How Lying Affects Your Health
Keeping a big secret—like Vince Vaughn’s character does in The Dilemma—can actually take a big toll on you physically.
In The Dilemma (which hit theaters over the weekend), Vince Vaughn’s character is keeping a huge secret from his best friend: his wife is cheating on him. Vaughn’s “dilemma,” of course, is whether or not to tell his buddy. But, he may not know he’s also putting himself in harm’s way by lying to his friend. Guilt is just the beginning.
Along with guilt, people who lie, omit the truth or keep a secret are at risk for some not-so-pleasant health complications. For starters, lying releases stress hormones – the same ones that are triggered in what’s called your “Fight or Flight Response,” according to Saundra Dalton-Smith M.D, author of Set Free to Live Free: Breaking Through the 7 Lies Women Tell Themselves. “This increase in stress hormones causes your heart rate and breathing to increase, digestion to slow down, and hypersensitivity of muscle and nerve fibers,” she says.
These affects may not sound that serious, but over time, they can lead to conditions that no one would want, such as coronary artery disease, stroke, and congestive heart failure. Why? Because blood pressure rises in the heart when you’re lying, “which can be life threatening over a prolonged period of time,” says Dr. Smith. (This is why Polygram or lie detector tests accurately test for lying, because they measure jumps in blood pressure).
It’s highly doubtful that one instance of omitting the truth will give you a stroke, but there’s evidence that the more you lie, the easier it becomes: a recipe for disaster.