Staying up late when you have an early meeting the next morning isn’t the best idea, but it probably won’t ruin your career. Self-destructive behaviors are more serious actions that could harm you physically or mentally. Fortunately, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help people change these negative behaviors.
Call Woodland Recovery Center at 662.222.2989 to learn more about how CBT can improve life for people prone to self-destructive behaviors like non-suicidal self-injury or drug or alcohol misuse.
What Are Self-Destructive Behaviors?
Self-destructive behavior is loosely defined as any behavior that can cause self-harm. It may be extremely serious and immediate harm, such as attempting suicide, or more subtle harm, like making derogatory comments about oneself.
You may be at a higher risk for these behaviors if you’ve experienced the following:
- Physical or emotional abuse
- Problems with low self-esteem
- Drug or alcohol addiction
- Social isolation, bullying, exclusion
- Childhood trauma, such as neglect, abuse, or abandonment
If you have friends or family members who also practice self-destructive behaviors, you may be more prone to them yourself.
Self-Destructive Behaviors and Mental Health
Not only can self-destructive behavior harm your mental health, but in some cases, it stems from a pre-existing mental health condition. The loneliness and isolation many people with mental health disorders experience may lead to self-harming behaviors, or the disorder itself could be at the root of the self-harm.
For example, the rate of self-destructive behavior is especially high among people with post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact, self-destructive behavior is considered to be a symptom of PTSD.
Exhibiting these types of behaviors doesn’t automatically mean you have a mental health disorder. Self-destructive behavior could be a coping mechanism that helps you handle stress. However, continuing with maladaptive behavioral patterns can increase your risk of harming your mental health.
Identifying Self-Destructive Behaviors
Many people are unaware of their own self-destructive behaviors. Putting themselves down in front of co-workers or hanging on to unhealthy relationships can become so habitual they don’t even notice they are doing it. Identifying self-destructive behaviors when they’ve become a “normal” way to act can be difficult.
Some harmful habits are more obvious than others. Examples of self-destructive behaviors include:
- Changing your personality or belief systems to please others
- Chronic avoidance or procrastination
- Aggressive behavior toward others
- Self-injury, such as hair pulling, burning, or cutting
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
- Binge eating or self-starvation
- Compulsive activities, such as gaming, shopping, or gambling
- Risky sexual behavior
- Wallowing in negative or self-pitying thoughts
- Suicidal ideation
The severity and frequency of self-destructive behaviors vary from person to person and even from episode to episode with the same person.
Can Self-Destructive Behavior Be Diagnosed?
Patterns of self-destructive behavior can be diagnosed by a mental health professional. A professional evaluation is important because it will help to clarify whether the behaviors are part of a mental health disorder or simply a coping mechanism you have developed over time.
The criteria for diagnosis include the following:
- Distress about your behaviors
- A preoccupation with self-injury or urges to self-injure
- Self-destructive behaviors provide a boost of positive feelings or relieve negative feelings
- At least five incidents of self-harm within the past year
Self-destructive behaviors are sometimes misdiagnosed as borderline personality disorder. It is important to be evaluated by a therapist who has experience treating people with self-destructive tendencies.
Find Help for Self-Destructive Behaviors at Woodland Recovery Center
If you’re still wondering about what destructive behaviors might be or if you recognize yourself or a loved one as having these behaviors, our therapy program can help.
Call Woodland Recovery Center at 662.222.2989 or fill out our online form to learn more about cognitive-behavioral therapy and other mental health support programs that can help you change negative ways of thinking and behaving.