When you hear the word bully, you probably think of the big kid waiting in the school yard to steal your lunch money. However, bullies aren't left behind when you move into adulthood.
Not by a long shot.
According to a recent Harris Poll, conducted on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association, 31 percent of Americans say they have been bullied as an adult. Bullying is defined as repeated, negative behavior intended to harm or intimidate, and it frequently happens at work.
Dealing with challenging people in the workplace is a common occurrence but sometimes these interactions can be more than just unfriendly. Before you know it an interaction can turn demeaning, confrontational or even hostile. The stress caused by these encounters rarely stays at work either. It can spill over into your home life, affecting your family interactions, sleep and well-being. You may not realize it at the time, but if you've experienced such encounters regularly, then you are being bullied.
The negative health effects of bullying
Those who are bullied can suffer myriad negative physical and mental health effects. For example, the survey revealed respondents had suffered from one or more of the following:
* Stress (71 percent)
* Anxiety/depression (70 percent)
* Loss of confidence (55 percent)
* Sleep loss (39 percent)
* Headaches (26 percent)
* Muscle tension and pain (22 percent)
* A mental breakdown (19 percent)
* An inability to function on a day-to-day basis (17 percent)
The many faces of the problem
Identifying bullying behavior is the first step toward correcting the problem. However, bullying is not always as easy to spot as you might think. The abuse can take the form of “the silent treatment” in which a group or an individual willfully ignores or disregards another person. Victims may also be targeted by lies or rumors that harm their reputation.
Bullying can even take on a more subtle form of manipulation known as gaslighting. This tactic sees the bully undermine their victim’s confidence and make them start to question their own memory, judgment and reality.
Any of these bullying tactics can make it difficult for an individual to acknowledge that they are a victim. You may try to ignore it or think it's "just part of work." It's not. The threat is very real and, in many cases, you need outside help.
A full treatment
Bullying can be more than just mentally harmful; it can damage your physical health as well. Bullying victims report suffering gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea and high blood pressure. Treating physical issues as well as the emotional damage brought on by bullying requires the ability to care for the whole person in a way that goes beyond the surface symptoms. This is precisely what doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) are trained to do.
Osteopathic medicine is based on the philosophy of supporting the health of the whole person by focusing on wellness and prevention. DOs believe the mind, body and emotional status all contribute to a patient’s health and each should be treated as the vital component it is. DOs are trained to listen, so if you feel you're the victim of bullying, talk to a physician or mental health specialist about your treatment options today.
The potential threats to your health are simply too important to ignore.