HeadMeds gives young people in the United Kingdom general information about medication. HeadMeds does not give you medical advice. Please talk to your Doctor or anyone else who is supporting you about your own situation because everyone is different. Please read more important details about our site.


Self-harming is choosing to inflict pain on yourself in some way, and is usually a sign that something else is wrong. You may be anxious, depressed or stressed, and feel things are building up so much you need some kind of ‘release.’ You may feel this ‘release’ from harming yourself and use it as a way to cope with your problems, to reduce distress, and to try and gain control of the issues worrying you. Self-harm may also be a way of punishing yourself.

Roughly 10 per cent of 15-16 year olds (1 in 10) have self-harmed, and 25,000 children and young people are admitted to hospital each year due to the severity of their injuries, so if you are self-harming, you are not alone, and help is available.

Treating self-harm

Self-harming can be very dangerous. It is a definite sign of underlying problems, and if it got out of hand you could risk accidentally killing yourself.

Many young people self-harm in private and want to keep it a secret for fear of how people will react. If you can talk to someone it may help how you are feeling.

You could talk to a parent or other family member, friend or teacher, or go see your GP.

Your GP will talk to you about how you are feeling and what the underlying issues behind your self-harming might be. They might then offer counselling or therapy including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and may also refer you to the child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) for an assessment, or to hospital for treatment.

Symptoms of self-harm

Symptoms of self-harm could include:

  • Cutting or burning yourself
  • Biting your nails excessively
  • Developing an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia
  • Taking an overdose of tablets
  • Taking excessive amounts of drugs or alcohol

For more information about self-harm visit the YoungMinds website or the Royal College of Psychiatrists website.

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It is most likely your GP will offer you some form of counselling or therapy.

If your GP suggests that medication may help you, the HeadMeds website will provide you with more information about the medication they are recommending, how it works, how you should take it and how you might feel. It should also be able to answer any questions you might have about going on medication. 

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