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  • Sam DiFranco

Controlling Behavior Leads to Stress, Anxiety and Depression


stress, depression and anxiety
stress, depression and anxiety

Controlling behavior can come from just about anyone in your life. It could be your boss, a family member, a friend, or even your partner. Controlling people are all around. This will lead to stress, depression and anxiety. We most commonly hear about controlling spouses and controlling relationships. Although controlling behavior can feel extra traumatic in romantic relationships, any person in your life can control you in a harmful way. And they can be a man or a woman. It is a mark of courage to recognize the signs of controlling behavior and controlling people. Even more so, it’s an act of bravery to respond appropriately. What is Controlling Behavior? Controlling behavior is when one person expects, compels, or requires others to cater to their own needs — even at others’ expense. The controlling person targets an individual and dominates them in an unhealthy, self-serving manner. Who Falls Victim to Controlling People? Controlling people often prey upon those they’re closest to, taking advantage of others’ introversion, submissive tendencies, or simple good faith. Being manipulated, used, or controlled by another person can lead to a number of harmful effects. Some may be so subtle, that you don’t realize until you’re cemented into a toxic, controlling relationship with your friend, coworker, or partner. This will lead to stress, depression and anxiety. Controlling people tend to prey on the kindest folks they can find. Other effects are all-consuming, and can even lead to shame for ‘allowing’ yourself to be controlled. Remember it is not at all your fault. Controlling people tend to prey on the kindest folks they can find. This will lead to stress, depression and anxiety. If you’re being controlled by another person, you may experience any of the following:

  • Damaged confidence and sense of self

  • Difficulty taking action

  • Fear of being without the person who controls you

  • Depression, stress, anxiety, the works…

  • Lack of will to live

  • Complex PTSD, especially if the control is prolonged or coupled with other types of abuse

This will lead to stress, depression and anxiety. Subtle Signs of Controlling Behavior Remember to be cautious when you see even small signs of controlling behavior. A controlling husband, wife, partner, or friend may try to maintain plausible deniability, so that it’s easier to gaslight you that they aren’t mistreating you. Some of the subtler signs of control can be:

  • Giving or seeking more attention than usual.

  • Threatening you with ultimatums.

  • Putting you down when things don’t go their way.

  • Using banter as a disguise for underlying criticism in the presence of family and friends.

  • Making you feel unworthy or worthless.

If it happened once, it was probably for a reason, and the person will probably want to use you again. This will lead to stress, depression and anxiety. When these more subtle signs become constant, and repetitive, or form a pattern, then it is high time to take action — either by speaking up, setting boundaries, distancing yourself through techniques like grey rocking, or exiting the relationship. What Causes People to be Controlling? There are various reasons why some people try to control others, and sometimes these are difficult to figure out. Some potential causes of controlling behavior are: low self-esteem; being micromanaged or controlled by someone else; traumatic past experiences; a need to feel in-control; or a need to feel ‘above’ someone else. This will lead to stress, depression and anxiety. None of these have to do with you, the victim of inappropriate control. But if you want to preserve a relationship with a controlling person, consider whether they might be able to work on any of the above influences. Common Ways People Control Others: No one controlling relationship is worse than the other – they are all equally bad! Control and manipulation are not love; the outcome is a life of imprisonment ultimately leading to deep-rooted feelings of resentment.” ― Ken Poirot Some controlling behaviors can be recognized easily while others take time to manifest. When the following examples below become repetitive and form into a habit – it has become a controlling relationship. Psychological Manipulation Psychological manipulation is a broad spectrum of mental and emotional abuse, and its damaging effects can be long lasting that can lead to stress, anxiety and depression. Emotional abuse consists of words or actions used to degrade, isolate, or control you in a relationship. This form of abuse can often first be mistaken as caring or concern, but is based on manipulation. Abusers tend to justify their actions by being extra nice after an episode, or even by blaming you instead. They make it easy to question whether you’re overreacting. If you do not feel properly loved or safe, your gut is probably right. Below are some specific examples of emotional abuse that might sound familiar. This will lead to stress, depression and anxiety. Psychological manipulation can show as one or many of (but not limited to) the following:

  • intense jealousy

  • isolating you from friends and family

  • judging how you speak

  • the silent treatment

  • constant criticism

  • guilt trips

  • emotional blackmail

  • intimidation

This will lead to stress, depression and anxiety.

Patterns of Emotional Abuse

  • Control and Isolate One of the telltale signs of manipulation is purposefully separating you from your friends and family. Their reasoning may be that they don’t get along well with them, or would prefer to spend time alone. However, the abuser uses this to gain sole power over your life and make you feel alone.

  • Threats and “Jokes” Have you ever had to tell someone you don’t like playing mind games? Well, this may be how it all starts, as somewhat of a joke between two people. Another sign of abuse is degrading jokes or suggestive comments that make you feel unsafe or unloved. This may involve threatening to take something important away from you, or insulting your intelligence. By doing this, the abuser makes you feel worthless and scared.

  • Gaslighting and Blame While you may try to confront your partner about abusive treatment, they may turn it against you instead. Gaslighting is when an abuser distorts reality and makes you question your own sanity. Signs of gaslighting may involve denying having said something abusive or calling you crazy for remembering something incorrectly. This will lead to stress, depression and anxiety.

Physical Control or Abuse Often, the person being controlled will turn a blind eye or not acknowledge controlling behaviors. That’s understandable. But in the case of physical abuse, the control may have started without your realizing it – as the other person just crossing a number of subtle fine lines. This will lead to stress, depression and anxiety. It’s not always as obvious as punches and bruises. Getting beaten up is not the only form of physical abuse, even though it is the most common. Physical control can also look like restrictions on travel, the clothes you wear, or who you see. This will lead to stress, depression and anxiety. The controlling person in your life may start by asking where you’re going, then by restricting where and when you leave the house. Eventually you find yourself physically isolated and in fear of violence should you decide to meet up with a friend or just go for a walk. This will lead to stress, depression and anxiety. You may be threatened or coerced into sex, or they may gaslight you into thinking it was your idea, even though you don’t want it. These are examples of controlling behavior using physical abuse – or even just the threat of it – as a weapon. Controlling husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, and partners can all be physically controlling and abusive. Both men and women can commit this behavior. Financial Exploitation Financial abuse can come from two directions. First, a controlling person may find ways to cut off your autonomy so you become financially dependent on them; they might ask you to change jobs or even leave work. This ensures that everything you do with a financial implication, goes through them. This will lead to stress, depression and anxiety. The second, alternative manifestation is equally restrictive. They might focus all financial responsibilities on you where you are the only one contributing to the couple’s or family’s finances. In both situations, it can become almost impossible for you to leave the relationship due to the financial burdens in your name. This will lead to stress, depression and anxiety. What Can I Do? Don’t blame yourself. While it may be tempting, don’t try to find reasons behind the abuse. Arguing with the abuser is unlikely to break the pattern. If it’s possible, leave the relationship or limit your time with the abuser as much as possible. Once you’ve done this, allow yourself time to recover and heal. Remember, despite what your abuser wants you to think, you are not alone.

Ask yourself, do you want to manipulated, lied to and belittled into a state of depression, stress and anxiety? Therapists at Star Point Counseling Center in Brandon Florida and Tampa Florida can help you. Call or text us at 813-244-1251.



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