How Breaking Up With Someone You Love Wreaks Havoc On Your Health, According To Science

Photo: Unsplash: Timothy Paul Smith
5 Scientifically Proven Physical & Mental Health Risks Of Breaking Up With Someone You Love
Heartbreak

Better to be well-informed in advance.

If you've ever gone through a breakup you may have experienced what seemed like physical side effects from your broken heart, and wondered how that could even be possible.

The first time I personally experienced breaking up with someone I still loved, I remember waking up the next morning feeling like I had been hit by a large and very angry truck.

My body was sore all over from my emotional reeling.

There's a reason so many people avoid breaking up with their boyfriend or girlfriend for as long as they do, after all. It's not necessarily that we're conflict avoidant, but rather that we know from our past experiences that breakups come with painful consequences and side effects for everyone involved. 

 

RELATED: How The Science Of Broken Heart Syndrome Can Help You Survive Your Worst Breakup

 

When your heart is freshly broken, it can be all too easy to feel like you're going crazy. And while understanding what can actually happen to your body as you go through the mourning and healing process may not magically make things all better, it might help you get a better grip on yourself and guide you toward taking the best care of yourself possible during this time.

Most people don't enjoy sitting with their bad feelings. Being unhappy and heartbroken feels miserable, even if ending the relationship was the right thing to do. But don't dismiss your feelings, because it turns out some of those physical side effects may not be "all in your head." 

Here are 5 scientifically proven ways break ups can be truly bad for your health.

1. Your heart may actually break. 

According to the Mayo Clinic in Chicago, broken heart syndrome, also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy, is a legitimate health condition that occurs when part of the heart temporarily enlarges and fails to pump blood well while the rest of the heart functions as it usually does, or with more forceful contractions. 

According to the American Heart Association, this condition is most likely caused by "the reaction to a surge of stress hormones."

Additionally, they say, "Broken heart syndrome may be misdiagnosed as a heart attack because the symptoms and test results are similar... But unlike a heart attack, there’s no evidence of blocked heart arteries in broken heart syndrome."

While this syndrome can be fatal, most people recover quickly and without long-lasting effects.

 

2. Your brain may go through a chemical "withdrawal." 

According to an article in Scientific American

"In one study, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher of Rutgers University recruited brave participants who held still in a functional MRI scanner while they looked at pictures of the person who had recently dumped them. These participants exhibited increased brain activity in several regions associated with reward, motivation, addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder, which helps to explain why you might struggle to let go after a romantic relationship ends."

 

RELATED: Men And Women Handle Breakups Way Differently, Says Study

 

3. You may experience situational depression.

It makes sense: you're in a deeply depressing situation, after all! Your brain temporarily produces less serotonin, which acts as a mood stabilizer, and more cortisol, a stress hormone. This combo sometimes to leads to what's know as situational depression, "a short-term, stress-related type of depression."

Symptoms may include: sadness, hopelessness, lack of enjoyment in normal activities, regular crying, constant worrying or feeling anxious or stressed out, sleeping difficulties, disinterest in food, trouble focusing, trouble carrying out daily activities, feeling overwhelmed, avoiding social situations and interaction, not taking care of important matters like paying your bills or going to work, and even thoughts or attempts at suicide. 

Luckily, there are many options for getting help. You can get your body producing more serotonin by doing stuff like exercise and eating dark chocolate.

Boom! Delicious and restorative. 

 

4. Your blood pressure might rise. 

In a study conducted by a team at the University of Arizona, 138 newly divorced or separated men and women were asked questions about their sleep patterns.

According to The Daily Mail

"Their blood pressure was also taken three times over seven and a half months. Those people who regularly had trouble sleeping saw their blood pressure increase a few months later. Kendra Krietsch, the study’s project manager, said: ‘If somebody is going through a divorce and unable to sleep, they really need to get some help or it could lead to problems.'"

 

5. Your skin might break out. 

When you break up with someone, don't be surprised if your skin starts breaking out like never before. I don't care how designer your skincare regime may be, our dear friend cortisol, the stress hormone, wreaks havoc on your endocrine system, which in turn can lead to serious acne and oily or extra-dry skin.

There's nothing worse than looking exactly the way you feel, so the next time you're in this position, don't forget to pay extra attention to what your skin and your whole self needs in order to feel as healthy and cared for as possible! 

 

RELATED: 5 Ways Strong, Brave Women Move On From Getting Dumped

 

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the love and dating advice show, Becca After Dark on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:15 pm Eastern. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.

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