Being heartbroken is something that can happen to anyone. It’s a phase we all go through in life caused by bad relationships. There’s a reason why your body makes you feel queasy after a breakup; draining you mentally and physically. Someone who is heartbroken often feels like a ship with a broken rudder in the middle of the ocean; with no land in sight and no winds to sail you back to shore. Once you are in this phase, it can be very difficult to ease your mind and get some rest. Science finally has some answers for us, as to why we feel this way and what actually happens to our bodies when we have a broken heart.
1. Broken heart can cause you to steadily gain or lose weight.
When a relationship ends in a heartbreak, it can have damaging effects on the person’s body. This is because having someone’s heart broken can cause them to binge-eat or eat nothing. It depends on how the person copes with their sadness. While some use food as a distraction and watch endless stream of movies, others are so racked with anxiety, they can’t even think about eating; becoming one of the unhealthiest diets known to mankind.
2. You are swimming in an ocean filled with stress hormones.
According to WenMD, a calm and stable form of relationship has a lot of health benefits. In relationships where people feel connected, respected and valued by their counterpart, people tend to make fewer trips to the doctors office, and suffer less depression and substance abuse. Women’s Health Magazine explains that a person’s brain is inundated with the neurochemicals dopamine and oxytocin when they are in love. This is what gives a person the warm, fuzzy feeling when they are around their partner. Science also shows that love can be more addicting than drugs.
When a person is heartbroken, all the neirochemicals that makes one feel good about themselves is flushed out of the system. Instead, their body starts making stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine.
An overabundance of cortisol tells your brain to send too much blood to your muscles, causing them to tense up, ostensibly for swift action. But you’re not leaping anywhere, and as a result you’re plagued with swollen muscles; causing headaches, a stiff neck and an awful squeezing sensation in your chest.
3. You start experiencing trouble sleeping.
Heartbreak can be harmful to your sleep cycles. Many people report having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep due to their emotional state. Research shows that a rise in stress level can cause a whole range of problems, especially when it comes to sleep. According to Chris Winter, M.D., sleep specialist, “In the sleep world, stress is to sleep as yin is to yang — opposite forces that are forever linked. Stress prevents sleep. Sleep deprivation increases stress and its consequences.”
The solution? Find ways to reduce stress levels. Lack of sleep due to heartbreak will only increase stress and cause you to experience fatigue. Techniques such as meditation, exercise and even spending time with family members or friends can significantly reduce stress levels.
4. You feel the need to be alone but you’ll need to avoid it.
It’s tough to go through a breakup and the only thing we wish to do is to be all by ourselves, away from everyone. Although we might think that this would be beneficial since it will give us time to cherish those beautiful moments one last time, it affects us adversely; pushing us into a deeper state of depression. Instead, you need to get the dopamine levels up. The best way to do this is to do things you love or things that bring joy in your life.
While it might be hard to get out of bed, while being comfortable and indulging in your Ben & Jerry’s, it’s not what you should be doing. Becoming a hermit crab is only going to prolong and agitate your thought process.
5. It can cause you physical pain.
Heartbreak can cause you a great deal of physical pain. Scientists believe that this is because emotional and physical pain are both processed in the same parts of the brain. So, when you’re going through the painful phase of breaking up with someone you once cared for, it may very well feel like physical pain. Doing physical activities will help release the emotional and physical pain from your system.
6. Your immune system weakens.
Studies show that heartbreaks can gravely affect our immune system. This is mainly due to the increased stress levels which cause your immune system to weaken. You may notice that you are more susceptible to getting a cold or flu while you’re experiencing heartbreak. Fatigue is also a common symptom experienced during this phase. Remedies include taking vitamins and consuming foods that help boost the immune system (not a pint of Ben & Jerry’s).
7. People in love can also experience withdrawals.
Love can be as addicting as drugs. You may have heard of people experiencing withdrawals after cutting drugs off from their system. The same thing happens to those who are addicted to love and suddenly find themselves without it. According to Dr. Karim, who specializes in behavioral addiction at the Control Center in Beverly Hills, “When you do research on behavioral addictions, you find they massage the same neurochemistry as substance addictions. They hijack the limbic system and take over the dopaminergic response. You get euphoric recall, you get withdrawal.” Bottom line: Falling in love affects the brain about the same way as drugs.
8. You’ll wonder who you truly are.
Doctors who specialize in behavioral psychology and addictions say that after a terrible breakup, you can start to question your own identity. Erica Slotter, a psychology Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern University says, “We know that relationships change the way we think about ourselves. When a relationship ends, that sense of self ends.” Thus, the person is forced into a new phase of life where they have to figure out just what kind of person they want to be moving forward.