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PTSD from emotional abuse is quite common as it arises from a kind of stress known as C-PTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Both PTSD and C-PTSD share similar signs. PTSD often leads to a number of issues such as control on feelings, personal relationships and negative thoughts about oneself.

PTSD is basically caused by a single traumatic event or events continued for several months or years. PTSD from emotional abuse can happen regardless of age, time and location. It can happen anywhere; in childhood, at work, in a relationship or through other interpersonal experiences. Emotional trauma can lead to both physical and emotional issues if not addressed properly.

PTSD is a condition, and needs to be treated professionally. If you are someone suffering from PTSD or if you’re suffering from such an issue; we are here to guide you. In this article, we will understand more about PTSD from emotional abuse, signs and other coping strategies.

What is PTSD?

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a mental health condition that develops in individuals who have experienced a near death experience, something shocking or scary. It is quite natural to feel scared during and after a traumatic event. However, it is your body who responds to the situation; it can either go into ‘flight or fight’ mode during the event. People may experience a river of emotions after the trauma, some may recover from the initial signs over a period of time. Those who continue to experience the signs after the traumatic event, they may be diagnosed with PTSD. It is a mental health issue which must be addressed effectively, and one must reach out to a professional or take help from the support group and classes.

What is Emotional Abuse?

Abuse is when someone tries to control somebody regardless of the relationship. Abuse can be of different forms such as: emotional, sexual, domestic, etc. Abuse can happen in a lot of ways such as physical, emotional pain and mental stress. Abuse can be done financially as well–like not paying your partner or your child for the basic necessities of life.

Emotional abuse impacts on mental health. PTSD from emotionally abusive relationships is also common. It is when the abuser uses ways to manipulate, criticize or threaten to control another person. There may not be physical signs such as bruises or marks, but emotional abuse is just as harmful as any other type of abuse.

Example of Emotional Abuse:

Emotional abuse often occurs in a relationship. It is typically followed by a pattern of aggression. Following is an emotional abuse checklist.

  • Insulting behavior
  • Constant Blaming
  • Belittling
  • Jealous Behavior
  • Doubting Behavior
  • Unpredictability
  • Impulsivity

Emotional abuse is not gendering bias, it can be done by both men and women. However, the effects of emotional abuse on a woman are much more lasting as compared to men.

Emotional Abuse and PTSD:

Abuse be it emotional, physical, financial, or domestic; it can have a severe negative impact on mental health. PTSD is one of the mental health conditions which is caused by prolonged emotional abuse. PTSD is the result of an emotional trauma such as emotional abuse in childhood, or abuse in a romantic relationship. It is not necessary that a traumatic event is long-term; it can also happen after a single instance such as a car accident or in the condition of war.  PTSD from emotional abuse may cause chemical disturbances in the body which can lead to multiple medical issues. Emotional abuse leaves different kinds of impact on the abused. Below are some of the common impacts of emotional abuse.

Mental Impact:

Emotional abuse is as serious as physical abuse and it can have long-term effects on mental health. Usually, prolonged emotional abuse can lead to the abused developing low-self-esteem; as it shatters the confidence of the individual. Moreover, it can also cause someone to question their own worth and decision-making skills. Individuals who develop PTSD after emotional abuse also develop anxiety and depression. They become emotionally withdrawn and they are unable to cope with their emotions. At times, they isolate themselves as they like to be alone with their experiences.

Physical Impact:

When a person is emotionally abused it shuts down their mental ability to think straight. In turn, it damages physical health as well. If the abused is in a constant state of stress it can damage the functions of the body. According to the studies emotionally abused individuals are at a higher risk for heart diseases, diabetes, lung disease, blood pressure and cardiac issues.

Social Impact:

Individuals, especially children who experience emotional abuse have a high risk of developing anxiety which in turn disturbs their social life. They feel that they are not good enough for anyone. Such feelings lead to shame, and guilt. Usually, children suffering from emotional abuse when they grow up have confidence issues, and feel that they are not worthy of affection. They also find it difficult to make friends at school, and later in life they are unable to have a healthy relationship.

How Emotional Abuse Leads to PTSD?

