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Cutting

Question:

I am a 17 year old female that suffers from PTSD. I have been doing on and off good with my past and dealing with it. But when I get upset, I want to hurt myself. I have done so for so many years and I have been in treatment for that and suicide. I want to live, cutting is not a suicide attempt for me, but I can’t seem to get over this cutting thing. I was on various medication, but nothing worked, my sadness is from experiences not from a chemical imbalance. A friend of mine has a cutting problem and her doctor put her on roveria. She said it helps her with the cutting and her depression. I guess it is new cause I have never heard anything about it. Do you know what it does? Could it possibly help me with my desire to cut? I want to stop, but I don’t know how so I will do anything or try anything that might work.

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Answer:

Cutting (on the wrist usually), burning or otherwise harming ones self without the intention of suicide is referred to as “parasucidal behavior” by mental health professionals. People who engage in this bewildering behavior often report that in some way it makes their experiences seem more real again (when things feel numb), that it brings with it a feeling of control (when other things seem out of control), or that it is even a form of self-punishment. Cutting IS dangerous because although persons who cut will usually report they have no intention of suicide, it is a form of suicide rehearsal. Also – there is serious risk of making a “mistake” and actually killing ones self, not to mention the risk of infection, the feelings of shame that get associated with the cutting (which is usually experienced as an uncontrollable compulsion to cut), etc. There are a variety of therapies that can help with cutting and the disorders associated with cutting behavior (frequently Borderline Personality Disorder and disorders involving emotion regulation difficulties). I’m not familiar with any medicine by the name “roveria”. However, there are some medications that psychiatrists use which can help somewhat with the urges to cut and the feelings that underlie this urge. I will recommend that you consult with a psychiatrist if you have not done so already. Also – there is a well studied therapy known as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (or DBT) that has been shown helpful for helping people to keep a more even emotional keel and thus avoid the need to cut in the first place. A psychologist or other therapist with DBT training should be available in your community – you can call local psychologists and ask if they know of anyone who has worked in this mode. You will be best off with both psychiatric and psychotherapeutic care at the same time.

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