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Self-Harm Relapse : How To Identify The Triggers & Avoid It From Happening Again

what does relapse mean in self harm

Resuming self-harming behavior after abstaining for roughly four weeks is considered a self-harm relapse. A relapse into self-harm might occur using the same method or a different habit. 

The person may experience the increased temptation to engage in self-harm activities during a relapse period and in the hours or days that follow, as well as feelings of poor self-esteem and remorse. The healing process is seldom a straight line, though, and those who relapse into self-harm can find comfort and ongoing guidance in healthy alternative habits as well as the assistance of a mental health therapist.

What is self- harm and self-harm relapses?

When someone purposely hurts themselves, it is known as self-harm. This is generally done by beating, cutting, or burning oneself. This practice is often used to cope with challenging emotions, including anxiety, despair, or trauma. 

A self-harm relapse occurs when someone stops self-harming and then picks it up again. Several factors, like stress, relationship issues, or even feeling overburdened, might cause this. Despite this, relapsing into self-harm can be a severe setback for someone who has made a lot of effort to stop this harmful behavior.

It's crucial to get help if you or someone you love is experiencing a self-harm relapse. A good first step can be to speak with a mental health expert like a therapist or counselor. They can offer assistance, direction, and tools for creating healthy coping mechanisms. 

Remember that self-harming is not a healthy or productive approach to coping with emotional anguish. Other, more effective methods of dealing with difficulty exist. If you need help, remember that you're not alone and that assistance is available. Be bold and ask for help!

What are the early signs and symptoms to identify self-harm relapse

Self-harm relapse can be challenging since people constantly try to conceal their emotions out of embarrassment or concern for criticism. But, there are a few widespread symptoms that can tell someone is having a relapse:

  • Reappearing scars or fresh wounds - If you find someone with a history of self-harming activity having newly reopened scars or wounds on their body, that could be an obvious possibility of a relapse. 
  • Increased isolation or withdrawal - When dealing with intense emotions, they could avoid social situations and isolate themselves more. This may be a sign of a recurrence of self-harm.
  • Changes in mood or behavior - Individuals experiencing a relapse may become more irritable, and anxious, or can show signs of depression. They may also start engaging in other self-destructive behaviors, like substance abuse.
  • Neglecting self-care -A person can be dealing with self-harm relapse if they stop taking care of themselves, such as by ignoring personal hygiene, skipping meals, or not getting enough sleep.
  • Preoccupation with self-harm - If a person starts muttering or thinking about harming themselves a lot more frequently, then this can be accounted as a trigger for self-harm relapse. 


You must seek help immediately if you or someone else shows these symptoms. Early intervention can significantly lower the chances of self-harming behaviors. To manage self-harming behaviors and create healthy coping skills, it is widely advised to seek help from a mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor.

What are the most effective ways to avoid self-harm & future relapses


Self-harm is a complicated problem that frequently takes expert assistance to resolve. Therapy, counseling, clinical psychology, or psychiatry can be a constructive approach to prevent self-harm and future relapses, especially if you're battling self-harming tendencies. 

Therapy and counseling: It can be an excellent method to prevent you or someone you know who has self-harming tendencies since they can provide a safe and supportive environment to explore your feelings and develop healthy coping skills. A skilled therapist can help you identify the exact trigger points and ultimately help you overcome them. With the use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or DBT or Mindfulness-based approach, this can be achieved in no time. 

Clinical psychology is an area of psychology that focuses on diagnosing and treating mental health issues. Clinical psychologists partner with you to create a holistic treatment plan that includes medication, if necessary, in addition to offering therapy or counseling. To ensure you're getting the best care possible, they might also collaborate with other medical specialists, such as psychiatrists or family doctors.

Psychiatry is a field of medicine that focuses on identifying and treating mental health conditions with medication and other therapeutic methods. Your symptoms can be assessed by a psychiatrist, who can then create a treatment plan for you that may involve drugs to treat anxiety or mood disorders and therapy or counseling to deal with underlying emotional problems.

However, it is essential to note that taking medicine can sometimes have adverse effects on someone going through such a complex state of mind, which is why it is always advised to avoid such situations. Therapy or counseling is a safe space where you also get help and assistance without any adverse affecting medical formula. So how do they work exactly? Let's look into it from a deeper perspective.