Well, PTSD is a mental health condition, and the person suffering from PTSD feels that they are unable to escape from the traumatic situation or they have no control over what is happening to them. At times, when the traumatic incident is over; an individual develops PTSD as they blame themselves for the event that has occurred. Even after it ends, they often feel trapped in the same situation and feel that there is no end to their suffering.

It is not necessary that everyone who goes through a traumatic event will develop PTSD. Trauma has long-term effects on the brain and it makes it more complex to treat. Trauma affects the brain directly that regulates cortisol and norepinephrine which in turn regulate the stress responses in the body. Moreover, PTSD causes disturbance in other body chemicals as well which leads to medical conditions such as: Hypersensitivity, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, insomnia, startle responses, etc.

PTSD from Emotional Abuse Symptoms:

PTSD from emotional abuse shares a lot of similarities with C-PTSD. If a person is suffering from PTSD, they may re-experience their trauma through flashbacks or nightmares. It feels like the trauma is haunting them, and they feel trapped in the situation again. Such individuals also avoid going to places that remind them of their trauma. It is quite common for such an individual to develop anxiety and they can be reactive and they also become easily tense and feel attacked even in normal situations.

Someone with PTSD may feel extremely emotional at times. They may also feel guilty or ashamed by themselves. Moreover, they may have distorted feelings related to the trauma. Living with a person with PTSD is hard, and their emotions can also prevent the family members from experiencing joy in the moment, because they are preoccupied with their thoughts of the traumatic experiences. Individuals with PTSD are unable to express their emotions, and they at times overreact inappropriately to situations. They also have low self-esteem or poor image of themselves due to guilt associated with their trauma.

For example: Soldiers (not all) experience PTSD after retirement. A combat veteran that has served multiple tours in a war zone over the course of his military career; someone who has witnessed the death of friends during life-threatening conditions. After retiring they may show symptoms of PTSD. They experience intrusive memories, nightmares, anxiety etc.

How to Deal with PTSD from Emotional Abuse:

PTSD from emotional abuse is a mental health issue, and there are treatments available that can help provide relief. There are therapies that help people and guide them towards healthier coping mechanisms. Let’s explore some of the common treatments available for PTSD from emotional abuse.

Psychotherapy:

Psychotherapy is one of the most common treatments for PTSD. Trauma focused therapy is a specific type of therapy especially designed for individuals suffering from PTSD. This therapy works towards understanding the effects of trauma on mental, physical and emotional health. It also helps in identifying the connection between someone’s emotional trauma and their behavior. A mental health professional can definitely help the individual to better understand the signs and cope with their trauma.

EDMR:

Eye movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EDMR) helps patients process the memories. It helps in coming back to the thought process and feelings related to the trauma. EMDR helps in reducing the symptoms of PTSD. However, the patient needs to be in a sane condition to understand the process. It works by the individual paying attention to the movement and sound while remembering the trauma. The memory shifts allows the patients to remember the incident without feeling afraid.

Medication:

Medicine helps to cure PTSD symptoms. Pills with talking therapy have been really good in fixing PTSD overall. For PTSD symptoms, there are four drugs that work really well. SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) are both medicines for depression given to lessen PTSD signs. The four SSRIs/SNRIs recommended for PTSD are:

  • Zoloft
  • Paxil
  • Prozac
  • Effexor

Recap:

PTSD is a mental health problem that changes how you think, remember things and feel emotions. It can make you constantly scared and ready, which makes your body create a lot of stress hormones.

When you are emotionally abused, it can harm your body and mind. It also makes it hard for you to maintain a relationship even after the trauma has occurred or if you’re out of an abusive relationship. If you have PTSD, a mental health expert along with the right medicine can help deal with your trauma and control symptoms.

Lisa Clontz

Author Lisa Clontz

Lisa Clontz is an experienced Executive Director at Shelter Home of Caldwell County, specializing in providing shelter and support services to victims of domestic violence, child support, rape, and sexual assault. With her years of expertise, Lisa passionately assists women and children, helping them access the necessary resources and care they need. Her unwavering commitment to creating a safe environment and empowering survivors has made her an invaluable advocate in the community.

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