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Being Depressed & Stressed Out By Your Breakup Is Totally Normal — But Being Obsessed Is Dangerous

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Depression & Stress Are Normal After A Breakup But Being Obsessed With Your Ex & Ruminating Is Dangerous
Heartbreak

It may be fatal.

Your relationship didn’t have the makings of a "happily ever after" and it made you miserable. But, not only do you have depression and stress over the breakup...you’re obsessed.

You know the breakup was for the best. It was only a matter of time. But why can’t you shake it? Why can't you just get over it?

You're going through the stages of a breakup so you expected to be sad, angry, even depressed and stressed out because of your broken heart.

But thinking about your ex constantly? It’s like being haunted with nowhere to hide.

RELATED: Is Heartbreak-Related Depression A Real Thing?

Have you done obsessive things like drive by your ex’s home to see what they are doing or whose car is in the driveway? Or stalked your ex’s social media, looking for signs of both devastation and moving on? Have you called from an untraceable number just to hear their voice?

Do you loathe your ex, but think about them all day long and ruminate yourself to sleep? Does your heart race if you see your ex from a distance or see pictures of your ex with someone else?

Perhaps you even feel physical pain as a result of your breakup. Maybe there’s a constant burning in your chest, a quasi-nausea in your stomach, and a literal pain in your heart. But instead of getting less severe as the weeks go on, it gets worse.

It’s normal to be depressed and stressed when you're getting over a breakup. After all, it's not easy to have your heart broken. And if it was an exclusive relationship, you probably invested everything into it. It’s natural to feel all kinds of emotions in all kinds of ways and at unpredictable times.

It’s not normal, however, to obsess over a breakup.

The neuroscience behind post-breakup obsession is much the same as the neuroscience behind limerence.

The near-debilitating, socially irritating, and hyper-infatuated phase of falling in love can’t last forever. In healthy relationships, it evolves into a companionate love marked by mutual attachment and commitment.

But in cases of obsession — at both the front and back ends of romance — the dopamine center of the brain lights up. Every reminder of the object of affection (or obsession) activates that reward center and creates a euphoria.

RELATED: How To Deal With Depression After Getting Your Heart Broken Into A Million Pieces

Passionate love — both coming and going — is like a drug. And when the need for it continues or intensifies for months or years, the emotional responses are abnormal and detrimental.

Dealing with stress as well as anger, hurt, confusion, and depression while you're getting over an ex is normal.

That’s why Facebook even introduced a "take a break" option in its platform. Social media, especially pictures, can activate that dopamine reward loop, causing a craving and an urge to satisfy it. Sometimes, stepping away from provocation can help the healing process.

The proclivity to obsess over breakups and heartbreak may have its roots in familial history and attachment to caregivers. If you knew how to love and be loved your entire life and had your essential needs met, you had secure attachment bonds.

You were set up to have fulfilling intimate relationships, emotional balance, and healthy self-esteem and self-confidence. You were also primed to rebound and heal more quickly from disappointment and loss.

If you had unhealthy attachment bonds, however, a breakup in adulthood could trigger neglect and abandonment issues from your childhood. Your brain essentially can’t separate your past from your present.

When you're heartbroken, you get thrown into separation anxiety and your obsession becomes a living withdrawal from the ‘drug’ of your now lost love.

If your post-breakup misery is taking on the tone of "Fatal Attraction", it’s time for some intervention. Everyone wants to get out of their pain. But obsession only fuels it and puts you at risk of causing pain to others.

Healthy love carries an awareness of its own intensity when entering and leaving the arena. It also carries an awareness of its limits. Obsession, however, does not.

RELATED: What Happens To Your Brain When You Go Through A Terrible Breakup

Lisa Lieberman-Wang is a relationship expert and creator of the neuroscience Neuro Associative Programming (NAP). If you need help finding your truth and living an authentic life, reach out to her or send her an e-mail.

This article was originally published at Fine to Fab. Reprinted with permission from the author.