Harm and Addiction

Depression has great potential to severely impact a person’s mental state. Some people who have depression might find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, while others might turn to acts such as self-harm to cope with their emotions. The mix of depression, self-harm and addiction can become a deadly cocktail for an individual, and potentially turn their coping skills into an addiction.

The Impact of Depression

At the beginning of 2011, the Center for Disease Control released information that 1 in 10 Americans report symptoms of depression. As depression can be caused by an array of factors, it is important to understand the impact on the mental state of someone who has it. Depression can affect individuals in the following ways:

  • Home – On the home front, depression can make it difficult for an individual to uphold household responsibilities such as making dinner, cleaning, doing laundry, and caring for children and a spouse.
  • Work – Less productivity at work is common for individuals with untreated depression, as they are more likely to be easily distracted and unable to focus.
  • Play – Participating in social events might become more difficult, as an individual might not feel up to attending. Depression can also lower an individual’s sex-drive.

The Link Between Depression and Self-Harm

Depression can make individuals feel extremely helpless, as they do not know how to get out of their clouded mental state. It can also encourage feelings of worthlessness, which can in turn lead to self-harm practices to alleviate some of that pain. If repeated as a long-term coping mechanism, self-harm can become highly addictive. There are numerous ways that self-harm can be conducted, including the following:

  • Cutting – Cutting the skin can provide a sense of relief for a person who is feeling worthless due to depression. It can give him or her an outlet for self-hate, and the pain becomes a form of release. The more this action is repeated, the more the brain connects the self-harm to the feelings of relief, encouraging the individual to continue the behavior.
  • Re-opening wounds – Whether caused by an accident or from the individual picking at the skin, re-opening wounds can be a way for an individual to regain control by re-injuring the affected area. Similar to cutting, this gives a person a sense of relief from her issues all while providing her with control over something.

Other forms of self-harm can include burning, branding, breaking bones, punching and obtaining multiple piercings.

As depression can quickly begin to fuel acts such as self-harm, the brain is more likely to send messages to the individual to continue these acts. For many, self-harm can become an obsessive-compulsive act where the more they do it, the more they feel the need to do so. Often similar to a substance abuse problem, self-harm continues in a vicious cycle of avoiding the real issues while attempting to self-medicate the symptoms.

Do You Have a Problem With Depression or Self-Harm?

If you are suffering from depression and self-harm, call our toll-free 24 hour helpline. Do not take it out on yourself. Let us help you find the right treatment options to heal from your depression and stop hurting yourself.