Sex & Life
Sex & Life July 6, 2017
Five physical symptoms of a broken heart.
Everyone remembers their first real heartbreak.
Its emotional symptoms can manifest themselves in simply bizarre ways: you listen to Adele songs on loop, you suddenly know the lyrics to “I Will Survive” by heart and you watch “The Notebook” so many times you lose count.
But what about the physical symptoms? Surely the stabbing feeling in your chest has to have some effect on your body. Well, according to science, it does.
Here are five heartbreaking symptoms you will inevitably experience.
You know that vacuum-inside-your-chest feeling? Well, we have good and bad news: It’s literally all inside your brain. “The region of it that lights up when you’re in physical agony also goes haywire when you suffer social rejection,” Naimo Eisenberger, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Los Angeles, told Women’s Health.
Yeah, your brain is not a team player during a breakup.
You may have heard that stress severely compromises your immune system. Guess what comes with a broken heart? A bucketload of stress hormones! Heartbreak makes you much more susceptible to bacteria, viruses and a whole goody bag of other fun illnesses.
Doesn’t that sound fun?
Heartbreak is similar to any other whopping amount of stress you go through. So however you react to stress about finals, work or public speaking, expect your body to react in similar ways to heartbreak.
Laura Miller, the director of women’s mental health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, elaborated on this idea to Women’s Health: “If you have a sensitive stomach, you could be prone to breakup cramps, appetite loss or diarrhea.”
As if the loss and rejection weren’t enough, you can add a handful of bathroom trips to the mix. Lovely.
You know that disorienting, “Oh my gosh, I’m gonna die” feeling you get during an almost-crash on the freeway? That feeling is caused by cortisol, a hormone that your brain pumps out like crazy when you’re in emotional or physical danger. It basically feeds tons of energy to your muscles so you can make quick decisions or physical actions.
However, you’re not exactly doing parkour when you’re going through heartbreak. So basically your body becomes overloaded with cortisol and your muscles can get stiff and achey. Isn’t misery the best?
Heartbreak is classified as an intense form of grief, and both heartbreak and grief are types of stress. The aforementioned cortisol causes your arteries to constrict, which raises your blood pressure. If the grief is persistent, your blood pressure can remain at higher levels than normal.
No one needs extra convincing that heartbreak is awful — but perhaps this gives some comfort to those dealing with the condition. If you know someone who is going through heartbreak, don’t let them isolate themselves.
Spending time with friends can help to distract from the stress-causing monster that is heartbreak, and in time, they will stop listening to that Alanis Morissette album on repeat. Maybe.
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