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Why People Get Sick in Bad Relationships

You are welcome to share Dr. Gloria Lee’s article:

Lonely woman in the corner of a white room, feeling sick and sad. And how you might be one of them.

And How You Might Be One of Them

People in unhappy and unhealthy relationships get sick much more often than those in happy and healthy relationships. This is because animosity, arguments, and discord create stress. And when we are stressed, our brain produces cortisol, the stress hormone.

We all need a bit of cortisol for optimal functioning. But an overload of cortisol in the body becomes toxic. More specifically, when we suppress our emotions, such as anger, sadness, or shame, our body keeps the score.

Over time, the overabundance of cortisol in the body compromises both our emotional system and our immune system, which is really one big circuit. Meaning, when one system goes down, both do.

Excess cortisol inflames our immune system, causing illnesses such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, cancer, coronary disease, migraines, and more.

Concurrently, too much cortisol breaks down our emotional system. When we depress (i.e., suck it up or suppress) our emotions, we are literally causing our depression.  

So, what can we do about this?

If this phenomenon resonates with you in your relationship, here are some suggestions to help you decrease cortisol and begin the healing process:

  1. Consider getting professional help to work on relational conflicts, communication issues, and attachment wounds. Is your partner open to getting outside help? Are you?

  2. Ponder about your relationship. How long has the discord been going on for? What have you and your partner been doing to shift the dynamics, if anything? If nothing, why?

  3. Be realistic. Is this relationship the right one for you? Why do you stay? Perhaps it’s time to have a heart to heart with your partner.

  4. Practice self-care. Prioritize your mental, emotional, and physical health above all else. Carve out time to slow down and take care of your psychological and physical needs. Do things that rejuvenate and ground you in who you are. Exercise, meditate, and journal, as these things have been proven to decrease stress and enhance a sense of wellbeing.


Remember, you have this one precious life. Don’t let it be cut short needlessly by an autoimmune condition or depression. As hard as it may be to do something different, it’s much harder staying the same. I hope you choose to change.

P.S. Stay tuned for part two of this blog post on how women, in particular, are impacted by relational stress.

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