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Effects Of Chronic Narcissistic Abuse On Your Physical Health

Have you ever wondered if the stress you’ve endured either growing up under a Narcissist or being in a long term relationship with a Narcissist can make you physically ill?

I grew up with Narcissistic parents, had a blood disorder in my teens, and in my young 20’s was diagnosed with a systemic autoimmune disease.  Which almost took my life on more than one occasion. I am still dealing with the on-going effects of this disease, and have also been unfortunate enough to have had cancer later in life.  I’ve dealt with some very serious health issues throughout my life, and have seen more and more people questioning abuse and health issues.

Extreme chronic emotional stress is a catalyst for a number of physical changes within the body.

Being chronically abused creates a state of stress and distress within you, a state of constant negative anticipation, which changes the way your brain reacts to circumstances and stresses later in life. Whether they be large or small, your reserves to cope have been weakened, their context does not matter.  These changes eventually become hardwired to hyper-react and make it difficult to stand down. Or, stand-up to draining stimuli.  The effect cuts both ways.

If you’ve been emotionally abused (not lessening the effects of physical abuse here), know that it’s not your fault. There is no “correct” way to feel about it.  Emotional abuse (any abuse) isn’t normal nor is it ever healthy, but your feelings of hurt, fear and letdown are justified.

Emotional abuse can lead to mental and physical symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored. Chronic emotional abuse and the stress therefrom will eventually manifest physically.  Your mind and body can only take so much.

The American Psychological Association lists a cornucopia of negative health effects due to stress, such as muscle tension; headaches; asthma attacks; rapid breathing leading to panic attacks; cardiovascular problems; hypertension; inflammation of the circulatory system; higher cholesterol levels; increased epinephrine and cortisol levels; adrenal fatigue; insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes; heartburn; gastrointestinal distress; irritable bowel syndrome; erectile dysfunction; irregular, painful, or absent menstruation; increased menopausal hot flashes; and reduction in sexual libido.

Some additional things that can stem from emotional abuse:

Memory loss
PTSD (angry outbursts; being startled easily, negative thoughts, flashbacks creating rapid heartbeat)
CPTSD (chronic PTSD)
Difficulty concentrating
Muscle Tension

Racing heartbeat/Anxiety
Various other aches and pains

Some of the most common autoimmune diseases are:
(Chronic stress can increase the chances of these occurring)

Rheumatoid arthritis
Diabetes type 1
Celiac’s disease
Multiple sclerosis
Crohn’s disease
Ulcerative colitis
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
Grave’s disease
Myasthenia gravis

Symptoms vary with each autoimmune disease, but some common symptoms include fatigue; joint or muscle pain; muscle soreness, numbness, or weakness; changes in weight; changes in bowel movements; abdominal pain; and skin rashes.

This information doesn’t mean that because you have suffered abuse that you will develop any of these disorders, everyone’s body reacts differently in each situation.  If you are questioning how you are feeling, or see a pattern in your health presenting itself, perhaps, discuss it with your doctor.

Ways to help deal with having a Chronic condition:

  • Join a support group. There are plenty of support groups for chronic health conditions, as well as national organizations.
  • Educating and empowering yourself to manage stress
  • Learning coping mechanisms – meditation; positive affirmations, etc.
  • Get physically active. Exercise of at least 90 minutes a week can help you sleep better, keep your mind sharp, and reduce the risk of depression. Even less physical exercise like a walk everyday helps. Just keep moving.
  • Stay Social. Friends can help you heal. Enjoying the company of others can be enough to boost your spirits.
  • Watch your diet. When you are stressed you can wind up eating all the wrong things.  Make sure to eat a variety of veggies, fruits and lean proteins.
  • Make a good night sleep a priority. If you have trouble going to sleep, try easing some of your stress by listening to soothing music; aromatherapy (lavender oil); deep breathing exercises, and meditation.
  • Volunteer. Find a cause you like and step out and help. When you help others, it takes the focus off of you and it makes you feel good.

