7 Mental Disorders That Are Linked With Self-Harm

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Self-harm is something that can occur in individuals without mental health disorders. However, it is true that those with mental illness are more likely to engage in self-harm than those without such.

While it isn’t always true in every case, below are several different mental disorders that may include self-harm as a sign or symptom.

Mental Disorders That Are Linked With Self-Harm

1. Depression

A common way self-harm presents itself in clients with depression is through physical wounds like cuts or burns. Someone with depression may tell you this is their way of crying out for help. Others with depression may self-harm because they feel that they deserve it out of guilt or because they want to feel something since depression typically causes anhedonia.

2. Borderline Personality Disorder

This disorder involves intense, irrational emotions. Those with Borderline Personality Disorder are often hypersensitive, emotionally unstable, attention-seeking, manipulating, and very hurt by rejection. Their instability makes them at risk of self-harming, often physically.

3. Eating Disorders

Disordered eating involves calorie restriction or excessive caloric intake. Sometimes an eating disorder revolves around maintaining a certain body weight. Other times, it doesn’t involve body image at all. Either way, eating disorders in general are a form of self-harm as they involve an unhealthy relationship with the consumption of food, which is an integral basic need.

The sufferer may not care about the health of their body while dealing with an eating disorder, or they may even intentionally starve themselves or eat horribly as a form of punishment- because, say, they gained weight, are dealing with a difficult situation, are mad at someone, etc.

4. Bipolar Disorder

Whether during the highs or lows of bipolar disorder, self-harm is not uncommon. During the lows or depression part of bipolar disorder, the client may turn to physical forms of hurting themselves. However, during the highs or manic parts of this psychiatric illness,

5. Schizophrenia

A common reason those with schizophrenia may engage in self-harm is due to delusions or hallucinations, whether auditory or visual, that they experience. For instance, they may hear a voice that tells them to punch themselves or have a delusion that there is a demon inside of them and that the only way to get it out of them would be to smash their head against the wall.

6. Anxiety Disorders

Self-harm in those with anxiety may represent itself similarly to those with depression. After all, anxiety and depression are often comorbid. However, there are other ways self-harm may present itself in anxious individuals due to distress: ripping out eyelashes, pulling out hair, avoiding eating, biting one’s nails or cuticles until they bleed, etc.

7. Substance Use Disorder

Substance use, whether drugs or alcohol, is an entire form of self-harm as is. It involves slowly but surely wrecking the body inside and out. Those abusing substances typically do not care about the harms their choice of substance has on their body. Some may even engage in substance abuse specifically to hurt themselves.

Are you or someone you know dealing with self-harm? A partial hospitalization program may be the best form of treatment to turn to for the time being.


Self-harm is something that can take on many different forms and can be presented across multiple psychiatric illnesses. From borderline personality disorder, to depression, to substance use disorder, it isn’t uncommon to see self-harm as a symptom one way or another.

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