The Mental and Physical Impact on Bullying in the Workplace

Girl holding head

“There is no gesture more devastating than the back turning away.”
― Rachel Simmons

There can be severe consequences, both mentally and physically, to victims as a result of workplace bullying. In fact, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute, 35% of the workforce in the USA have reported being bullied at work. What does workplace bullying constitute as? Put simply, workplace bullying is when either one person or a group of people, in the workplace, target a colleague with intimidating or unreasonable behavior. Commonly, victims are often well-liked, sociable and will be unlikely to confront the bullies hence why they feel like they can target the individual as they believe they can get away with it.


Workplace bullying can take the form of a number of ways, such as:

  • Deliberate or embarrassing heckling/abuse.
  • Being isolated socially.
  • Verbal abuse/or swearing.
  • Having your work and contributions ignored repeatedly.
  • Practical jokes from the same colleague on a regular basis.
  • Frequent targeting for criticism which is unjust and unnecessary.

Often this kind of bullying comes from a manager or senior colleague who feels insecure or threatened by the victim in a professional sense. With it often coming from those who are senior in the company, it is common that the company’s culture encourages this kind of behaviour, proving detrimental to the business and individuals as a result.

Emotional consequences of bullying

For those who suffer from workplace bullying, the psychological impact can be huge. A survey conducted by the WBI found that 45% of victims reported stress-related health issues as a result. This can have devastating consequences not only on their work-life but also personally. The increased stress that is brought on by the targets can lead to further mental health problems such as insomnia, panic attacks and even depression. Shockingly depression can prevent individuals from turning up to work, social events and stop them from enjoying every day activities. Worse off, a study by Yale University found that victims of bullying were nine times more likely to contemplate suicide. The longer individuals are victims of workplace bullying, the more serious the problem and long-term potential harm that is caused, not only emotionally but physically.

Physical consequences of bullying

Naturally, those who suffer from workplace bullying build up a “fear factor” within the body. This not only places additional stress on their mental health, but also compromises their physical well-being. Your body will then produce your stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, in larger quantities leading to an increased heart rate, constricted blood vessels and an overall more “tense” body. If this is repeated continuously, which is often the way with bullying then it can lead to more damaging consequences on the body. Two common physical impacts of stress are:

  •  Increased risk of heart disease.
    Stress raises blood pressure, causes inflammation and increases cholesterol, all major determinants of heart disease.
  • Damage to the digestive system.
    Those who suffer from stress are reported to notice abdominal pain, nausea and changes to bowel patterns which can result in irritable bowel syndrome further exaggerating the issue and leading to further anxiety.
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About Emma Mills

Emma is a freelance writer and mother of two, who was bullied in the past at work, and wishes to help educate people about its impact.
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  1. Pingback: Document Workplace Bullying –Protect your yourself and your rights! - Bullying Recovery, LLC

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