The experiences you had as a child have a way of staying with you throughout your adult life. If you’re someone in the group who grew up in toxic families , you’ve likely been through a lot. You have learned to keep people away to protect yourself from injuries. You may even have made the decision to cut ties with your family when you were already on your own. Even if you cut off communication, the emotional scars remain with you.

According to a study conducted by Dr. Giovanni A. Salum, children who come from toxic or dysfunctional families are more likely to suffer from mental health problems . These problems are usually caused by internalizing or externalizing conflicts experienced during childhood. If you grew up in a toxic family, there is no doubt that you have overcome many obstacles in your life. But growing up in a toxic environment can leave you facing certain struggles for the rest of your life, including mental health.

Conflicts that people from toxic families face every day

These are four serious struggles that people from toxic families face every day.


Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems, and it has a specific link to toxic homes. According to a study by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, a “significantly higher” percentage of adults with generalized anxiety disorder come from families with dysfunctional homes. You may have witnessed abuse, experienced abuse yourself, or were left alone for long periods of time.

Maybe you weren’t allowed to try new things, be creative, or explore, or you were punished every time you failed. Whatever type of toxic environment you grew up in, your childhood experiences can end up causing anxiety that stays with you as you age.

2. Problems communicating and interacting with others

If you grew up in a toxic family, hugging or being emotional may have been totally absent . As you age, this can make it difficult to communicate and interact with others, including being physical or having a strong emotional connection with someone.

You have learned not to let people get close to you, which is a hard habit to break. A Texas Woman’s University psychological study found: “Adults raised in dysfunctional families frequently report difficulties forming and maintaining intimate relationships, maintaining positive self-esteem, and trusting others. They fear a loss of control and deny their feelings and reality. ”

To let someone get close to you, you have to trust that they are not going to hurt you, which is much easier said than done.

3. Questioning reality

If you grew up with toxic parents, the way you saw things around you was not the way your parents saw things. Maybe you were constantly accused of something you never did, then punished for it, or you remember a certain event that your parents say never happened.

The distorted vision of the reality of your family, can end up causing you to question your own thoughts and beliefs. It can be difficult to decipher what is real and what is not. According to Texas Women’s University , “In most dysfunctional families, children tend to learn to doubt their own intuition and emotional reactions.” Trusting your own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs can become a daily struggle.

4. Have a critical inner voice

Growing up in a toxic environment rarely guarantees the love, support, and emotional connection you need as a child. Without those foundations, it is almost impossible to build a strong sense of self-worth. If you were abused, your parents may have told you that you were not good enough, that you were a failure, or that you were worthless.

Even if they didn’t use those words, there are many ways those messages could have been conveyed to you. These feelings drain your sense of self-worth, leading to a harsh and critical inner voice. This can make you extremely hard on yourself in all things, whether it’s school, work, or relationships. People who grow up in a toxic environment often face a constant struggle with self-confidence.

If you are one of the people who have grown up in a toxic or dysfunctional family and suffer from these conflicts, or if you are not sure that you are, but you identify with one or all of these characteristics, do not hesitate to seek psychological help if you think that you are. It will be of great help to overcome it, and guide your life in a better way.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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