Narcissism & Your Health: Can Narcissist Abuse Cause Physical Health Issues? by Dr. Bethany Cook Clinical Psychologist

Narcissism & Your Health: Can Narcissist Abuse Cause Physical Health Issues?

Q. I've read that victims of narcissist abuse are in constant fight-or-flight mode, and it can affect your health. Is that true?

A. Long answer: It is true that being in a relationship with a narcissist is damaging to not only your mental health, but also to your physical health.

When the body perceives danger, it releases the stress hormone cortisol. This activates the flight/flight/freeze/fawn response in us, as we look to avoid and escape the danger (i.e. the relationship with the narcissist). The problem is, not only is this happening in the body, but the narcissist’s relational style (love bombing, ignoring, abusing, gaslighting, repeat) also creates a trauma bond in the brain. This happens as oxytocin is released during the love bombing, then the stress hormones kick in shortly thereafter, creating a neuro-chemical “cycle,” which the survivor may become “used to,” which then becomes hard to break out of when trying to leave this person.

Also, after enduring the emotional and verbal abuse from a narcissist, a person may develop potential brain damage. Those who suffer from emotional and verbal trauma have been shown to have a smaller hippocampus, and their amygdala swells. The hippocampus is crucial when it comes to learning and memories. The amygdala, associated with our reptilian brain, controls our primary emotions and functions (like heart rate and breathing) as well as lust, fear and hate. It also triggers the flight/fight/freeze/fawn response.

As a result, a survivor lives in a constant state of anxiety or fear. Even when the narcissist is being kind and loving, the survivor knows this will end, so they never get a moment of peace from this heightened state.

Short answer: YES!!! 

The content on 30Seconds.com is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. The information on this site should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, and is not a substitute for professional care. Always consult your personal healthcare provider. The opinions or views expressed on 30Seconds.com do not necessarily represent those of 30Seconds or any of its employees, corporate partners or affiliates.

We get lots of great questions from our community members, and we have lots of great experts to provide answers. Have a question? Send it to us at info@30seconds.com and we'll do our best to get it answered for you! 

Take 30 seconds and join the 30Seconds community, and follow us on Facebook to get inspiration in your newsfeed daily. Inspire and be inspired.

Related Products on Amazon We Think You May Like:

30Second Mobile, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Expert Q&A: I Think My Husband Is a Narcissist, But How Do I Know for Sure & Help My Kids Understand?

Expert Q&A: How Can I Start to Repair My Mental Health After Getting Out of a Relationship With a Narcissist?

Narcissism Expert Q&A: Can a Narcissist Ever Really Change? Please Help!

Expert Q&A: What Makes a Person Become a Narcissist? Are They Born That Way?

Elisa A. Schmitz 30Seconds
Thank you for sharing these incredibly important insights, Dr. Bethany Cook Clinical Psychologist . Your answer helps so many people suffering from this abuse.
Cassiday
Been there, done that. So accurate.
Debbiem62
Is there help for this.

join discussion

Please login to comment.

recommended tips

Do You Need Sunscreen in the Winter? For Your Skin's Sake, Read This!

Melanoma: Why You Need to Schedule a Skin Cancer Screening Now

Supporting Women With Breast Cancer: Here's a Great Gift for All Cancer Patients

Skin Cancer: 4 Easy Ways to Protect Yourself & Your Family!

Got 30 seconds? Sign up for 30Seconds.com and get the best of our tips each week!