October 27, 2023

Mental Health Effects of Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is not as easy to spot as physical abuse, but frequently its effects can be just as traumatic. Emotional abuse can involve a wide range of tactics, including gaslighting, shaming and manipulation. All these are intended to leave the victim feeling confused, powerless and hopeless.

Typically people suffering from long-term or short-term emotional abuse, and depending on the length of time, there can be varying mental health effects.

Long-term emotional abuse happens over many years. Examples are a child growing up in a home with an alcoholic parent or a sibling with anger issues. Someone may find themselves in a marriage with a narcissistic partner.

Short-term emotional abuse can result from a nasty exchange with a stranger or micro-interactions with colleagues or neighbours.

The following are some short-term and long-term effects of emotional abuse:


Short-Term Effects

  • Isolation or a sense of deep loneliness 
  • Self-doubt
  • Shame
  • Confusion
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety connected with social interactions
  • Feelings of powerlessness


Long-term Effects

  • Neuroticism, or the tendency toward a depressed mood or negative emotions like anger
  • Chronic stress
  • Physical health issues like muscle tension and shortness of breath
  • Attachment issues
  • Apathy
  • Eating disorders
  • PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or CPTSD (chronic post-traumatic stress disorder)


You Can Heal from Emotional Abuse

With time, patience and plenty of self-compassion, it is possible to heal from the trauma of emotional abuse. Working with a mental health professional trained specifically to help people who have been victims of emotional abuse is a great starting point.


If you’d like to explore treatment options, please reach out to me. I am a Registered Social Worker and Psychotherapist. She hopes her blog can bring awareness to mental illness and help individuals seeking mental health care and the support needed.

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