5 Ways That Negative Thoughts Can Harm Your Health

The mind is an incredible thing. Most of us are already aware of the placebo effect. Simply put, the placebo effect occurs most often in medical research when one group receives a placebo, or sugar pill, to be used as a base line for the study, while the other group receives the actual medicine.

Though they aren’t being given any medicine at all the group is told that they are, which sometimes results in actual improvement in their symptoms or illness simply because they believe they are receiving medication. This is the placebo effect.

The lesser known and opposite tendency of the placebo effect is the nocebo effect. The nocebo effect is when you have an adverse reaction to a drug, food or treatmeant simply because you expect these adverse reactions to happen.

We hear time and time again about the power of positive thinking, but what about negative thinking?

Does it really manifest itself in our bodies and minds physically as well? Read on below for five ways that negative thinking can harm your health.

5 Ways that Negative Thoughts Can Harm Your Health

You Can Think Yourself Sick

Just like postitive thoughts in regards to your health can improve it, negative thoughts in regards to your health can hamper it. Think about it – how often do we see those with a positive outlook and joyful attitude sick or unhealthy?

Very rarely! The same goes for those with negative attitudes – you will most likely find a sick person with unhappy thoughts that often create their illness as a result.

This is due in part to the “fight or flight” response of the body. During this response the body’s mechanisms to repair itself do not function properly, which can lead to more sickness and medical conditions – all because of your negative thinking!

Your Negative Thoughts Are Making You Depressed

One of the major causes of depression and anxiety is negative thinking. This is due to the brain and the chemical impulses that it has to interpret.

When we think negatively the brain has trouble correctly interpreting the impulses, which may then send the wrong message to the central nervous system – this results in mood swings and unstable emotions.

Due to this process, the brain cannot figure out the right kind of emotion to send out to the rest of the body and thus, emotions are not properly channeled, leading to feelings of worry, trouble or depression. A person can even begin to feel heart palpitations in extreme cases as a result.

It Can Hamper Your Memory

It may not seem possible, but negative thinking even effects the function of the human brain. Negative thoughts can actually block the signals that travel from the central nervous system to the brain, which make it very difficult for the brain to process impulses.

This in turn negatively effects the rest of the body – if the brain cannot interpret impulses properly, the body suffers physically and mentally.

It is because of this that memory can be greatly affected. This can lead to forgetfulness, a lack of understanding and even a decrease in IQ.

You Can Increase Your Stress Levels

Negative thinking can also bring about more stress. Though many people deal with far too much stress already in their lives, too many negative thoughts can further that stress.

This unwanted mental stress can further bog down one’s brain with heavy thoughts that can become far too much to deal with over time.

This can lead to emotional stress as well, as the brain becomes agitated and doesn’t know what to do with the stress.

You Can Develop an Eating Disorder

Negative energy subtracts positive energy – it’s just that simple. Due to this negative emotional state that negative thoughts can put us in, it becomes easier to see oneself as less attractive and appealing.

This negative emotional state can contribute many times to an eating disorder, whether it be from over eating or lack of eating.

It Can Shorten Your Life

A study published by San Diego researchers in The Lancet examined the death records of 30,000 Chinese Americans and then compared them to over 400,000 white Americans.

The study revealed that Chinese Americans die significantly earlier than white Americans do if they have a combination of disease and an ill-fated birth year considered by Chinese astrology.

The study showed that the more the Chinese Americans believed in the traditional Chinese superstitions, the earlier they were to die. Upon further study, the researchers found that the reduction in life span could not be blamed on genetic factors, lifestyle choices, behavior or any other variables.

The conclusion was that because these Chinese Americans believed so completely in the traditional superstitions, they ultimately caused their own early demise.


Negative thinking and the thoughts that accompany them are part of life. We all have those days when we think little of ourselves or battle against inner turmoil. These days shouldn’t be taken lightly though, especially when they start to become a habit.

Just like positive thinking can positively impact your health, negative thinking can harm it. Though it may seem difficult depending on your situation, switching to a more positive attitude and way of thinking is actually just a matter of conscious effort.

Instead of only seeing the negative in a given situation, seek out the positive and focus on that instead. You don’t need to get rid of negative thoughts, simply replace them with more positive ones.

Rachel Skinner

Rachel Skinner has been a health and fitness writer since 2006. Rachel Skinner is a huge advocate of healthy living and when she's not writing for her health blog, you will probably find her at the gym!