How Does Abuse Affect Mental Health?

The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article is Cutler Dozier, LGSW, Outpatient Therapist  Abuse can happen at any point in life – as a child or an adult. There are several types of abuse including physical, sexual, emotional, verbal/mental, and financial abuse. Abuse can occur in any relationship, including relationships with family members, partners, or friends.   For a list of resources, please visit the abuse specialty page.

Abuse & Mental Health 

Abuse can take on many forms, whether it's a part of your past or current reality. Cutler Dozier, an Outpatient Therapist at Nystrom & Associates, discusses its impact.  
Abuse, whether emotional or physical, can adversely impact how we experience the world, ourselves, and those around us. Abuse can evoke evolutionary responses such as fight, flight, or freeze designed to protect us when we experience threats to ourselves or others. Unfortunately, these same responses can carry forward into our lives resulting in disengagement, disconnection, irritability, nervousness, and ineffective behaviors that take us away from the kind of life we want to live.
When trauma occurs, it sends a message to the brain that you are not safe. As a result, you might turn to unhealthy coping strategies as a way of trying to remain in control and an attempt to keep you safe.   Related: How Mental Health Affects Physical Health 

Short-Term Effects

The effects of abuse can manifest in many ways. Some feelings that may arise include hopelessness, fear, shame, anger, and confusion.   Related: Anger Management & Mental Health  Behavior and physical side effects can also occur. For instance:  
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Aches and pains 
  • Rapid heartbeat 
  • Tense muscles 

Long-Term Effects 

In addition to provoking changes in mood and behavior, there are mental health conditions that can arise from abuse. While it can be challenging to tell how much a person is impacted by past abuse or trauma, it’s crucial to reach out for help if you’re struggling with any of the effects below.   These include: Related: 5 Ways to Prevent Substance Abuse 

How Therapy Helps 

Not only is therapy a safe place to talk about your experience, but it can also help you recover. “Therapy, particularly mindfulness interventions, can help to rewire and connect the different parts of our brain to help us regain control over our lives.”  In therapy, you can learn to develop positive coping strategies that will assist you to take charge of your life and relationships.   Related: 8 Mindfulness Practices to Reduce Stress 

A Word From Nystrom & Associates 

Left untreated, the effects of abuse can take a huge toll on your life. However, with the right treatment, your life can turn around. Nystrom & Associates provides a safe environment to help you heal and move forward. Call 1-844-NYSTROM or request an appointment online today.  

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