JOURNAL ARTICLE

Nonsuicidal self-injury disorder: an empirical investigation in adolescent psychiatric patients

Catherine R Glenn, E David Klonsky
Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology 2013, 42 (4): 496-507
23682597
Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a growing public health concern, especially among adolescents. In the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, NSSI is classified as a criterion of borderline personality disorder (BPD). However, a distinct NSSI disorder will now be included in DSM-5 as a "condition requiring further study." It is important to note that, at this time, there is little direct evidence supporting the DSM-5 proposal over the DSM-IV classification. To address this need, the current study examined the extent to which NSSI occurs independently of BPD and has clinical significance beyond a diagnosis of BPD in adolescent psychiatric patients. NSSI disorder was assessed based on the proposed DSM-5 criteria in 198 adolescents ages 12 to 18 (74% female; 64% Caucasian, 14% Hispanic, 10% African American, and 12% mixed/other ethnicity) from a psychiatric hospital. Major Axis I disorders, Axis II BPD, and suicide ideation and attempts were assessed with structured clinical interviews; emotion dysregulation and loneliness were measured with validated self-report questionnaires. First, results indicated that NSSI disorder occurred independently of BPD. Specifically, although there was overlap between the occurrence of BPD and NSSI disorder, this overlap was no greater than that between BPD and other Axis I disorders (e.g., anxiety and mood disorders). Second, NSSI disorder demonstrated unique associations with clinical impairment-indexed by suicide ideation and attempts, emotion dysregulation, and loneliness-over and above a BPD diagnosis. Taken together, findings support the classification of NSSI as a distinct and clinically significant diagnostic entity.

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