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Oct 12, 2018

What Happens To Your Body When You Have A Broken Heart, According To Science

The pain of heartache may not be physical, but it can sure feel like it when you are going through a breakup or the betrayal of a loved one. Heartbreak can happen to anyone. Some people may think it’s all in your head but science says differently now. Let this be a validation of any one of who is experiencing heartbreak.
According to the American Heart Association, broken heart syndrome is when part of your heart is temporarily enlarged so it doesn’t pump well. The rest of your heart functions normally or even has more forceful contractions than usual. If left unchecked, broken heart syndrome can lead to severe short-term muscle failure. Instead of “just getting over it”, science urges that there is actual healing that needs to be done for our well-being.

Five Things That Can Happen to Your Body When Experiencing Heartbreak

1. Your Weight Is Affected

When we are brought low by life, our hormones change, our immune system weakens and we get certain cravings (to try to counteract that chemistry)–usually fats, carbohydrates, salty and sweet things.
The hormone, cortisol, has been associated with increases in belly fat. It is believed that cortisol also triggers those food cravings. Those comfort foods, in turn, lead to more serotonin production which can counter stress.

2. A Broken Heart Causes Depression

This is probably a no-brainer. When a person goes through heartbreak, it feels they are going through a storm in life. They don’t have the same grounding anymore, especially if a relationship ends suddenly.
Science and studies have shown that heartbreak can cause depression. Psychiatric geneticist Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D. talks about how stressful life events predisposed women and men to the onset of episodic depression that is marked by the devaluation of an individual’s core identity. The person feels loss and humiliation.
Allow your friends and loved ones to be part of the healing process, and use your support system to help you get back to your feet.

3. Sleeping Problems

As you can imagine, the pain of heartbreak will be on your mind even when it’s time to go to sleep. There are many people who have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep because of the stress levels that are fresh from your heartbreak.
Sleep specialist Chris Winter, M.D., said sleep and stress are opposite forces. In other words, stress prevents sleep and the more stress you are, the more deprived of sleep you’re likely to be as a consequence. Some ways to reduce your stress while recovering from your heartbreak include engaging in exercise, journaling, and spirituality.

4. Weakened Immune System

Those pesky stress hormones also lower your body’s immune system. That means you are more likely to get sick.
We are encountering colds, cases of flu and infections constantly, but when we are healthy we fight them off with our immune system. The stress and pain of heartbreak actually cause the body to make fewer white blood cells, which are the body’s soldiers who fight off infection.

5. Heartbreak Causes Physical Pain

Science might have a new take on the meaning of love hurts, especially when it comes to heartbreak. Some people will attest to being able to actually feel physical pain. Science actually validates this since scientists believe that emotional and physical pain are actually processed in the same areas of the brain.
Best way to deal with this is to actually find physical activities to cope to release the emotional pain such as exercise. And of course, your support system is invaluable to your healing process.
Felix Elwert, Ph.D. talks about how it broken heart syndrome is shown that when your spouse dies, your mortality rates increase and stay elevated for years. You can almost “catch death“ from your spouse… it seems coincidental but perhaps not. Never undervalue your pain and your negative experiences.

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