Depression & Self-Harm

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I’ve been cutting myself for a while now. Usually the cuts are small and the bleeding stops after 2 minutes. But today I cut until I saw white flesh. The bleeding was more severe, and lasted 4-5 minutes. My problem is that I don’t know when I should see a doctor for my scars? And my other problem is that my father is a doctor, and I’m so scared that he will find out if I have been to the ER. I know that the doctors don’t have the right to tell him, but I live in a small town, so I’m sure that he will find out if i have been to the ER. I try to take care of my scars, but know I am not sure if I can…. Please help me.

I’m seeing a therapist and I’m on medication (Cipralex), but none of this seems to work.

A. The fact that you are cutting, and the cuts are becoming more severe, is concerning. You shouldn’t be trying to hide the scars but rather attempting to receive help by reporting these incidents to both your therapist and your parents. Cutting is dangerous and indicative of being in extreme emotional pain.

I’m wondering if your therapist is aware of the full extent of your cutting behavior. My sense of the situation is that you have been less than forthcoming about the nature of your cutting and it could explain why your therapy isn’t working. Your therapist can’t properly help you if you withhold important information. Your therapist needs to know the full truth.

You need to be honest. Be detailed about how much you cut, how deep and how often. You should also be honest about your opinion regarding your treatment, that you don’t think it is working. Without your feedback, neither your therapist nor your prescribing physician are fully aware of your condition and can’t adjust your treatments accordingly.

Another idea is to keep a journal to document your feelings. Pay close attention to the thoughts or situations that precede your urge to cut. It could shed light on the underlying problem and help to uncover what is motivating your self-injurious behavior.

Finally, go to the emergency room when necessary. Do it even if it means that your parents will find out. Your safety is of the utmost importance and I can assure you that your parents would agree. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice Blog

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Aug 2013

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). Depression & Self-Harm. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/08/11/depression-self-harm/