Health Conditions A-Z Cardiovascular Disorders Heart Disease Can Negative Thinking Make You Sick? Would you say that people are generally untrustworthy? Your answer is a bigger deal than you might think. By Adam Hoffman Updated on January 4, 2023 Medically reviewed by Jonathan B. Jassey, DO Medically reviewed by Jonathan B. Jassey, DO Jonathan B. Jassey, DO, is a private pediatrician at Bellmore Merrick Medical. Dr. Jassey also specializes in treating ADHD, anxiety, depression, OCD, autism and other mental health issues. learn more Share this page on Facebook Share this page on Twitter Share this page on Pinterest Email this page You may know that stress can produce physical symptoms, like an upset stomach or depression often physically hurts. But a growing body of evidence suggests that negative emotions and thoughts may also have links to other serious health problems, like heart disease. "Many negative emotions such as anger, fear, and frustration become problematic when those emotions turn into a more permanent disposition or a habitual outlook on the world," Emiliana Simon-Thomas, PhD, science director of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, told Health. Here's what you should know about negative emotions and thinking patterns may lead to health complications and what to do about improving your well-being. How To Live for a Long Time Cynicism and Health Take cynicism, for example. A study published in 2014 in Neurology linked high levels of cynicism later in life to a greater risk of dementia than those more trusting. That negative way of thinking may also hurt your heart. For example, a study published in 2020 in Psychophysiology looked at 196 people who took psychological stress tests. The researchers determined that cynical hostility may cause a high risk of heart disease. With cynical hostility, a person continues to react to stressful circumstances with a similar intensity level, no matter how much exposure they have to other stressful situations. 5 Habits to Steal from Powerful People Health Impacts of Hostility Another bad attitude that links to poor health outcomes is hostility. According to a study published in 2014 in Stroke, people who scored higher on measures of unfriendliness, as well as those with chronic stress and depressive symptoms, had a higher risk of stroke than the friendly participants. Depression and Your Health Additionally, depression can have repercussions far beyond feeling sad or losing your appetite. Some evidence suggests that depression increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart attack, and disability later in life. So, seeking help for depression is important. According to Simon-Thomas, negative thoughts and emotions have widespread effects on bodily processes, like: MetabolismHormone releaseImmune function One theory is that when you're stressed or depressed, levels of the hormone cortisol levels increase. Increased cortisol makes your immune system less able to control inflammation, which could lead to health issues over time. Also, people with depression and stress may be more likely to smoke or drink alcohol or less likely to be physically active. All of those factors can affect your health. Or negative emotions might be an early symptom of a health problem rather than a cause. Therefore, consulting a healthcare provider may be helpful. Good Stress: What Are the Benefits? How To Cope With Negative Thinking By simply changing your perspective, you may just improve your health. "We know that neural pathways are changing every minute of your entire life and that your brain is generating new cells throughout your life," offered Simon-Thomas. "And this neurogenesis is not only associated with the formation of new memories, but with mood stability, as well." So, cynics, take heart. You have control over your attitude and your well-being. "We can be deliberate about shifting our habits of feeling and thinking in the world," added Simon-Thomas. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) recommends self-care activities if you experience mild mental health symptoms that last for less than two weeks, such as: Exercising, like aerobics and yogaEngaging in social contact, either virtual or in-personGetting adequate sleep on a regular scheduleEating healthyTalking to a trusted friend or family memberPracticing meditation, relaxation, and mindfulness When To See a Healthcare Provider You should talk to a healthcare provider if symptoms don't improve or worsen despite self-care efforts. Those symptoms include: Difficulty sleepingAppetite changes that result in unwanted weight changesStruggling to get out of bed in the morning because of your moodDifficulty concentratingLoss of interest in things you usually find enjoyableUnable to perform usual daily functions and responsibilitiesThoughts of death or self-harm A Quick Review Negative emotions, such as anger, fear, and frustration, and negative thinking patterns, such as hostility and cynicism, are normal. But they can become problematic when your negative emotions turn into a habitual outlook on the world. If untreated, heart disease, diabetes, or disability may result. Try shifting your habits of feeling and thinking in the world for a more positive outlook. Consulting a healthcare provider if you recognize the signs of a serious mental health issue may help. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit 8 Sources Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Neuvonen E, Rusanen M, Solomon A, et al. Late-life cynical distrust, risk of incident dementia, and mortality in a population-based cohort. Neurology. 2014;82(24):2205-2212. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000000528 Tyra AT, Brindle RC, Hughes BM, Ginty AT. Cynical hostility relates to a lack of habituation of the cardiovascular response to repeated acute stress. Psychophysiology. 2020;57(12):e13681. doi:10.1111/psyp.13681 Everson-Rose SA, Roetker NS, Lutsey PL, et al. Chronic stress, depressive symptoms, anger, hostility, and risk of stroke and transient ischemic attack in the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis. Stroke. 2014;45(8):2318-2323. doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.114.004815 Sartorius N. Depression and diabetes. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2018;20(1):47-52. doi:10.31887/DCNS.2018.20.1/nsartorius American Heart Association. How does depression affect the heart?. Noh JW, Kwon YD, Park J, Oh IH, Kim J. Relationship between Physical Disability and Depression by Gender: A Panel Regression Model. PLoS One. 2016;11(11):e0166238. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0166238 Liu YZ, Wang YX, Jiang CL. Inflammation: The Common Pathway of Stress-Related Diseases. Front Hum Neurosci. 2017;11:316. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2017.00316 National Institute of Mental Health. My mental health: Do I need help?.