Remember, what works for one person may not work for another.  As always, if you find yourself stuck and none of these things change the way you feel, be sure to speak to a medical professional.

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10 thoughts on “Effects Of Chronic Narcissistic Abuse On Your Physical Health”

  1. I left my husband in Washington State and moved to Florida. He would never stop yelling at me and I could feel my body alerting me that I was going to have a stroke or a heart attack and die. I had to get out of that Lifestyle. Florida is beautiful and I have been able to enjoy swimming and running and losing lots of weight. He still wants me to come back home. I can tell him, I am never coming back to him and he sends flowers and gifts and promises me the moon. You can’t tell him anything. He knows everything! He never listened to me when I was there and he still doesn’t hear a word I am saying. He says he can’t be a Narcissist because he is not vain and into self love! sigh~~

    1. My Ex narc left 4 sister/narc after 2 weeks of being with her he was begging me to come back, he use to hit me but changed .. it had been 3 months of no contact & he calls & leaves MSG’s, he sits outside my house & has said he is sorry & I can have his phone & he doesn’t want her, my 28 year old son has become a hermit I was so sick when I told him to leave high blood pressure, itchy sores all over,overweight,& Now diabetes, I have already lost 30 kg & trying to leave life, but im still not sure if he is a narcissist, im so tired not sleeping properly,& my narc sister is not showing anyone she is with him he is not flaunting her & some things don’t sound narcissist can you help?

  2. A good read. I also wrote an article on the negative mental effects from staying in a narcissistic relationship for too long.

    These people are very very toxic to our lives.

    ***Per policy: Included link under review by Moderator***

  3. I agree. Our physical emotions contribute to chronic health problems. However, most recent material Webscape or WebMD report that our brains have the capacity to “rewire”. You can help make a difference in your rewiring.Resolve to deal with the 24/7/365 anxiety. Meditate, run,read (something pleasant) and give your brain and bod a vacay from negative feelings.Sing, dance (or try to) and be aware that body movement is VERY helpful….just when you don’t feel like moving.SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP. NO YOU AIN’T CRAZY!!! But you will learn the the tools to help handle the NC People and help you heal.It’s a Win-Win. Many professionals,will charge you according to your income . You decide: a life ful of being overwhelmed with bad memories or seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. (And it ain’t no train!!)

  4. I always suffered with extreme anxiety from being raised by a narcissistic mother. It finally caught up to me last year when I just felt overall unwell, in pain, and exhausted. I was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease, an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid. I’m still struggling in some days, but I need to eat better and exercise.

  5. I have lived through a nentally and very physically abusive step father to now married to a Narcissist. I have had Collin tests due to my daily stomach issues where no reason could be found. I take prozac, anxiety meds, sleeping meds. I had 2 disc replaced in my neck but my upper body muscles are so tense I hurt always. I suffer from nightly headaches. I felt it was because of my marriage bur, most ppl say No..My doctor a few weeks ago said. I bet this is why you have the constant stomach problems and she advised me to start recording him. We been together for 25yrs, married 18 and out of that 18 rounding up only 6 where what I’d call normal and that doesn’t say much. If it is from him…This only gives me hope then that when I get out and I am preparing that maybe my body pains might actually slowly get better as I can relax and heal emotionally.

  6. Years ago just before I divorced my malignant narcissist wasband, we were having an argument that made me feel particularly powerless. We were in the car so I could not physically leave. I suddenly had this horrible physical paralysis where I was literally unable to speak, it was hard to breathe, & my chest felt unbelievably heavy.

    The narcissist became irate, & berated me for a lack of response. In retrospect it was an accidentally brilliant way to get the best of him, but I have always wondered if this is anything other people have experienced, & is there is a name for it?

    1. Anxiety /Freeze Response – It is a survival mechanism and it is awful. I’ve been there but while still in the relationship, I’ve done some healing so it is not nearly as extreme as it was.

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