Alan Eisenberg of Bullying Stories recently published three must-read posts (here, here and here) about the connection between childhood bullying and the development of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Elizabeth Bennett of Adult Survivors of Bullying/Peer Abuse also wrote about the life-long effects that childhood bullying can have on individuals. And although children are particularly susceptible to bullying, we know that adults are vulnerable as well.
Cyberbullying, workplace bullying and similar forms of mistreatment can lead to PTSD (associated with single- or short-term traumatic events) or Complex PTSD (C-PTSD), defined as “a psychological injury that results from protracted exposure to prolonged social and/or interpersonal trauma with lack or loss of control, disempowerment, and in the context of either captivity or entrapment, i.e. the lack of a viable escape route for the victim.”
Symptoms of Complex PTSD can include:
- Alterations in emotional regulation. May include persistent sadness, suicidal thoughts, explosive anger, or inhibited anger.
- Alterations in consciousness. Includes forgetting traumatic events, reliving traumatic events, or having episodes in which one feels detached from one’s mental processes or body.
- Changes in self-perception. May include helplessness, shame, guilt, stigma, and a sense of being completely different from other human beings.
- Alterations in how the perpetrator is perceived. Examples include attributing total power to the perpetrator, becoming preoccupied with the relationship to the perpetrator, or preoccupied with revenge.
- Alterations in relations with others. Examples include isolation, distrust, or a repeated search for a rescuer.
- Changes in one’s system of meanings. May include a loss of sustaining faith or a sense of hopelessness and despair.
PTSD and Complex PTSD are extremely painful. If you believe you may be suffering from PTSD or Complex PTSD, please seek immediate help from a medical professional experienced in diagnosing and treating individuals with these disorders. If affirmatively diagnosed, you will likely receive a combination of prescription medication and cognitive therapy as part of the path to recovery.
Although not a substitute for medical treatment, you can also get information from PTSD Coach, an app created by the United States Veterans Administration’s National Center for PTSD and the Department of Defense’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology.