Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the US, affecting 18.1% (40 million) of all adults annually.
There are various anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and they are known to be caused by brain chemistry, traumatic events, anxiety-causing foods, personality disorders, and more.
Yet, there is one potential cause of anxiety that is rarely discussed- narcissistic abuse.
It refers to the mental and physical harm inflicted by severely self-centered people. These individuals think highly of themselves and desire admiration from others, while not caring about others.
They appear charming at first, but later on, they become manipulative and demanding. They make people in their company feel anxious, unworthy to love, neglected, and guilt-tripped.
Studies have found a link between abuse in adulthood and many physical and mental health issues, as well as anxiety. Yet, scientists have recently discovered that narcissistic abuse from childhood could contribute to the formation and exacerbation of anxiety disorders, as it negatively affects physical and mental health.
Children tend to internalize and externalize their hurt feelings after being exposed to bullying behavior and systematic abuse of power, like verbal abuse, threats from narcissistic parents or traumatic physical abuse. These kids become depressed and anxious with low self-esteem, and prone to PTSD.
On the other hand, they might also become aggressive, might act out, develop delinquent behavior, and become susceptible to substance abuse, both in their youth and later in life.
Just being in the company of a person with narcissistic character traits is unhealthy, let alone starting or staying in a relationship with them.
Residing where any kind of emotional or mental abuse takes place is affecting health, and when someone is constantly told that he is the problem and his rational and completely normal ways of responding to the abuse are contributing to the issue, the mind normally goes into overdrive.
Consequently, the body reacts in various ways and displays numerous symptoms, while the distinction between the rational and the irrational becomes blurred.
Yet, when the narcissist is a family member, things get even worse, as the escape is only possible if the victim moves out. Yet, in most cases, they develop mental disorders later in life and the trauma may still be hampering their adult relationships today.
Abusers are actually toxic people who willfully abuse others by telling them that they are somehow socially, emotionally, and intellectually substandard.
In extreme cases, they are so skillful manipulators, that they manage to make it seem as though the victim is the actual abuser. Whenever abusers are caught or confronted about their behavior, they will always resort to playing the victim.
Narcissists usually target compassionate and empathic people, ones who believe in the good nature of humankind. Since these people are the ones who are more likely to be the victim of narcissistic abuse, they also become the ones who are most susceptible to mental and physical health issues.
Yet, this type of abuse is difficult to spot, as a result of the emotional manipulation, denial, and self-victimization.
You might have experienced narcissistic abuse in case you have experienced the following from someone close to you:
- The abuser neglected you and did not reciprocate your friendship, love, or respect
- The abuser wanted to make you dependent on them, live vicariously through you and loved you only when you acted by their wishes
- If the abuser verbally or physically belittled or bullied you, and made you feel for their unhappiness
- If the abuser made you doubt yourself and feel incompetent
- In case the abuser took advantage of you for their gain and kept you isolated from friends or family
- The abuser constantly lied to you or cheated on you, or spread gossip and lies about you
- If the abused criticized you harshly and made love or friendship a conditional reward to control your behavior
In case you have experienced the above symptoms in childhood or are in a similar relationship now, you should do the following:
- Ignore the abuser or break the ties as soon as possible
- Keep a positive attitude, as the abuse was not your fault
- Seek professional help to prevent mental traumas, and if you are in immediate physical or emotional danger, contact the police, a medical professional, a helpline, or a local shelter for victims of abuse
Anxiety is highly treatable, mostly by a combination of psychotherapy and medication, but the following alternative treatment options are highly beneficial as well:
- Sleep at least 7 hours every night
- Try meditation, yoga, and mindfulness exercises
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet, rich in anxiety-reducing foods, and avoid sugary and processed foods
- Start exercising regularly, at least half an hour daily
- Spend quality time with friends and family
- Organize your time effectively and follow an efficient schedule
- Avoid alcohol and drugs
If you dedicate to dealing with anxious episodes in your life, recognize your problem, and decide to solve it, you will soon move on from the painful experiences and start living a happy and fulfilled life.