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How does family conflict affect your mental health?

Welcome to our Mood-E Blog

Rebeckah Atkinson

Written by Rebeckah Atkinson, BS

Rebeckah is currently an intern and under the supervision of Kayce Bragg, LPCS (# 8061), LAC #369

Rebeckah Atkinson, BS  is a resident of West Columbia, South Carolina. She received her B.S. in Psychology from Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina in December 2018, and she is currently completing her M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Webster University (Columbia, SC). She is on track to graduate in the Spring of 2024. 

Rebeckah believes that coming to therapy is a powerful step in the healing process. She aspires to create an open, empathetic, culturally sensitive environment in which clients can express their mental health or life concerns in a judgement free environment. She employs an integrative, trauma-informed approach to counseling that includes person-centered, cognitive-behavioral, and family systems therapy techniques. Rebeckah works with individuals, children, couples, and families.

How Does Family Conflict Affect Your Mental Health?

family conflict

Family conflict refers to active opposition between family members. Because of the nature of family relationships, it can take a wide variety of forms, including verbal, physical, sexual, financial, or psychological. These conflicts can have a major impact on one’s mental health. A growing body of evidence on family conflicts and how it affects mental health has shown that negative family relationships can lead to stress, affect mental health, and even lead to issues of a physical nature. Conflict within families does not exist in one race or one socioeconomic status but affects most families at some point in their lives. If the family conflict is continuous, it can cause a ripple effect throughout the entire family. Family conflict can present itself in many forms, such as poverty, abuse, mental instability, and so many more.

How does family conflict affect children?

When children are young, they are still developing, physically, mentally, and emotionally. As children are growing, they require a feeling of security and safety to develop proper attachment and express emotions in an appropriate manner. This security and safety come from the caregiver that the child depends on. If that safe environment does not exist in their world, it can lead to the child’s brain developing incorrectly, and creating a feeling of insecurity and always being on guard. These patterns can lead to post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression, and anxiety. Not only can it have a damaging effect on their mental health, but it can also lead to a delay in cognitive development that may eventually turn into learning disabilities, creating even more stress. A child who is raised in a home with neglect and constant conflict is at a higher risk for behavioral issues outside of the home, particularly at school.

What happens to those children when they grow up?


Family conflict that has not been properly handled can lead to anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and many more mental health disorders into adulthood. When family conflict goes unresolved, it can lead to self-esteem issues, future relationship issues, trust issues, and many more problems. If an individual saw violence, substance abuse, neglect, or any negative behaviors in their childhood, it is likely to carry over into their life as an adult. Many of these individuals fall into the same patterns that were witnessed in their childhood, others choose to blame themselves for all the fighting and conflicts that they lived through, leading to many mental health issues. Now that this topic has become a major topic in the mental health industry, there are more resources provided to those individuals. Some of these resources include individual counseling, family counseling, parenting classes to help educate parents on how to properly handle these conflicts before it is too late.

What are some helpful steps to take to avoid or heal from family conflict?


Family conflict is best handled before it becomes a common occurrence. There are many options for handling family conflict before it leads to irreversible damage to an individual or family unit. The highest recommended step towards resolving this conflict is to reach out for help by contacting a counselor. Counselors are trained and able to see all sides of the problem, and work with the family unit or individual to recognize problem areas, find solutions to avoid future conflict, and even help individuals who grew up and were affected by conflict as a child. Some other useful tools for mitigating family conflict are meditating in moments where you feel the most stressed, to avoid lashing out at family, journaling to relieve stress, which is known to help release the stress in a healthy and positive way.


You are not alone!


Many people think that their family is the only one that is dysfunctional. This thought process exists because we were raised to keep things at home private and to put on a brave face for the outside world. This form of thinking is something that leads to detrimental damage in the family unit and the individuals within that unit.

Studies have shown that most families have experienced conflict at some point in their history. Talking about family conflict seems to still have a stigma attached to it but is slowly grabbing the attention of researchers due to the impact that is shown on children today who have negative home lives and individuals who have reached out for help due to childhood trauma that has haunted them as an adult. This is something that needs to be known, it is not your fault that your family did not properly protect you as a child. It is not your fault that your parents neglected you. It is not your fault that your parents got divorced, regardless of the things you overheard as a child.

This is a negative cycle that will continue throughout generations if it is not stopped, and you have the power to be the one who breaks that cycle, starting right now! Now that you know that you have that power, what are you going to do with it? Reaching out for help through therapy can be a powerful first step in the process of breaking that cycle and healing from the inside out. Another powerful step is to talk to your friends and family about the conflict and how it has affected your entire life. This is a daunting task, but once you have done some personal work and gained the proper skills, you will be confident in yourself to take on this task.

A very important step in the process to healing is to make sure to take care of yourself so that you can take care of those that depend on you for security and safety. This one choice could change your life, and the lives of future generations. This is not your fault, and you are in charge of making the choices that will change your life. Changing your life starts with you putting your foot down and saying, “no more!” Change is possible. Healing is possible. Just ask for help. You deserve better!


If you, or know of someone who could use some online counseling to feel heard and learn ways to cope, please connect with one of our therapists today for a free consultation.


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