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How Does Emotional Abuse Affect You Physically?

How Does Emotional Abuse Affect You Physically?

The word abuse is an umbrella term that encompasses different ways one person intentionally harms another. Often people erroneously consider abuse to be made up solely of physically violent encounters. There are, however, many different types of abuse (e.g., physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, etc.), and each carries equally harmful consequences for the victim. Emotional abuse is comprised of non-physical, abusive behaviors. Psychology Today asserts that “Emotional abuse is a pattern of behavior in which the perpetrator insults, humiliates, and generally instills fear in an individual in order to control them.” Common examples of emotionally abusing behaviors may include, but are not limited to the following examples, provided by Healthline:

  • Stalking
  • Threatening
  • Attempting to control access to one’s family or friends 
  • Trying to control clothing choices 
  • Yelling
  • Name-calling 
  • Insults 
  • Intentionally, publicly embarrassing someone 

Emotionally abusive tactics are meant to undermine one’s self-esteem. Healthline goes on to explain that “emotional abuse is harsh and unrelenting in matters big and small.” While emotional abuse may not leave physical marks on a victim, it most certainly can cause a plethora of adverse physical effects. Medical News Today delves into the short- and long-term effects that can occur because of emotional abuse, some of which can include, but are not limited to the following: 

  • Short-term physiological effects:
    • Muscle tension
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Moodiness
    • Body aches and pains
  • Long-term effects on the brain and body:
    • Chronic pain
    • Insomnia
    • Anxiety
    • Social withdrawal
    • Emotional dysregulation
    • Headaches 

One study found that emotional abuse could increase one’s susceptibility for developing chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Young people that have endured emotional abuse are at higher risk of developing additional medical issues such as eating disorders, obesity, substance use disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Prolonged emotional abuse can lead to diminished self-esteem and lowered confidence levels. With guidance from a qualified mental health professional, a young person can reverse the physiological damage caused by emotional abuse. 

For Information and Support

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, in the long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.


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