Bullying—It Can Happen at Work Too
When you hear about bullying, you probably think about kids or teens getting teased or tormented at school. But did you know that bullying can also occur between adults in the office? And it’s more prevalent than you might think.
According to a survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 27% of employees say they’ve been bullied in the workplace, and 21% say they’ve witnessed bullying. The main culprits? Bosses are the most common workplace bullies. What’s really surprising is that 72% of employees get in on the act by denying it happened, downplaying it, rationalizing the behavioral problems, or even encouraging the perpetrator.
Is someone willfully sabotaging your performance, giving you unwanted and undeserved harsh criticism, spreading rumors about you, humiliating you in front of coworkers, or intentionally excluding you from work activities? You could be the victim of bullying.
Workplace bullying can take a toll. People who have been targeted by a bully in the workplace are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, according to a 2019 study in European Heart Journal. with people complaining of headaches, nausea, insomnia, and burnout. Being targeted at work can also lead to anxiety and depression.
When Bullying Leads to Anxiety Disorders
People who are victimized at the office can experience a variety of anxiety disorders that remain long after the intimidation has stopped. The main forms of anxiety that affect victims include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): If you’re filled with worry, anxious thoughts, and fears that interfere with your daily life and your ability to do your job, you may have GAD. You may go to work in the morning with the expectation that something bad is going to happen, or you might have bullying scenarios looping in your head. You may also be plagued by physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomachaches.
- Panic attacks: For some people, being targeted can make you vulnerable to panic attacks. With this condition, you may suddenly feel a sense of terror and be overcome by physical symptoms, including a racing heart, sweating, and a heaviness in your chest that won’t go away. Since you may associate your office or work environment with the bullying you experienced, you may experience panic attacks at the office or even just thinking about going there.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): For most people, once a traumatic event has passed, they are able to overcome negative feelings and move on with their lives. For others, however, the effects of bullying linger and develop into PTSD, which is characterized by flashbacks, being easily startled, and being hyper-vigilant. Avoiding the people and places associated with a traumatic event is common in PTSD sufferers, so you may find yourself wanting to avoid going to work.
- Social anxiety disorder: Being exposed to bullying that involves public humiliation, being blamed for business failures that weren’t your fault, or other negative verbal assaults may lead to an intense fear of being judged negatively or being rejected in a social or performance setting (like giving a presentation at work), which are common signs of a social anxiety disorder. This causes people with this condition to experience extreme anxiety and distress in social settings or to attempt to avoid them altogether.
Unfortunately, exhibiting anxious behavior makes victims more vulnerable to continued abuse, which compounds the problem, according to a 2015 study in Anxiety, Stress, and Coping: An International Journal.
When Bullying Makes You Depressed
Depression is another unwanted outcome of bullying at work. People who have been subjected to intimidating or aggressive behavior at work are more than twice as likely as their peers to develop the condition. Among those who have experienced frequent bullying? They’re 10 times more likely to become clinically depressed, according to a 2014 study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Depression—which can drain your energy, make it hard for you to concentrate, and make you feel irritable and cranky—can prevent you from performing at your best on the job. This creates a downward spiral that can negatively impact your career and your life.
When to Seek Help
Every company has its own policies regarding bullying in the workplace. You may want to speak with someone in your HR department to discuss how to put an end to the behavior. But if your feelings of anxiety or depression are getting in the way of your daily life, or if the aggressive behavior has ended and you’re still reeling from its effects, it’s time to seek help.
At Amen Clinics, we have helped thousands of people learn to overcome feelings of anxiety and depression. The Amen Clinics Method takes an integrative approach to diagnosis and treatment that includes brain SPECT imaging as well as looking at the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of your life to identify areas that can be optimized.
If you want to stop suffering and start feeling better, call 888-288-9834 to talk to a specialist today or schedule a visit.