Physical Complications of Verbal Abuse

November 25, 2021 Cheryl Wozny

Although victims of verbal abuse do not have bruises or other physical scars, the effects of verbal abuse are still genuine. While anxiety and depression can result from verbal abuse, they are not the only side effects.

Verbal Abuse's Physical Complications

In fact, many people, like myself, who suffer at the hands of an abuser will have physical problems that stem from continuous verbal abuse. Knowing how abuse can affect your physical wellbeing is just one of the ways to help you maintain a healthier life. 

Physical Symptoms of Verbal Abuse

You may wonder how verbal abuse can cause physical harm, but it is possible. Someone who regularly faces put-downs, insults, criticism, or degradation can develop physical ailments. These symptoms are the body's way of responding to circumstances that it cannot control.

Some physical problems, as noted in "Psychological Trauma and Physical Health: A Psychoneuroimmunology Approach to Etiology of Negative Health Effects and Possible Interventions" as Kathleen Kendall-Tackett explains, verbal abuse victims may have a higher increase of health problems, including:1 

  • Heart disease 
  • Cancer 
  • Stroke  
  • Diabetes 
  • Chronic bronchitis 
  • Emphysema 
  • Chronic pain
  • Obesity 
  • Chronic inflammation 

Even though verbal abuse victims do not carry bruises or visible wounds, their bodies may hurt just as much as their psyche does. 

One study from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment in the "Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services" found victims of trauma experience:2 

  • Disturbances in sleep patterns
  • Respiratory issues 
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Urological issues
  • Dermatological disorders 
  • Cardiovascular issues

How to Counteract Physical Symptoms 

For many individuals, physical symptoms appear because they have no way to resolve the negative feelings they have from verbal abuse. Much like those who keep anger bottled inside, anxiety, depression, or other emotional triggers that do not have an outlet for resolution and healing can manifest in physical signs. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing verbal abuse and dealing with one or many physical side effects, there are ways you can help minimize them. 

  • Talk to a professional for emotional support. Allowing yourself to work through your feelings from verbal abuse will allow your body to release the building anxiety. You may also find better tools and methods of dealing with your internal feelings, so your body does not have to.
  • Try to participate in some physical activity each day. You do not have to go to the gym for an hour or run a marathon. I've found that even taking a walk after dinner for 15 minutes can do wonders for my mind and body. 
  • Try to follow a healthy diet. Your body will function better at handling stress if you minimize junk foods or alcohol. I try to eat a well-balanced meal with snacks each day, and make sure I drink enough water. 

There Is Help 

Even if you have visited your family physician who cannot explain your physical ailments, there are ways you can get help. With the proper tools and methods, victims of verbal abuse can live a healthier life without dealing with physical or emotional side effects. Talk to a professional in your area or through a toll-free line from our resources page, and start taking care of your physical health by helping your emotional wellbeing.


  1. Kendall-Tackett, K., "Psychological Trauma and Physical Health: A Psychoneuroimmunology Approach to Etiology of Negative Health Effects and Possible Interventions." Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, Vol 1, No 1, 35–48, 2009.
  2. Rockville (MD), "Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services"Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 57, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (US), 2014

APA Reference
Wozny, C. (2021, November 25). Physical Complications of Verbal Abuse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 17 from

Author: Cheryl Wozny

Cheryl Wozny is a freelance writer and published author of several books, including mental health resources for children titled, Why Is My Mommy So Sad? and Why is My Daddy So Sick? Writing has become her way of healing and helping others. Find Cheryl on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and her blog

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