Lately, neuroscientists have been warning people of the biohazards of keeping a secret. While it may seem innocent and harmless, keeping secrets from others, especially your close loved ones, has the power to compromise your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Of course, secrets to a lesser degree are normal, and even natural. However, when secrets become a hindrance to your everyday life and relationships, it is of utmost importance that you address the emotional root cause of this stressor.

Why keeping secrets compromises health

According to the psychiatrist and author of “Anatomy of a Secret Life,” keeping secrets or living a secret life fosters deeply troubled dialogues and internal conflicts.

Dangerously, when professionally left undiagnosed or neglected, secrets can lead to chronic anxiety and worry.

The reason? The cingulate cortex, essential for our emotional responses, is deeply ingrained and wired to tell the truth. Known as the “logical lobe,” when we betray our natural instincts to be transparent and truthful, other regions of the brain cannot adequately convey important information and data.

The bigger the secret, the more anxiety

Evidently keeping secrets puts neurological stress on the brain to perform its biological and instinctual tasks, stressing the cortex. “The prefrontal cortex is involved in decision-making, complex thinking, and deception,” says neurosurgeon Gopal Chopra, and therefore, when these two regions cannot operate without restrictions, the end result is dangerous emotional burdens.

Commonly known as the “fight or flight” response, when your prefrontal cortex wins the battle within your brain to continually keep a secret, the pressure causes your cingulate cortex to accelerate your body’s production of stress hormones. The bigger the secret, or the higher you consider the risk of the secret escaping, the greater the anxiety and negative symptoms .

Evidently, if secrets persist for long periods of time, this can lead to sustained mental stress, with the power to manifest and resurface through digestive issues, high blood pressure, insomnia, back pain, thyroid problems, and an immune system. weakened.

Dos and Don’ts of Secrets

Despite the danger of withholding them, secrets are a natural facet of human nature. For starters, many secrets by their very nature will reduce stress or unnecessary contention, such as not telling your child about their surprise birthday gift or a holiday surprise that you have planned for your partner.

The point of diminishing returns, for secrets, is when keeping the secret or the stressful emotions that accompany the thought of it not leaking impact your inner emotional dialogue.

When the perception that a secret is so expensive in your daily life that the thought that it will be known results in physical illness or ailments, it is imperative that you seek professional attention – or at least, trust someone close and worthy of confidence.

Finally, it is important to remember that we often exaggerate the importance we are giving to a secret to such a degree that we are hurt more by the social dynamics of this perception than by the actual content of the secret.

While it may seem trivial or obvious, the simple act of writing a pros and cons list can be instrumental in reducing unnecessary stressors. This simple task has been scientifically proven to dramatically reduce stress hormones, lower blood pressure, and ease outbreaks of mental illness.

Dr. Eric Jackson

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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