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What Are Self-Destructive Coping Mechanisms?

negative coping mechanisms, Self-Destructive Coping Mechanisms, self-destructive, mental illness, treatment, recovery, support

When you are stressed, depressed, or anxious, you can use coping mechanisms to feel better through coping mechanisms. However, not all coping mechanisms are good. Some things we do in a tough time are self-destructive, and these self-destructive coping mechanisms may seem like a go-to option. However, you should avoid these harmful activities at all costs, especially if you are in a stressful situation.


A distressing habit that will result in many long-term health problems, such as obesity and diabetes, is overeating. This usually appears as the habit of filling ourselves up with foods full of fat, sugar, and overly processed foods. Not only does it cause long-term effects, but it can also have short-term negative impacts on your sleep, mood, creativity, and more.

Not Eating Enough

As you guessed, this self-destructive coping mechanism is the opposite of overeating. Many under-eaters trick themselves into thinking they are actually benefiting themselves since they, perhaps, aren’t eating unhealthy food. Alternatively, they want to feel in control of something, so they choose not to eat. However, not getting enough nutrition is just as damaging. Under eating is usually a bandage some people use for serious self-image issues and other psychological problems they may be dealing with.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Alcohol and drug abuse is an obvious form of self-destructive behavior, and many people sadly go this route thinking it’ll help their mental state. The truth is that these self-destructive coping mechanisms create endless misery in the lives of people who become addicts, as well as their friends and family members. Substance abuse disorder and mental illness often go hand-in-hand, and many hospital settings offer treatment programs for both.

Chronic Procrastination

Are you a procrastinator? That means you put tasks off even though you have the time and knowledge to finish them sooner. Often, procrastinating leads to poorer results. In 2014, a study revealed that about 20% of adults are chronic procrastinators, which carries potentially problematic consequences for themselves and others. Chronic procrastination can negatively affect many things, such as work, health, school, and relationships.

Sabotaging Relationships

A complex symptom of self-destruction is sabotaging your relationships, and it involves many destructive behaviors, such as possessiveness, jealousy, neediness, emotional manipulation, violence, and so on. When someone doesn’t feel worthy of love, they unconsciously manifest this into their relationships by choosing to behave and treat others.

Risky Sexual Behavior

Risky sexual behaviors can appear in the form of anonymous sex, unprotected sex, or sex with multiple and/or high-risk partners. Any risky sexual behavior can have devastating consequences, including contracting STDs and STIs, unwanted pregnancy and/or abortion, and physical and emotional trauma. Engaging in these self-destructive coping mechanisms indiscriminately can lead to unpredictable negative results and severely impact your life’s trajectory.

Neglecting Your Physical Well-Being

Physical health is essential for everyone, and problems can arise when you neglect it. From not getting enough sleep to refusing to exercise or eating unhealthy food, you can quickly go from being in good shape to having adverse health effects. These are all classic signs of common self-destructive behavior, and those dealing with depression or addiction often showcase them.

Disregarding Your Mental Health

It is true that mental health is just as important as physical health. By avoiding your psychological health issues, such as stress, anxiety, OCD, depression, paranoia, and so on, you are neglecting your mental well-being. It will only lead to more problems and delay healing, which can perpetuate long-term issues.

Ignoring Medical Needs

Do you avoid visiting the doctor, dentist, and other medical facilities? Failing to seek and get medical care, when necessary, can result in severe and even permanent consequences, sometimes even leading to death. Whether the reason for not going is due to fear, distrust in medical professionals, anxiety about procedures, or other reasons, it’s imperative to get the medical care you need when you need it.


An extreme physical expression of self-destructive behavior is self-harm. This self-destructive coping mechanism means someone has low self-worth. Furthermore, they desire to address emotional pain physically, such as by cutting themselves and hiding it from others.

Harming Others

The negative influence you have on others, whether saying mean words or doing something physical, is a dangerous and self-destructive coping mechanism. Not only does this hurt others physically, but you are causing isolation by pushing them away. Furthermore, you may have to deal with serious legal issues depending on your charges, leading to more stress.

How to Stop Being Self-Destructive

You could do a few things to help turn negative coping mechanisms into positive ones, such as practicing meditation and mindfulness, focusing more on self-care and self-love, or even trying emotional catharsis. This is when you take something you like doing, such as drawing or painting, and put your emotions and feelings into that, turning it into something positive.

Keeping a self-reflection journal and writing in it daily could also help get your feelings out in the open instead of holding them inside. You can also seek professional help, talking to a therapist who can teach you the tools to stop self-destructive coping mechanisms and adopt healthy ones.

We Are Here to Help You Learn Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Contact our medical facility today to ask any questions about mental health programs. If you or a loved one have self-destructive coping mechanisms, our trained professionals can help. Anyone can learn to deal with stress healthily through inpatient care, outpatient programs, and other therapies. From mental health illness to substance abuse, we are ready to help you turn your life around so you can enjoy living.

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