Non-suicidal self-injury in adolescents.

Plener, PL; Kaess, Michael; Schmahl, C; Pollak, S; Fegert, JM; Brown, RC (2018). Non-suicidal self-injury in adolescents. Deutsches Ärzteblatt international, 115(3), pp. 23-30. Deutscher Ärzte-Verlag 10.3238/arztebl.2018.0023

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Background: 25–35% of adolescents in random samples drawn from German schools have been found to have manifested at least one episode of nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI). The prevalence in samples from child and adolescent psychiatric clinics is approximately 50%. NSSI can arise as a symptom in the setting of various types of mental illness. Methods: This review is based on a selective literature search carried out in the PubMed, PsycINFO, and Cochrane Library databases, with special consideration of regional study samples. Results: NSSI is usually resorted to as a dysfunctional coping strategy for emotional regulation. The main risk factors for NSSI include bullying, accompanying mental illnesses, and a history of abuse and neglect in childhood. Neurobiological studies have shown abnormal stress processing in persons with NSSI and an elevated pain threshold in persons with repetitive NSSI. Psychotherapeutic interventions of various kinds lessen the frequency of NSSI; to date, no particular type of psychotherapy has been found to be clearly superior to the others. Randomized controlled trials have revealed small to moderate effects from dialectic-behavioral therapy and mentalization-based therapy in adolescent patients. No psychoactive drug has yet been found to possess specific efficacy against NSSI in adolescents. Conclusion: The first ever German-language clinical guidelines for the treatment of NSSI have now been issued. Psychotherapy is the treatment of first choice. More research is needed so that subgroups with different disease courses can be more clearly defined.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Review Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy > Research Division

UniBE Contributor:

Kaess, Michael


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Deutscher Ärzte-Verlag




Livia Hug

Date Deposited:

10 Apr 2018 11:02

Last Modified:

29 Oct 2019 12:15

Publisher DOI:





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