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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 35  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 166-171

Nonsuicidal self-injury in children and adolescents

1 Department of Psychiatry, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
2 Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Kaohsiung Medical Center and College of Medicine, Chang Gung University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
3 Department of Psychiatry, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital; Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, College of Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Correspondence Address:
M.D., Ph.D Cheng- Fang Yen
No. 100, Tzyou First road, Kaohsiung 807
M.D Wen- Jiun Chou
No. 123, Dapi Road, Kaohsiung 833
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/TPSY.TPSY_34_21

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Background: Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI), self-harm behavior without suicidal intent, is a serious problem that is prevalent among adolescents. The fact that NSSI is listed as “condition for further study” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, indicates that its severity is recognized in clinical medicine. Methods: In this paper, we review the recent literature on the risk factors for NSSI, as well as its epidemiology, etiology, risk factors, and treatment. Results: The prevalence of NSSI in adolescents is about 17%–18%. Notably, it is more common in girls. In psychiatric units, the reported rate of NSSI among adolescents is 60%. Considered a strategy by which adolescents blanket their emotional discomfort with physical pain, NSSI may increase the risk of developing psychiatric disorders and involve physical sequelae. NSSI has many etiologies and risk factors, including interpersonal problems, social contagion, adverse childhood experiences, and neurobiological factors. No definite evidence supports the psychopharmacological treatment of NSSI in adolescence. Recent studies showed that dialectical behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and mentalization-based treatment have therapeutic effects in adolescent patients with NSSI. Conclusion: NSSI is highly prevalent and highly comorbid with other psychiatric disorders. To prevent and manage this problem more effectively, further research on and understanding of the etiological characteristics is warranted.

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