Like other forms of psychological abuse, gaslighting can affect you even after you've cut ties from the person responsible. In fact, there are even a few long-term effects of gaslighting, from anxiety and depression to increased feelings of self-doubt and even PTSD.
Gaslighting is a form of abuse that involves a person deliberately causing someone to doubt their sanity. This may cause feelings of confusion or powerlessness. The long-term effects of gaslighting include trauma, anxiety, and depression.
Gaslighting can lead to increased anxiety and depression, says Stern. “Gaslighting may not be the only factor leading to mental illness but the same factors that leave a person vulnerable to gaslighting may result in lower self-esteem, uncertainty about their own reality, anxiety, and ultimately depression,” she says.
The Impact of Gaslighting Abuse on Mental Health
Along with questioning their own reality and beliefs, gaslighting victims often feel isolated and powerless. Gaslighting abuse symptoms also include low self-esteem, disorientation, self-doubt, and difficulty functioning in school, at work, or in social situations.
Writing feelings down helps get them out of our head and helps us not overanalyze. You may be used to analyzing every move you made because it was impossible to tell what was setting the gaslighter off—and you were getting blamed for their behavior. By writing down what happened, you can start letting it go.
Gaslighters love to wield your love and affection for them as a weapon against you and will use this phrase to excuse a wide variety of bad behaviors, Stern says. But the bottom line is that you can love someone and be upset about something they did at the same time.
intrusive thoughts or images. nightmares. intense distress at real or symbolic reminders of the trauma. physical sensations such as pain, sweating, nausea or trembling.
Gaslighting is an intentional behaviour directed at diminishing someone's sense of reality or denying their experiences as a way of helping the gaslighter save face/protect self-esteem/maintain the relationship/keep another person in a relationship/win an argument, etc.
When you've experienced complex trauma, you may not trust yourself. A person who grows up with a foundation of secure attachment may realize the signs of gaslighting pretty quickly and leave. However, a trauma survivor may be more likely to perceive manipulation as familiar and therefore normal.
Convincing someone to question their reality gives a gaslighter a sense of power and superiority. Despite all this, gaslighting often isn't so obvious. Many gaslighters may not realize they're gaslighting, and many people who are being gaslighted also fail to recognize it at first.
Gaslighting increases the instability of relationships where one or both parties has BPD. The symptom of paranoia may cause those who dissociate to see others as gaslighting them. To avoid gaslighting, it is suggested that loved ones not challenge accusations based on BPD-related dissociative memory gaps.
Luckily, Kelley emphasizes that recovery from gaslighting is absolutely possible. “Practicing self-compassion and patience is essential, as the healing process can take time,” she notes. The tactics used by a gaslighter are meant to deconstruct the victim's sense of self, and it can take time to rebuild and repair.
Hyperarousal is a primary symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It occurs when a person's body suddenly kicks into high alert as a result of thinking about their trauma. Even though real danger may not be present, their body acts as if it is, causing lasting stress after a traumatic event.
The INSIDER Summary: People can toy with other people's memories and make them feel like they're going crazy. It's called gaslighting, and it's super manipulative. Look out for lies, isolation, projection, and having them say "you're crazy."
Gaslighting in intimate relationships is so damaging because it avoids the apology and taking responsibility. It negates the necessity for a healing process. By denying that something happened, the person who experienced it struggles to move on and is left wondering if s/he may really be the one who made the mistake.
The types of traumatic events that can cause complex PTSD include: childhood abuse, neglect or abandonment. ongoing domestic violence or abuse. repeatedly witnessing violence or abuse.
“Because gaslighting can cause such self-doubt and confusion, being able to step back and set boundaries, practice grounding techniques, talk with a trusted friend, and save evidence of interactions are all steps you can take to begin to address gaslighting and its impact.
People who are most susceptible to being victims of gaslighting more often exhibit characteristics of ADHD, anxiety or depression, said Sarkis. Gaslighting is present in about 30 to 40 percent of the couples she treats, where such disorders are more commonly represented.
As stated before, narcissists and gaslighters are ultimately insecure and thin-skinned. To counteract this lack of confidence, they will project false and exaggerated images of themselves. Many narcissists like to impress others by making themselves look good externally.
Suffering from severe fear, anxiety, or depression. Unable to form close, satisfying relationships. Experiencing terrifying memories, nightmares, or flashbacks. Avoiding more and more anything that reminds you of the trauma.
People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people.
The main symptoms and behaviours associated with PTSD and complex PTSD include: Reliving the experience through flashbacks, intrusive memories, or nightmares. Overwhelming emotions with the flashbacks, memories, or nightmares. Not being able to feel emotions or feeling “numb”