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Can Emotional Abuse Cause PTSD?

* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.

Mental health is often ignored, and we owe it to ourselves to get support so as we advance, there aren’t any issues that can affect our physical and emotional relationships with people. So Can Emotional Abuse Cause PTSD?

Can Emotional Abuse Cause PTSD?

It can be difficult sometimes to identify why we feel the way we do, so identifying the source of our symptoms that are causing instances of PTSD can be a good place to start.

In this article, we’ll outline how you can identify this type of abuse, but you can skip that section if you feel it may trigger any negative response.

If so, you can look at ways that can help you manage your recovery process so you can begin to live your life with a healthy mindset.

How To Define Emotional Abuse?

Some people might have experiences that they might not be able to link to their PTSD because they either don’t want to recall those traumatic experiences or haven’t fully processed the abusive aspects of their experiences.

Below are some examples of what this abuse can look like, but be aware that there is abuse that can have a further reach over various aspects of your life.

  • Periods of yelling or using a raised voice toward you.
  • Name-calling or insults directed towards you that seek to ridicule and question your looks or behaviour.
  • Attempting to make you question your sanity or decision-making, which is known as gaslighting.
  • Someone trying to control aspects of your life, such as isolating you from family and friends, controlling your finances, and telling you where you can and can’t go. This can extend to making you feel bad for making certain decisions or how you choose to present yourself.
  • Making subtle or obvious threats that can lead to violence or any exchange that makes you feel afraid for your well-being.

How To Identify Your Symptoms?

How To Identify Your Symptoms?

At first, you might not associate any of your symptoms or feelings with PTSD as they can occur during and a long while after the abuse has taken place.

This might lead you to have feelings of confusion, shame, fear, and hopelessness and can cause side effects such as moodiness, nightmares, racing heartbeat, difficulty concentrating, and various aches and pains.

You might not be aware that emotional abuse can be as impactful as physical abuse as your thoughts can contribute to low self-esteem and depression.

In the long term, you may not be aware of other effects such as anxiety, chronic pain, guilt, insomnia, social withdrawal and loneliness.

This can lead to conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, and some of these issues can affect children who are victims of this kind of abuse as well. 

In regards to PTSD, you may experience worse symptoms, and your doctor typically diagnoses you with it if you experience high amounts of stress or fear for an extended period.

These symptoms can include angry outbursts, being easily startled, negative thoughts, insomnia, or flashbacks that cause symptoms such as a rapid heartbeat.

This disorder can interfere with your daily functioning, so you want to get treatment, so your symptoms don’t get any worse, and worst of all, having feelings of suicide, which is very impactful on friends and loved ones.

How To Begin Your Recovery?

It might take some time to realise your disorder, or you may want to help someone you know to begin the road to recovery.

The issue with this disorder is that there isn’t a single way that’s going to help everyone, and not everyone is at the point of beginning recovery.

Below are a few ways that you can use to begin your process, but you shouldn’t feel that you have to put a time limit on the process, so go easy on yourself.

  • Reach out for support- This can involve getting in touch with family or friends, or if you don’t have this option, you can join a support group, which you can find through a recommendation from a doctor or someone at your local community centre.
  • Get active- Getting active has been shown to help you sleep better, keep you sharp, and reduce your risk of depression for 90 minutes a week. You could join a class, or go running with friends, whatever works for you.
  • Give yourself a focus- This might not seem convenient for you right now, but giving your time to volunteer for a good cause could help to ease stress, anger, and depression. You want to ease into it gradually and not take on too much.
  • Seek professional help- If none of these work for you, that’s fine. You might find counselling more helpful for you, and you can generally get a referral from a doctor who can recommend a service. You can also ask questions about their experiences with dealing with emotional abuse so you know if they’re the right match for you.


What you should also remember is that this disorder is a fight or flight response that can take some time to diagnose and treat the issues associated with it completely and can cause some to dissociate from what is happening around them.

Emotional support from friends and loved ones can be very beneficial as they can be someone who you can talk to about anything, and you can rest assured knowing that they’re listening to you and are helping you to build relationships and trust with people.

It can sometimes feel that you’re never going to recover completely, but you shouldn’t feel guilty or bad for feeling the way you do.

Hopefully, this article has been helpful to you or someone that is experiencing this disorder, and there are services available that can help you manage your emotions.

This can be useful when days are especially difficult to navigate and can be a comforting voice for when you just want to talk to someone.

Emergency Numbers

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest organization fighting sexual violence: (800) 656-HOPE / (800) 810-7440 (TTY)

988 Mental Health Emergency Hotline: Calling 988 will connect you to a crisis counselor regardless of where you are in the United States.

911 Emergency

The National Runaway Safeline: 800-RUNAWAY (800-786-2929)

Self Abuse Finally Ends (S.A.F.E)

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Trauma & Child Abuse Resource Center

Domestic Violence Shelters & Resources

Futures Without Violence

National Center for Victims of Crime

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Prevent Child Abuse America

Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine: 1-800-950-NAMI, or text “HELPLINE” to 62640. Both services are available between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255); www.suicidepreventionlifeline.orgOr, just dial 988

Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support: www.suicide.org

Crisis Text Line: Text REASON to 741741 (free, confidential and 24/7). In English and Spanish

Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)

Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228

American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222

National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency: 1-800-622-2255

LGBTQ Hotline: 1-888-843-4564

National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262)

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 678678. Standard text messaging rates apply. Available 24/7/365. (Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning—LGBTQ—young people under 25.)

The SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline connects LGBT older people and caretakers with friendly responders. 1-877-360-LGBT (5428)

The Trans Lifeline is staffed by transgender people for transgender people:
1-877-565-8860 (United States)
1-877-330-6366 (Canada)

Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net

International Suicide Prevention Directory: findahelpline.com

The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a confidential and anonymous culturally appropriate domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans, available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT. Call 1-844-762-8483.

‘Find a Therapist’ Online Directories


UK & Republic of Ireland

  • Emergency: 112 or 999
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK – local rate)
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI – local rate)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)
  • YourLifeCounts.org: https://yourlifecounts.org/find-help/

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