Why Keeping Secrets Can Make You Sick

Why Keeping Secrets Can Make You Sick

“Can You Keep A Secret?”

Here’s something that’s not a secret: keeping secrets is hard. But did you know that keeping secrets, whether they’re yours or someone else’s, can actually make you feel ill?
Whether you’re keeping a secret from your significant other, your parents, your siblings, a friend, or your boss, holding something in can negatively affect your body and mind. Secrets are known to decrease our self worth, impact our well-being, and result in unsatisfactory relationships.
Top secret. Serious African businessman in formal suit holding a finger at his lips, saying 'shh', asking to keep silent while reading confidential papers, looking at the camera against wooden wall

The Science of Secrets

Concealment and deception, two of the main requirements when it comes to keeping secrets, can be extremely tiring and overwhelming to uphold. Keeping something kept inside can make us feel fraudulent, inauthentic, and even isolated because we always have to watch what we’re saying to who. Secrets get heavier throughout the years; so the longer you hold them in, the harder of a toll they will take.

Most of the time, it’s hardest to keep our own secrets. We overthink about and ruminate on our own mistakes the most frequently; and when we’re not busy trying to keep our secrets, we’re likely getting worried by them. Essentially, the problem with secrets isn’t that we have to keep them from other people. It’s that we have to keep living with the secrets on our own.

Can Secrets Make You Sick?

Yes, secrets can cause both mental and physical disorder. Thinking about the secrets we’re keeping too often may result in anxiety, depression, conflict with the brain’s prefrontal cortex, and more mind-related complications.

What Secrets May Do to Your Body

In addition to the mental issues that keeping secrets may trigger, holding things in can also cause extreme physical distress. And the bigger the secret is, the harder it is on the body. 

Keeping secrets may cause physical side effects such as:

  • Rapid disease progression
  • Increased blood sugar levels
  • Difficulties with quitting substances
  • Change in heart rate
  • Digestive system issues
  • Insomnia and restlessness

Considering all the harm the secrets can cause, would we be better off spilling them all?

Should You Stop Keeping Secrets?

Keeping secrets is sometimes part of human nature. Sometimes, they can even be good to hold onto for a little while (surprise parties, engagements, pregnancy, etc.). However, releasing secrets that have been holding you back can be extremely relieving.

Confiding in someone can reduce how much your mind wanders and how isolated you may feel with your secret. Telling your own secrets may even provide opportunities for advice and support. Keep in mind that while confiding in someone can be cathartic, it’s still important to be careful who you share things with and determine who you can trust your secrets with.

How to Avoid Getting Sick From Secrets

While there is no way to avoid being told secrets, it’s probably best not to carry anyone else’s private information on your shoulders. If someone asks if they can tell you something in confidence, really consider the effect the secret might have on you before listening to it.

When it comes to your own secrets, do some soul searching to figure out what the best move is. That could include figuring out why you’re trying to keep something inside, writing out a pros and cons list of releasing a secret, confiding in a friend, or seeing a therapist.

If you’re interested in learning more about the impact of secrets on the brain and body, contact our team of medical professionals for personalized advice.


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