A girl with self-harm treated with N-acetylcysteine (NAC)
Deliberate and recurrent self-harm could be regarded as addictive behaviour that can be treated with medication. In addiction, the dopaminergic mesolimbic reward system is activated. Pain caused by cutting stimulates the reward system through the opioid system. Glutamatergic neurotransmission follows the same pathway and plays a role in addiction as well. In this case-study a 17-year-old girl was successfully treated with N-acetylcysteine (nac) in order to reduce the frequency of self-cutting. In addition, in this case nac reduced the symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and depression. nac modulates the glutamatergic neurotransmission. This article provides possible explanations for the effect of nac in this case.