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When I get really sad or anxious in public I use my nails to scratch myself to distract myself. Some leave scars and some don't. Is that considered self harm even though it doesn't draw blood?

7 Answers
Last Updated: 03/14/2021 at 12:59pm
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Jennifer Patterson, LMFT, ATR-BC

Art Therapist

Life can be messy. Sometimes you need a little support to make your way through it. I love to help guide people through their challenges & to find the beauty in our messes.

Top Rated Answers
May 29th, 2018 3:04pm
Do you find this to be more of a nervous tick or as something that you use to relieve pain and punish yourself? Self-harm seems to be more of a punishment towards yourself as if you're angry at yourself. However, I think regardless of what it's considered you should speak with a therapist about other ways you can distract yourself (rubberband on your wrist, play a game in your head or on your phone, etc.!) Best of luck, sweetheart :)
June 12th, 2018 11:22pm
Yes. Self harm doesn't have to be serious to be considered self harm, if you're consciously hurting yourself then that's a problem. Researching ways to manage your stress in public could help. Seeking help from a professional who can give you proper advice is another option :)
July 2nd, 2018 8:08am
Yes it is considered self harm. Because self-harm is an act of injuring/harming yourself on purpose, as you said, you did it to distract yourself from feeling anxious.
March 3rd, 2020 7:05am
Self harm behavior can bee considered any behavior that leads to both physical and emotional harm. It can be very difficult to recognize the causes for these behaviors, but it seems that you've determined it which is a very good step towards helping yourself confront and cope with it. Self harm can be our mind and unconscious telling us that something is very wrong and it can't cope with it. Although sadness and anxiousness in public occur often for people, it depends on how you cope with it! If you are interested in knowing more about it, I recommend doing some research on social anxiety as well as agoraphobia. Also maybe see a doctor on this.
June 23rd, 2020 6:11pm
It is considered self harm even if you don't draw blood. There are healthier and less harmful alternatives. When I am anxious I resort to chewing bubble gum. Maybe give that a shot. You never know it could help. Other alternatives to anxiety also include grounding yourself. You focus on one thing for each of your five senses. Something you can hear, touch, smell, taste and see. This method is commonly used on people with anxiety. It helps slow your heart rate by getting you to focus on the environment and not the people. It's worth a shot as well.
September 28th, 2020 3:43pm
Who said self-harm is defined by the drawing of blood or leaving behind of scars? Self harm is any action done with the intention and result of harming oneself, irrespective of the drawing of blood or leaving of scars. And even if it seems to provide relief, it is short term and largely harmful not only physically but mentally too, because self harm is addictive, and no addiction is ever any good for anyone. It is really advisable for you to get some professional help, it can really help reduce your social anxiety or stress in a harmless, productive manner.
March 14th, 2021 12:59pm
Yes, this does count as self-harm, any way of harming yourself, wether it leaves marks or draws blood, it does, I do not in any way encourage self-harm, there are lots of things you could do instead, for example- -Go somewhere private and scream as loud as you can, it is scientifically proven to release in toxins, and it lets everything out just like when you self-harm it let’s your emotions out (for some people) -punch something soft -squeeze a stress toy (carry one around) -take a cold bath (really does help) There are so many things to do instead! Hope you do ok soon friend!