The Link Between Verbal Abuse and Anxiety That No One Talks about

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verbal abuse anxiety

Anxiety can be the result of many abusive behaviors and traumatic experiences. Verbal abuse can also play a huge role in this illness.

Sticks and stones may break your bones and words….they can hurt you too. Verbal abuse is demeaning, disrespectful and just plain wrong. Have you ever had someone in your face yelling at you because they’re upset, or have you been called names before? I have, and unfortunately, I have called people names myself. We often look over this form of abuse and think it’s okay, but it’s not okay at all.

Verbal abuse – the worst kind

Whether it’s bullying, cyber bullying or domestic abuse, verbal onslaughts can be worse than any other form of abuse. The reason this is true is that it affects the connection between the right and left hemisphere of the brain. Considering our brain develops over time, for many years, the developmental process is affected by this violent verbiage.

Just as with sexual or physical abuse, we are changed dramatically as children, then as adults, we look at the world in a completely different way than those who were not abused. Many of us suffer from anxiety as a result of verbal abuse.

Observations show the truth

While observing, through a brain scan, young adults between 18-25, scientists were able to tell the difference between those who suffered from anxiety and depression as opposed to those who did not. Those who did suffer from anxiety and depression were also former victims of verbal abuse.

It turns out that these same individuals which experienced verbal abuse, went through this trauma during middle school years, a time when the brain is developing at its highest rate.

Verbal abuse/emotional abuse

Both verbal and emotional abuse are similar. In fact, when someone is verbally abused, it affects them emotionally. Particular words even used passively, can cause severe damage to the self-esteem and emotions. This can act as a domino effect, causing disruptions in the victims work, relationships and home life, even years later.

At some point, anxiety will kick in, which will then become a rather uncontrollable response to otherwise normal changes in life. You can see the connection between these things and even imagine the permanent and detrimental damage that can and will be done to the brain and its structures.

Now, let me be frank with you

There are many symptoms associated with verbal abuse. There are immediate consequences as well as long-term effects. Here are a few examples of the damage that can be done just by speaking harshly. All these things can be directed linked to anxiety disorders, by the way. This is going to make you think about what you say beforehand, trust me.

Short-term effects:

  • Trouble communicating
  • Overanalyzing situations
  • Low self-esteem and no enthusiasm for life
  • Impaired decision making

Long-term effects:

  • Migraines
  • Chronic pain
  • Digestive disorders
  • Anxiety (there it is, folks)
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Eating disorders
  • Suicide

Now you can see what your harsh words and name calling can do to someone you love. Maybe it doesn’t cause this much damage in the first, second or third incidence, but over time, great harm can be done. Basically, people learn to frame their life around what others think and say about them, if they have yet to discover their own healthy self-esteem.

Anxiety surely can come from verbal abuse, and if you are enduring such abuse, you need to put a stop to it. Want to know how to recognize verbal abuse? Let me help you change your life, check out the list of indicators below.

Name calling

Verbal abusers use name calling as a way to shock you into doing what they think is right. It’s basically about instilling fear. Calling you names is normal to them, and damaging to you.

Behind closed doors

Most often, the verbal abuse will happen behind closed doors. This is because the abuser knows that others will recognize the abuse, while the victim, alone, will be easier to manipulate.

Surprise abuse

Many times the verbal abuse will occur when you are starting to gain a little enthusiasm. If you seem happy, notice how the abuser will swoop in and start criticizing you. I believe, personally, that the abuser is afraid of losing control when you’re happy. I will even surmise to say that if they aren’t the source of your happiness, they become petrified and use abuse to gain control again.

Attacks the victim’s interests

The abuser will attack the things that the victim loves to do. If you are able to function enough to enjoy something on your own, the abuser will degrade what you do. Notice how your abuser never likes the things that you are interested in. It’s a clue.

No apologies

Unlike most other disagreements or fights where both parties apologize, the abuser will never admit to any wrongs. When he is proved wrong and there’s really no way for him to deny that fact, he will respond with, “Just drop it” “Just forget about it” and “It’s over”. This shows that he cannot win but he will not lose control.


The victim of a verbal abuser will always feel isolated from other people, namely family, and friends. The abuser feels that once you’re isolated, they have full control to make you into whatever they want.

Of course, a little personal input

Since I started blog work for this page, I have over turned many rocks which covered the damage done to me in the past. I have discovered so many things which have played a role in my life and that molded who I am today. Unfortunately, many of the things that I overlooked were actually abusive and destructive. These were both things that I had done and things that were imposed upon me as well.

Verbal abuse was one of those things, and I believe whole heartedly that a good portion of my anxious behaviors derived from the hateful words and manipulative actions of my abusers. I know now that it wasn’t normal to be called names, degraded and humiliated in front of other people.

I no longer have the victim mentality that I once buried myself in, and I hope my work can help you too.

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Sherrie is a freelance writer and artist with over 10 years of experience. She spends most of her time giving life to the renegade thoughts. As the words erupt and form new life, she knows that she is yet again free from the nagging persistence of her muse. She is a mother of three and a lifetime fan of the thought-provoking and questionable aspects of the universe.

Copyright © 2018 Learning Mind. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.