How does therapists work with an individual who has the tendency to self-harm

Therapists provide supportive and non-judgmental care for patients who tend to self-harm. The person can deal with the deeper feelings and triggers that lead to their self-harm behaviors in a private, safe setting.

  • A therapist will first conduct an examination to determine the severity of these self-harm habits and any underlying mental health disorders. They will partner with the individual to pinpoint their triggers and why they are having these relapse episodes. Investigating the experiences, connections, and behavioral patterns in the past can help find the root causes and help identify which treatment approach will fit the person right.
  • Once the therapist gets a sound understanding of the root causes and everything associated with it, they will work on developing personalized treatment approaches. Combining therapy methods, like CBT or dialectical behavioral therapy, helps individuals develop coping skills to manage the symptoms effectively. 
  • Making a safety plan is one of the central tenets of self-harm therapy. The patient and the therapist will work together to create a plan outlining what to do in the case of overwhelming feelings or the urge to harm oneself. This could involve self-soothing methods, distraction techniques, talking to a support person, or, if necessary, getting emergency assistance.

It's critical to remember that healing from self-harm therapy is a process that requires time. However, as mentioned earlier, if performed with self-care habits, treatment can do wonders for you. Individuals can learn to control their overwhelming feelings and create healthier coping skills with the proper guidance and direction. 

What are the other self-care strategies to avoid harming yourself


You must realize that recovery is possible if you've struggled with self-harm or are now engaging in self-harm actions. You can learn to control overwhelming emotions and prevent future relapses with the proper assistance and skills. Here we have compiled a few self-care habits that can help you with your self-harming tendencies and future relapses. 

  • Develop healthy coping skills - Find healthy coping strategies that are effective for you by working with a mental health specialist. It could be journaling, meditation, a short walk, or regular exercise.
  • Practice self-care - Taking care of yourself is the prime factor in managing self-harm relapses. By taking enough rest, eating healthy food, and doing the things that make you happy and relaxed, you can effectively reduce the triggers to hurt yourself.
  • Build a support network - It is helpful to have a support network of friends, family, or mental health specialists. When you're struggling, ask for assistance and support from those you can trust.
  • Identify triggers - You can prevent self-harming behaviors in the future by being aware of what causes them. Keep track of your feelings and activities, and look for patterns that might tempt you to hurt yourself.
  • Develop a safety plan - A safety plan can be helpful if you're feeling overwhelmed and in danger of self-harm. This may involve techniques for diverting your attention, contacting someone from your closed circle, or, if necessary, getting emergency relief.

Remember, recovery is a challenging task and takes a lot of work. If you are craving results out of therapy without you doing anything from your end, then let me tell you, it does not work like that. Treatment is like a bridge. If you open up and go with the flow, results can be magical, but if it is a dead end at your side, there is no point in seeking help. 

Final Thoughts

Self-harming behavior is a severe issue that can affect a person's physical and mental health in the long run. But, people can learn to control overpowering emotions and prevent further relapses by putting alternate coping mechanisms into practice, developing self-care routines, and getting professional support. 

It's essential to get help from a mental health professional if you or someone you know is experiencing self-harming tendencies. At Lifebulb, we are committed to offering the best practical support for individuals coping with self-harm behaviors. Our skilled therapists can create individualized treatment plans for your requirements and objectives. So, don't be reluctant to reach out and take the initial step toward rehabilitation. 
Schedule an appointment with us right away to get started on your path to a healthier life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Stress, unpleasant feelings like grief or anger, a sense of being overburdened or powerless, interpersonal problems, and exposure to self-harm triggers like talk or images are some common triggers of self harm.

Keeping a notebook or record of your post thoughts and emotions can be helpful. You can recognize patterns and triggers using this. You might also look back on your previous instances of self-harm to find any recurring themes or triggers.

creating a safety plan for when you feel triggered, establishing a strong support network, learning healthy coping skills, getting professional treatment or therapy, and engaging in self-care and self-compassion practices are all effective ways to prevent self-harm relapse

If you experience a relapse and start self-harming once more, it's important to get help and assistance. This may involve getting in touch with a reliable friend or relative, getting in touch with a mental health therapist, or using crisis resources like a hotline or emergency services.

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