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Vol 19, No 4 (2022)
Review paper
Published online: 2023-01-17
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Non-suicidal self-injury and eating disorders — the role of emotional regulation

Jakub Krzysztof Rogalski1, Iwona Ewa Makowska2, Kinga Węglewska1, Kacper Płeska1
Psychiatria 2022;19(4):292-298.


Introduction: Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is socially unaccepted, direct, repeated and deliberate harm done to one’s own body. It is significant problem, especially among adolescents, due to increasing frequency of their occurrence. Although the definition of NSSI does not include Eating Disorders (ED) behaviors, there is a strong relationship between them. It is postulated that this condition is caused by deficits in the emotional regulation. Materials and methods: The resulting paper is a review of the most important information on emotional dysregulation in patients with ED and NSSI. The criteria for diagnosis, prevalence, forms of behavior under which it occurs, predisposing and protective factors, as well as the neurobiological basis of NSSI are presented. The aspect of the simultaneous coexistence of NSSI and ED and resulting consequences were also emphasized. Results: Studies indicate the existence of predisposing and protective factors in the context of the occurrence of NSSI and ED in adolescence. It has been shown that emotional dysregulation is a key mechanism in the pathogenesis of these mental disorders and also suicidal behaviors. Moreover, there is an increased risk of more frequent NSSI done by people previously diagnosed with ED, as well as subsequent development of ED by patients making NSSI. Conclusions: NSSI and ED can trigger each other, often resulting in simultaneous co-occurrence. This condition increases the risk of subsequent suicidal behavior. Therefore, it seems important to remain particular clinical vigilance making a diagnosis of the combination of these two disorders and increased suicidal risk. It is necessary to undertake effective diagnostic and therapeutic actions.
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