  1. Stephen Perry August 10, 2017 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    Being screamed at and berated from birth to move out for every single thing I ever did set me back 20 years. I’m forty and just realizing I’m a person worthy of good things and hapiness.

    • Vero Hunter August 10, 2017 at 3:59 pm - Reply

      Yes you are, don’t let aholes ruin your life, cut off all ties from toxic people!

    • Helena Romih August 10, 2017 at 8:04 pm - Reply

      You are wonderful just like we all are ☺️

      • Sherrie August 14, 2017 at 6:31 pm - Reply

        I agree!

    • Sherrie August 14, 2017 at 6:26 pm - Reply

      Yes, Stephen, you are worthy of whatever you desire.

  2. Vero Hunter August 10, 2017 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    No wonder i have stressful anxiety just thinking about my mother in law, pure f*n torture! Cutting off all ties is the best!

    • Sherrie August 14, 2017 at 6:28 pm - Reply


      Verbal abuse can be a monster. The best thing you can do for revenge is grow stronger.

  3. Minhthi Xuan Nguyen August 10, 2017 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    How harmful words are.

    • Sherrie August 14, 2017 at 6:29 pm - Reply


      Yes, I agree. Word can create or they can destroy.

  4. jake August 10, 2017 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    very much unfortunately my abuser was my father
    i’m sure . he destroyed my bigger brother now he blames him because he can’t be independent
    i became independent and learned many stuffs he doesn’t know . now he still trying to control on me
    the only reason i’m still living with him is my dear mother. unfortunately my mother is very submissive

    • Sherrie August 14, 2017 at 6:31 pm - Reply


      My mother was also submissive. She would cook and if she forgot something, my father would refuse to eat at all. This would upset her so badly because she knew he would then blame her for not eating. It was a powerful manipulation. He was also verbally abusive, yelling at her, and at me. My heart goes out to your family, Jake. I hope everyone can find peace in the turmoil.

  5. Wendy Thompson August 10, 2017 at 9:51 pm - Reply

    So true.. the awareness of domestic and family violence campaigns should be focusing on Verbal Abuse of Adults and Children as much as Physical Violence.. Just because you don’t see it on the Outside does not mean it is not there. Verbal Abuse leaves lifelong scars too.

    • Sherrie August 14, 2017 at 6:33 pm - Reply

      Yes, ma’am, it does. As I have said before, I am learning all the little reasons why I react to things in my relationships. I have triggers and temper tantrums and always thought these things were normal. As I learn more and more about abuse and trauma, I understand where my less-than-savory aspects of my own personality come from. Verbal abuse from my past is probably why I yell sometimes now. It takes practice to stop that too and not let the abuse pass down to my children. Thank you for reading, Wendy.

  6. Leslie August 31, 2017 at 1:12 am - Reply

    I just left my teaching job because I’ve been verbally abused by my principal and vp for 4 years now. It happens frequently and I’m alone behind closed doors. They tell me I’m hates by all, even my family. They hate my face and everything about me . Every time I get anxious and start crying, and I can’t breathe. I’m taking disability leave because I have serious PTSD. It’s so bad I can” t even think about school without shaking and gasping for air.

    • Sherrie September 19, 2017 at 6:36 am - Reply


      What you are going through is a form of bullying, and here we thought we had gotten rid of bullying. This makes me angry and I send love to you. I hope you can find support for what you are going through and are able to reveal these negative things about the ones who are persecuting you. Be strong! You know in your heart what kind of person you are.

  7. Sakib September 4, 2017 at 11:55 pm - Reply

    Sherrie I can’t believe anyone would be horrible to you when you seem like such a nice person. I wish I could give you a hug.

    • Sherrie September 5, 2017 at 12:02 am - Reply

      I am just an ordinary person, and it doesn’t matter how nice you are. There will always be someone who will want to be abusive and manipulate nice people.

      • Sakib September 5, 2017 at 12:28 am - Reply

        Well its all yin yang, the light can’t exist without the dark, unity of opposites etc. I’ve noticed that difficult people make you stronger and you have to experience unpleasant stuff that makes you grow. Just like medicine tastes awful but apparently benefits you in some way. Keep travelling and you meet so many nice people, they are out there!

    • Julian October 9, 2017 at 6:35 pm - Reply

      The nicer you are, the gentler you are, the stronger you are, the bigger the take-down and the bigger the prize.

  8. Sharren October 10, 2017 at 7:30 am - Reply

    I was abused By My Sperm donor(AKA Father) He abused Me verbally for Years. I was called a Slut at 5 years old. It got worse over the years. A friend of his also started to sexually abuse me at 5 then at 8. Then had My Sperm donor sexually abuse Me when I was 12 years old. I hate him for what He has done to Me, and I can no longer have it out with Him, because the Mongrel up and died from Lung Cancer 2 years ago. I hope He suffered So badly. Trying to get on with My Life, have an Amazing Husband of 24 years after constantly falling for Narcs. Thanks for the insight Sherrie, it is welcome Knowledge that I am not just losing My Mind, but I am suffering from Long buried trauma’s. xoxo

  9. Julie November 8, 2017 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    Do you think this can create in a person the need to go to great lengths to avoid conflict or confrontation?

    • HeWhoShallNotBeNamed December 7, 2017 at 3:15 am - Reply

      I think so!

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