**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.