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Ask the Experts

Question:

If my friend cuts herself and puts out cigarettes on herself, what can I do for her? What treament options does she have from professionals? And what causes this?

Answered by: Barbara Stanley

Cutting and burning oneself is frequently associated with borderline personality disorder, a disorder in which individuals have difficulty regulating their responses to emotional upsets such as perceived rejection. It can also occur in the context of depression.

This type of self injury is often a way in which the individuals obtain relief from emotional states that are experienced as intolerable.

Depending on motives, cutting can either be suicidal or not. Ofen a series of superficial cuts are intended for emotional relief and are not suicidal.

The treatment most commonly used for cutting is Dialectical Behavior Therapy, a form of cognitive behavior therapy, although other therapies may be helpful.

Medications, such as antidepressants may help relieve the symptoms of the primary disorder and, therefore, help with decreasing cutting.