Mental or physical abuse can have a long-term effect on mental health. Trauma has a way of affecting the way you feel about yourself and your relationship with others. According to research, mental abuse is usually a predecessor to physical abuse, and the effects of mental abuse have no significant difference from those of physical abuse. Victims of physical and cognitive abuse have higher chances of developing mental health conditions like stress, psychological trauma, chronic sadness, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Relationship between mental abuse and mental health
Mental abuse is quite disturbing and often directed at your confidence and self-esteem. It involves verbal insults, threats, and other delicate tactics to control your way of reasoning. In mentally abusive relationships, the victim thinks they are crazy because the abuser may twist reality.
Mental abuse might be in the form of humiliation, cruel name-calling, threats, withholding affection, gaslighting, silent treatment, etc. Constantly criticizing a person's appearance, dismissing their achievements, and ignoring their need for attention can cause a decline in their self-worth.
Also, research has shown that mental abuse has long-lasting effects on the brain and behavior. Mental abuse in children affects the development of some vulnerable brain regions in sensitive individuals.
What is the relationship between physical abuse and mental health?
Physical abuse is arguably the most overt form of abuse, engaging the use of force to control, coerce, or humiliate the victim in a certain way. It involves deliberately causing bodily injury to you to create authority over you.
Physical abuse can be in the form of slapping, strangling, hitting, and even throwing objects. If you frequently receive these slaps to the face, blows to the body, or several other types of cruel physical contact. You are at a high risk of hosting different injuries in the healing process.
For women, physical violence comes with various challenges. And it has an association with chronic health challenges such as headaches and back pain.
People who are victims of abuse by their partners have reported more elevated rates of depression, eating disorders, disrupted sleeping patterns associated with insomnia, and are at high risk of substance abuse. They may also experience restlessness while carrying out their daily activities.
Specific changes take place in the brain due to abuse. Drastically abused children tend to exhibit critically damaged neural connections in the brain during adulthood. The parts of the brain with the control of emotion, attention, and other cognitive processes are adversely affected.
Some Cognitive health conditions caused by mental and physical abuse are;
Depression: The effects of mental abuse can be just as damaging as physical harm. It is also the primary psychological response to physical abuse. One can't remain the same after being through constant insults to one's person, frequent threats that affect happiness, and put-downs. This consistent stress can adversely affect mental well-being, thereby leading to depression.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): involves constant flashbacks of painful conditions with abusive persons. It might cause anxiety symptoms such as racing heart or sweaty palms.
Anxiety disorder: Victims of mental and physical abuse are bound to experience constant feelings of fear, worry, or anxiety intense enough to alter their daily activities.
Suicidal thoughts: severe physical and mental abuse can cause a victim to contemplate suicide or display suicidal tendencies.
Substance abuse: Some abused individuals frequently turn to alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism to deal with their trauma.
Borderline personality disorder: you may have this mental health disorder that affects how you think and feels about yourself and others. You will have difficulty managing your behavior and emotions, daily activities, and self-image issues.
Personality disorders such as narcissistic, histrionic, and borderline may occur due to abuse in childhood.
How do you deal with mental and physical abuse?
There are ways of dealing with mental or physical abuse. such as;
Exercise: The mind heals through the body. Good workouts can help you ease the rage, grief, and hurt that can arise as an aftermath of physical and mental abuse. It could be yoga, dance cardio, kickboxing, running, etc.
Art therapy: Embracing creativity support survivors of PTSD. Art therapy helps them create and integrate, expressing themselves in a transformative way. Hence, releasing trauma and the unfavorable consequences it had on them. It can be in writing, drawing, arts and crafts, painting, etc.
Understand the effects of trauma: Some effects of trauma that stem from abuse include eating disorders, substance abuse, flashbacks of physical abuse, suicidal thoughts, feeling of hate and low self-esteem, and sleeping disorders. It is essential to seek professional help if you notice these warning signs.
Embrace positive affirmations: The subconscious mind can refocus by forced positivity. Daily positive affirmations can interrupt disruptive and unwelcoming thoughts and change them into something better. You could say words like; I am beautiful, I love myself, and I am worthy because it can boost self-confidence.
Walk away: Do not endanger your life by continuing to live with your abuser. Distance yourself from an abusive person for your safety and peace of mind. Friendships or relationships laced with mental and physical abuse do not have room for improvement and happiness. It is, therefore, essential that you decide to protect yourself from mental trauma.
Avoid poor coping mechanisms: Avoid harmful coping mechanisms such as drug addiction, inappropriate eating patterns, alcohol misuse, etc.
Recognize the essence of healing: It is crucial to understand that healing is the gateway to subduing trauma. It employs processes that help you release trauma and heal.
Experiencing mental or physical abuse puts you at high risk of developing mental health illnesses like borderline personality disorder, anxiety disorders, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and alcohol or drug misuse.
Victims of mental and physical abuse also tend to have unstable and angry personalities, paranoia, and selfish behavior. Abused individuals should not be afraid to speak up and seek professional help and support in getting over their abuse experiences.
Pierre-Eric Lutz, M.D., Ph.D., Arnaud Tanti, Ph.D., Alicja Gasecka , Ph.D., et al. (2017). The American Journal of Psychiatry. Association of a History of Child Abuse With Impaired Myelination in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex: Convergent Epigenetic, Transcriptional, and Morphological Evidence.
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