Both in the Gregorio Marañón as in the Vall d'hebron (Barcelona), two of the hospitals with a specific unit for adolescents who harm themselves, insist that it is a phenomenon that not to grow and that dates back to the early 2000s. Given the lack of national data and the paucity of research, the psychiatrists associated with the use of “uncontrolled” of the Internet and the dissemination of explicit images of injuries that teens do on social networks like Instagram.
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What leads them to hurt themselves? Some were victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse, or psychological. Others suffer from anxiety, depression or personality disorder. There are also those who simply do not know how to manage their frustration teen. “Some of these young people have a mental state of dissociation, they change the state of consciousness and not feel pain when cut, on the contrary, secrete endorphins and live it as a moment of relief”, explains María Mayoral, a clinical psychologist and coordinator of Prism, a mental health program for teens that the Gregorio Marañón launched in 2018 with the increase of income. “There's a widespread misconception and misperception that they do so to call attention; it is much more complex, these teens have a mental pathology and need the help of a professional,” he says. The Ministry of Health does not have official data on self-harm.
The majority of patients admitted with cuts inflicted with a knife, glass or blades removed from pencil sharpeners in the arms, wrists, thighs, or parts of the torso. Others have burns or bumps. “It is a response of the young people of today to the frustration and the fact that the Internet increases the contagion effect”, explains Carlos Delgado, a psychiatrist Gregorio Marañón. 90% of his patients tell him they feel no pain when you do this. “Is addictive; the trend is to increase the damage and the frequency,” he adds. “It is a mental process complicated, many of them are hurt because they believe that they deserve it, they feel guilt for something that happened to you”. Delgado believes that the Ministry should be involved, gathering a group of experts who analyze the situation and advise on a preventative campaign. “In the nineties was done with the anorexia, and bulimia; with this topic we are already late,” he laments.
In the case of Lucia, her mother learned when she was 13 years old. The alerted his supervisor of the institute. For years, tells the mother, you could see her stretch marks for the body; I thought that was for losing and gaining weight and not by tying ribbons to pressure. “In sixth grade had an attitude complicated, and in THAT shot,” he says. A month ago he was discharged to his daughter, but knows that there may be relapses. The average recovery is within two years. “The tutor told me that it was a fashion, that the kids spent images by Whatasapp. My daughter was sick and I knew not to watch it.” Lucy does not want to tell what it is that torments her. His mother either and the nurse nods. There is not yet prepared.
The Hospital Vall d'hebron, is another that has seen an increase of those that self-injure. In the past three years, 20.5% of revenues for the emergency department correspond with those cases. “It is a relatively new problem and is a symptom that something is not being done well; there are no specific resources to prevent and professionals are not trained to deal with this pathology, which affects mostly adolescents aged 15 to 17 years,” says Marc Ferrer, chief of psychiatric hospitalization in the centre, warning that programs like the Gregorio Marañón are scarce in Spain.
The Spanish Society of Psychiatry complaint that Spain only spends 5% of their health budget to mental health, compared with 7% of european average. “It is not a priority or the prevention or the funding of research projects”, said Celso Arango, the president of the organization.
psychologists warn that the problems of adolescents to manage their frustration can be traced, in many cases, to children as a result of the lack of communication with their parents. “Not to attend to the emotional needs of your child from a young age can lead to this type of conduct; if they repress their emotions, it is easier to block and take decisions inadequate and harmful,” explains María Mayoral, of the Gregorio Marañón.
The history of self-harm Martha, 21 years of age, who does not want to give his real name, kicked off during a family discussion in the car when I was 16. “There was a discussion, I was very nervous and I started to scratch her arms up to me blood,” says the young man. Promised her mother that there was no repeat, but went into a loop that I did not know exit. “Dismantled pencil sharpener, used staples... the Internet gave me many ideas of how to do it without that my life ran on danger”. Martha was diagnosed with retardation, a learning disability at age three and later, in primary school, attention-deficit without hyperactivity. His family not had the support I needed. Each time I lost more nerves. His mother tells of how days prior to the examinations, his daughter became very nervous, and it was a head-banging against the tiles of the kitchen. “In therapy you realize how the physical injuries you are being cheated on, are a false anesthesia”.
“get to the hospital without knowing they are sick.”
The teens, they have doctors, they arrive at the hospital without being aware that suffer from a disease. “With the therapy, understand that they are attacked because they can't regulate their emotions”, explains Begoña Cerón, nurse, mental health specialist at the Gregorio Marañón. There used therapy, dialectical —behavior individually and in groups—, consisting of five modules focused on teaching them skills to break with his pattern of behavior. Relaxation exercises to take cawareness of one's self and training to detect when to start the negative thinking that triggers “all”. The nurses call it the x-ray of the emotion.
“there is First a thought hostile, which is repeated on the head; it stimulates the central nervous system and the body begins to secrete adrenaline and cortisol, from there appear physical symptoms, such as sweating in the hands or difficulty breathing, and lastly comes the planning of the physical damage to stop the avalanche of mind”, describes Carmen Martín Alegre, another of the nurses on the team.
The key is that you learn to do something different to stop that loop. “It's not that you forgive someone for the harm that they have cause (in the case for instance of physical or sexual abuse), but that to accept your emotion and learn to manage it so that it does not take them to hurt themselves”, he adds. The medication is combined with therapy in most acute cases.Updated Date: 30 December 2019, 05:00