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Why do I feel the need to physically harm myself when I feel depressed?

22 Answers
Last Updated: 07/16/2018 at 3:57am
1 Tip to Feel Better
United Kingdom
Moderated by

Tanyia Hughes, Adv Dip Psy


I have been through a lot in life too, which helps me to be able to empathize with situations, thoughts and feelings that we have. Sometimes, it's not easy just being human.

Top Rated Answers
February 15th, 2016 6:42pm
I blame myself for the way i feel and the situations i'm in, therefore i feel i deserve the pain and suffering..
July 18th, 2016 9:58am
Because you feel like it's the only solution. You're probably hurting yourself because you feel like punishing yourself. Emotional pain is just as bad as physical pain so by hurting on the inside could make you want to hurt on the outside. To me... physical pain numbs the emotional pain which is why I did it.
February 11th, 2015 6:24pm
**NOTE: I do not condone self harming as a way of coping** The feeling of needing to physically harm oneself when feeling depressed can occur for a few different reasons. This is something I have dealt with for many years, and am still working through it.But here are the most common reasons I've done it or have heard other people have self harmed: 1. It gives a sense of control-when we're depressed we can't really control whether or not we're happy. We just end up in this "mood" and anyone that has dealt with depression, knows that you can't just turn it on or off whenever you want to. 2. We want to feel something-often times when people are depressed they feel emotionally "numb", but if they cut,burn, scratch, pull their hair out, binge, purge, or any other way of self harming, it gives them the sense of feeling SOMETHING; even if it does have negative affects. 3. It's distracting-Sometimes when being depressed it can come with a lot of unwanted thoughts, and all we want is for those thoughts to go away! We need a distraction, and sometimes the normal ways of coping (ie listening to music, journaling, taking a really hot/cold shower/bath, going for a walk) don't work, so we turn to self harming. I know that for me personally there have been times that I've self harmed and even though it only gave me 15 minutes of "peace" from unwanted thoughts, that was enough for me. No, self harming is not the way to deal with our problems, it doesn't make our problems go away, it doesn't really fix anything....but it's something people deal with every single day and it's something I wish was addressed more often. If this is something that you struggle with please, please, talk with someone-there are so many other resources out there to use as a way of coping with depression, stress, or any other emotions. Realize that it's ok to have these emotions-we're human, but they need to be dealt with appropriately. Stay strong!
June 23rd, 2015 8:10pm
Harming yourself accomplishes two things. First it is a form of punishing yourself so you can feel as badly on the outside as you do on the inside. Secondly, it releases endorphins and temporarily makes you feel better. Unfortunately it's not a good overall strategy and the harm required to feel better escalates over time. It's best to deal with what's depressing you in other ways and avoid the harm cycle altogether.
February 23rd, 2016 4:32am
When you feel depressed, you often feel guilty and like you deserve pain. This can lead to several different forms of self harm.
April 8th, 2015 2:26pm
Because you take mental, emotional pain and imagine it as physical. You want it out. So cutting the flesh feels like an escape. The blood lost is like looking at the pain being left from your body. Of course, this never ends the pain. It never helps.
March 20th, 2015 11:08pm
Scientifically speaking, pain releases endorphins, so causing yourself physical pain brings out the feel-good receptors. Also, looking at it in a bit of a different way, it's a way for you to have control when you feel like you're losing it.
July 12th, 2016 6:08pm
Cause you need to prove yourself you feel something even if it is pain, and the sensation is relaxing in a strange way
February 1st, 2016 9:49am
Some people use this as another way to express their emotions. This sometimes releases tension that someone has.
May 22nd, 2017 5:52am
Self-harm often gives a sense of release due to the release of adrenaline and dopamine that comes with seeing injuries and feeling pain. People may also self-harm as a cry for help or because they feel like they need to be punished for something.
April 8th, 2015 3:15am
It's either an automatic reacton, you associate depression with the harm. It's a way to cope, although not a very good one. Take a red marker and write, draw, design where you would normally cut. You might feel release when you do it but try to redirect your actions, hold an ice cube until you can't stand it,
April 10th, 2015 6:55pm
thats natural be honest you feel that way ...and its like many causes of that problem at the moment so don't worry
August 8th, 2016 7:34am
Because when we are depress.. we just need someone to blame.. its human nature and the easiest prey is ourselves..and we want to hurt ourselves so we feel less depression as our mind would be divert.. but keep that in mind would the physical harming do anything? I don't think it would just increase the pain.. You could harm yourself but the strength required for harming yourself, if you could use half of it.. you would be out of this depression. Life would never throw anything bigger than your strength.. and the things you're facing is not your fault.. yourself need love.. and care. Don't depend on anyone to love you or care for you.. Love yourself, Care about yourself.. so anyone would see, how to treat you.
January 9th, 2017 4:05pm
Because many people believe they can 'see' pain leaving the body this way. Harming yourself will not take away the pain mentally. It starts in the mind - following mindfullness, practicing the ability to control emotions and creating a safe balanced enviromment for yourself. Open up, speak to someone, chat online.
July 7th, 2015 12:26pm
Some people feel guilty about their depression so they want to harm themselves to punish for the issue. This is not the best solution. Talk and learn more about yourself with a listener is the solution.
July 14th, 2015 6:02am
Self harm is often a symptom of depression. Naturally, when one feels more depressed, they will lean on the things that their mind has connected with depressed feelings; such as self harm. The great thing about this is that you are able to identify a trigger of your self harming. By learning more about depression, you can identify what is causing this behavior and start the road to recovery:)
March 29th, 2015 8:22am
If you've been doing it for a long time already, your first thoughts on what to do if you're depressed might be the same on what you are usually doing already. In your case, Physically harming yourself is the way you cope up with your feelings. It's not a healthy way of releasing your feelings. There are other ways of expressing it i.e. writing, drawing, painting, listening to music or maybe you can also talk to someone (a friend/family member/therapist) to whom you can think can help you.
October 11th, 2016 12:34pm
It's a negative way to express you're emotions. You feel like the only way you can stop feeling and just focus on one thing is by harming yourself. And maybe for that split second, it takes your mind away from all the depressed feelings, but after that split second, the feelings will come back and you will feel them harder.
February 14th, 2017 9:14pm
Sometimes people believe that, that is the only release they have to help with the emotions they are dealing with.
May 15th, 2017 9:38am
When feeling depressed, you may not know how to cope, so you feel physically harming yourself is the only thing you can do.
July 19th, 2015 10:54am
At first, it can be a form of punishment, or a stress relieve. Self harming, or cutting, causes pain in your body. Your brain will release chemicals like endorphins, to deal with this pain, and make it tolerable. Over time, your body can become addicted to these chemicals, and then you feel a need or craving for them. Your body associates these chemicals with self harm, so it's negatively reinforcing the idea that self harming makes you feel good and better.
July 16th, 2018 3:57am
It can help you return to reality in way. When you self harm it may make you feel like you can be back in reality. It can also possibly be because you feel numb and it helps you to feel like things are real.