Do Narcissists Make You Sick?

Your body can be painful as well as your life if you have a relationship with a narcissist. Indeed, if they're a constant in your life, your health can be seriously affected.
Do Narcissists Make You Sick?
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 16 October, 2023

Some people say that they had the greatest weight removed from their shoulders when they managed to get away from a narcissist. However, being a survivor of this type of harmful and even abusive tie leaves a scar that’s difficult to forget, along with many internal wounds that need repairing. In fact, narcissists can make you sick, altering both your physical and psychological health.

Sophocles pointed out that it only takes a day to get to know a perverse individual but to get to know a just person takes longer. This rule doesn’t apply to narcissists. In fact, as a rule, these figures come into your life exhibiting remarkable charm and wearing the most seductive of masks.

It’s only as the days (or months) pass, that you become aware of their wrongdoings, emotional coldness, and aggressive behavior patterns. Indeed, the more contact and closeness you have with these individuals, the greater the consequences will be. If you’ve ever had a narcissistic boss you’ll recognize these traits well. Similarly, if you’ve ever had the misfortune to fall in love with a narcissist.

We must also make a special mention of those people who were raised by narcissistic parents. Post-traumatic stress disorder is the most recurrent wound usually suffered beyond childhood/early youth marked by these kinds of individuals.

Individuals with selfish behaviors are those who undermine your integrity by making you believe that everything you are, as well as what you express and need are unimportant. This ends up making you sick in numerous ways.

Tired woman symbolizing how narcissists can make us sick
A narcissist will boycott all your boundaries, causing you a mental breakdown.

Yes, narcissists can make you sick

No one can make you sick with their mere presence. Viruses, bacteria, and abusive treatment by other human beings can though. This is the case with narcissists. It’s not even necessary that they touch you to cause you discomfort, suffering, weakness, and even pain.

Psychological abuse is one of the ‘pathogens’ that affect us the most when it comes to developing a physical and psychological illness. A study conducted by the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Louisville (USA) claims that emotional abuse, such as that suffered in a relationship, affects health and increases the risk of mental disorders.

Today, we’re learning increasingly more about the effects of associations with problematic figures. For instance, we know that narcissists can, indeed, make you sick. Moreover, often, the invisible injuries they leave you with tend to linger even when they’re no longer in your life. They leave traumatic imprints behind them. This is the reason why you usually need psychological support to repair everything in your life that they’ve broken and violated.

Let’s see how narcissists affect your health.

After leaving a narcissist, your physical health will considerably improve. The most difficult thing will be healing your psychological wounds.

1. Fibromyalgia and narcissistic families

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that’s closely related to chronic and emotional stress. A study conducted by Dumlupınar University (Turkey) describes how, as a rule, there’s a positive correlation between childhood traumas and this medical condition.

Moreover, having grown up in a family made up of one or two narcissistic parents often results in a child developing this musculoskeletal disease of neurological origin.

2. Irritable bowel syndrome and intense emotions

Recent scientific research conducted with mice explains the communication between the brain and the gut. It states that constant stress situations alter the intestinal microbiota and that this leads to systemic inflammation.

Moreover, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)  may originate from continued exposure to a narcissistic figure who subjected the sufferer to a state of intense and exhausting anguish.

3. A weaker immune system

In many cases, narcissists can cause a progressive drop in your defense system. This phenomenon is often seen in the workplace. When you have a narcissistic boss or a colleague, you might find yourself suffering from anything from cold sores to colds, fatigue, dermatitis, etc.

Once again, this is due to acute stress that upsets your internal balance. It’s because of higher levels of cortisol and adrenaline in your body. If this situation continues for months, the effects could be even more dangerous.

4. Cardiovascular health, the aching heart

One of the greatest enemies of your heart is adrenaline. Its release is essential in those moments when you need to act or escape from a perceived threat, for example.

Being caught in a stressful situation with an adverse figure has an influence on your heart. Your adrenaline rises when you experience acute stress. This translates into an increased heart rate and bronchodilation. You start to suffer from tachycardia, dizziness, tiredness, and a feeling of drowning. These are the kinds of experiences that shouldn’t be maintained over time.

Narcissists invest a lot of energy in manipulating you and consuming your self-esteem to keep you under their control. The effects of this continuous treatment can have a severe impact on your physical and mental health.

5. Mental health

As well as exhaustion, headache, intestinal disturbances, and tachycardia, narcissists impact your mental health. As a rule, many of these physical effects are also somatic symptoms of the emotional suffering they subject you to.

The most frequent mental conditions are as follows:

Many of these psychological realities are based on the destruction of self-esteem along with feelings of shame and helplessness. They often leave you stuck, not knowing how to respond to the narcissistic abuse.

Patient in therapy symbolizing how narcissists can make us sick
Narcissists can make you sick in many ways. Therapy is the best strategy for healing their impact.

Final note

Narcissists can make you sick and they do it in multiple ways. However, the ‘viral load’ that they leave behind will depend on the time that you remain under their influence. Therefore, the less you expose yourself to their presence and treatment, the less harmful they’ll be to your well-being.

It should also be noted that cutting off contact with these problematic personalities isn’t always synonymous with healing. As a rule, any physical symptoms will disappear before mental problems. That’s why you often find yourself carrying around silent but devastating trauma.

Finally, if you’ve survived a narcissistic relationship, don’t hesitate to ask for specialized help if you feel you need it. Only then will you be able to mend everything in your life that’s broken and heal the symptoms the narcissist left you with.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.