How can someone get PTSD From Emotional Abuse?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is commonly associated with physical sources of trauma, such as war, physical assault, or sexual assault. But mental health experts have come to realize that people can get PTSD from emotional abuse as well. However, this type of trauma falls under a distinct type of PTSD known as complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD). Professional treatment can help work on the causes and symptoms of C-PTSD and provide solutions for achieving a healthier, happier life.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that comes with difficult symptoms that interfere with everyday life. Some of these symptoms involve remembering or avoiding trauma associated with the cause of the person’s PTSD. This disorder comes with other symptoms as well, such as anxiety, nervousness, and negative thoughts.
It is common knowledge that physical trauma can cause PTSD. This could be the result of experiences such as war, physical assault, or sexual assault. It’s also possible for a natural disaster or other traumatic experiences to cause PTSD.
Yet, physical trauma is not the only cause of this disorder. PTSD can also develop due to emotional abuse and other emotion-based experiences. Professional treatment can help PTSD caused by any type of trauma. Emotional abuse involves one person emotionally manipulating another. It can include words and actions aimed to insult, control, frighten, or isolate.
Examples of emotional abuse include:
- Taking away your freedom and privacy
- Separating you from loved ones, work, and activities
- Expecting to know your whereabouts and activities at all times
- Frightening you with anger
- Threatening you and those you love
- Humiliating and belittling you
Emotional abuse can be a form of psychological trauma that can have a similar impact on the nervous system as physical trauma.
PTSD From Emotional Abuse: Short-term effects of emotional abuse
You might be in denial at first. It can be shocking to find yourself in such a situation. It’s natural to hope you’re wrong. You may also have feelings of:
This emotional toll can also result in behavioral and physical side effects. You may experience:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Racing heartbeat
- Various aches and pains
PTSD From Emotional Abuse: Long-term effects of emotional abuse
Studies show that severe emotional abuse can be as powerful as physical abuse. Over time, both can contribute to low self-esteem and depression. You may also develop:
- Chronic pain
- Social withdrawal or loneliness
Some researchers theorize that emotional abuse may contribute to the development of conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
PTSD From Emotional Abuse: Types of PTSD
PTSD from emotional abuse can be considered complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD). This is not an official diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), but many health professionals have distinguished C-PTSD from PTSD. It is included in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) as its condition.
PTSD tends to refer to a response to one-time or short-term trauma, such as rape or terrorist attack. On the other hand, C-PTSD happens because of ongoing trauma without the ability to leave the situation. This category includes emotional abuse, as well as other ongoing trauma such as being a prisoner of war, experiencing human trafficking or prostitution, or facing repeated violence.
Someone with C-PTSD may have the same symptoms as someone with PTSD, such as reliving the trauma, avoiding trauma, and experiencing hyperarousal. Nonetheless, complex PTSD may cause its symptoms, such as a negative self-perception and inaccurate views of the perpetrator.
PTSD From Emotional Abuse: The Emotional Component of PTSD
PTSD from emotional abuse is not distinguished as C-PTSD because of its emotional rather than physical nature. All PTSD, even from physical forms of trauma, is based on emotional and psychological reactions to trauma, which develop because of fear and distress.
Also, regular PTSD can happen because of any event the person finds disturbing or distressing, even when the person witnesses it or hears about it rather than experiencing it first-hand. PTSD can come from emotional responses to experiences such as:
- Hearing about a terrorist attack
- Going through a hurricane without experiencing any physical harm
- The sudden death of a loved one
- Witnessing a murder
The distinction between PTSD and C-PTSD is not because of a difference between physical and emotional trauma. The difference has to do with the ongoing nature of the trauma involved in C-PTSD.
PTSD From Emotional Abuse: PTSD and Addiction
People seeking treatment for PTSD are 14 times more likely to also be diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder (SUD). Attempting to self-medicate can be a cause of why many people with PTSD also abuse substances. The thought is that by abusing substances, a person with PTSD will null or avoid PTSD symptoms. Those suffering from PTSD and Addiction are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs, such as cocaine.
The research ‘PTSD and Substance Abuse in Veterans’, published by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, has found that service members and veterans that have heavy drinking tendencies are more likely to have PTSD and depression. War veterans with a PTSD diagnosis, who also drink alcohol, tend to be diagnosed with binge drinking.
Reclaim your life from PTSD From Emotional Abuse
PTSD From Emotional Abuse is considered a complex post-traumatic stress disorder and it should not be taken lightly. We Level Up California can provide you, or someone you love, treatment for PTSD. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.