The Shocking Connection Between Anxiety And Verbal Abuse That Nobody Talks About

Lots of us sometimes struggle with anxiety, and if you haven’t ever seen a counselor specifically to address that anxiety, you may not know the roots of that anxiety.

For some of us, it may be a traumatic experience—and that traumatic experience might have been, or may continue to be, emotional and verbal abuse.

Verbal abuse doesn’t just hurt your feelings. Instead, it can have long-term consequences.

For instance, some research suggests that emotional abuse, including verbal abuse, can affect the connection between the two hemispheres of our brain, and this is especially true if that emotional abuse comes as we are still developing, as children.

For instance, in one study of young adults ages eighteen to twenty-five, researchers who were able to tell by brain scan who suffered from anxiety and depression, as compared to those who did not. One of the most significant findings? Many of those same individuals showing brain signs of anxiety underwent emotional abuse during their middle school years, which is one of the periods of time during which the brain develops most rapidly.

And verbal abuse contributes to the same type of low-term emotional damage that other forms of emotional abuse might. For instance, by lowering self-esteem and self-confidence, emotional abuse can trigger long-term relationship issues in victims’ lives, both personally and professionally. This in turn often manifests as another source of anxiety.

But let’s consider the effects of verbal and emotional abuse more closely.

Short-term effects may include the following:

  • Difficulties in personal communication
  • Tendency toward overanalysis
  • Lowered self-esteem and diminished enthusiasm toward life
  • Impaired decision making

Long-term effects may be more chronic, including:

  • Migraines and other chronic pain tendencies
  • Digestive disorders, including IBS and other gut issues
  • Anxiety, depression, and other emotional trauma
  • PTSD
  • Eating disorders
  • Suicide

Those are all potential consequences of words used poorly—verbal abuse is no laughing matter!

So let’s all agree to be careful with how we use our words, and when we see someone else being verbal or emotionally abused, be a friend in their corner. No one deserves that.




Learning Mind, PLOS, International Forgiveness, Depression and AnxietyJournal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology,


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