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November 9, 2015

L. Carr,  Columnist

Nobody likes being berated, bullied or otherwise put down
by someone else. The feelings of powerlessness, anger,
sadness and even embarrassment can ruin your day. But
did you know that being berated can also have a serious
effect on your health?

Being berated by your boss, your significant other or even
trolls on Facebook or Twitter can actually raise your risk
for heart disease, depression, and anxiety – and the
effects can last your whole life.

Why is Being Berated Bad for your Health?

Being berated, whether it is by strangers or someone you
love, can negatively affect your mood and your self-
esteem. But the action also has an effect on your physical
health – and this is mainly due to stress.

Stress is a natural, automatic response developed by our
ancient relatives to protect against a predator or other
threat. When you’re in danger your body is flooded with
hormones that help you deal with this threat.

The fact that when you are being berated the danger is
not actually “real” --- the person is not going to physically
harm you --- doesn’t matter. The brain and the body put
the same fight-or-flight plan into action regardless.

Studies show that hostile relations with your spouse can
immediately  affect the mechanism of stress-sensitive
hormones, according to Kiecolt-Glaser, J. & Glaser, R.
Being criticized, berated or scolded creates stress, and
stress can have a big impact on your health.

Physical Consequences of the Stress of Being Berated

Studies show that emotional stresses — particularly anger
— can cause heart attacks, heart arrhythmias and even
sudden death, according to the American Psychological

Chronic stress caused by being criticized or bullied long-
term by a boss, a husband, a wife, or a friend, can cause
fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, skin problems,
irritability, depression, insomnia, and headaches.

We looked more closely at the consequences of being
berated by a friend, colleague, spouse or stranger, and the
effects this has on your health:

Being Berated Raises Levels of Inflammation for your
Entire Life

Being berated or bullied raises levels of inflammation for
your entire life, a study has found.  According to a 2014
report from Duke University Medical Center, childhood
bullying results in low-grade systemic inflammation into

The problem with this? Systemic inflammation increases
the risk of chronic disease like
heart disease and diabetes.

Researchers looked at data from the Great Smoky
Mountains Study and measured levels of C - reactive
protein during adulthood. The results suggest that if you
are berated or bullied in childhood this affects your
physical health way into adulthood.

Being Berated Brings Psychiatric Problems Late into
Adult Life

Being berated in childhood or adolescence also causes
mental health problems later into adult life, according to a
2013 study by Duke University Medical Center.

Researchers looked at over 1400 participants who had
been bullied or were a bully. People who had been bullied
had higher rates of adult psychiatric disorders including
agoraphobia, generalized anxiety, panic disorder – and the
results were worst for those people who had been both
victim and bully.

Bullying or Being Bullied Increases the Likelihood of

It’s not just the people who are being berated or bullied
that are at risk of mental health problems.

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child
Health and Human Development (2010) says anyone
involved with the act of bullying or berating --- those who
bully, those who are bullied, and those who both bully and
are bullied—are at increased risk for depression.  This is
bad news for
all involved in the negative cycle of bullying.

Cyber Bully Victims are at Greater Risk of Depression

The National Institute of Child Health and Human
Development shows that children and teens that are
bullied electronically, by chat room, Facebook, Twitter, cell
phone etc., are at higher risk of depression than the
people who bully them and the people who are both
bullies and victims.

This is the only form of bullying, according to the experts,
where the effects are much greater only for victims.

If You’re Berated as a Child You Can Expect Poorer
Health and Lower Quality of Life as an Adult

The negative health and physiological effects of childhood
bullying can be felt up to 40 years later, according to a
2014 study by King's College London in the UK.

The researchers found that those people who had been
bullied when they were young were more likely, at age 50,
to be in poorer physical health and have worse cognitive
functioning than people who had not been bullied. They
were even found to earn less and be more likely to be

Being Berated Hurts Your Health, but Exercise Can Help

Exercise has recently been found to be protective against
the negative health effects of bullying, studies show.

The more students exercised, the less likely they were to
suffer from sadness, depression, or feel suicidal even if
they were the victims of bullying, according to a study
from the University of Vermont, Burlington.

Being physically active for four or more days in the week
can reduce depression risk by 23 percent, the experts say.

Bullying and Being Berated Results in Night Terrors

A 2014 study from the University of Warwick in the UK
demonstrates that children who are bullied between the
ages of 8 and 10 are more likely to experience night
terrors, nightmares, and sleepwalking at the age of 12.

Night terrors may even persist into adolescence and even
adulthood, researchers believe.

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Being berated can raise your risk for
heart disease and diabetes.
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