When someone has broken your heart, it can seem as though every cell in your body is in mourning. The emotional pain that is brought on by grief combined with the physical pain caused by illness such as depression and cardiomyopathy can be debilitating to those dealing with heartbreak. For those who are suffering but who are in the dark about why your loss is affecting you, here are some ways that heartbreak affects your health.
- Your Risk for Depression Gets Higher
According to a study conducted at the Virginia Commonwealth University, those who have had partners that have broken up with them, have cheated on them, or have hit them are twice as likely to experience depressive episodes and anxiety than those who have experienced a normal loss. This is due to the fact that the person may have a lower self-esteem or feel devalued after a breakup or a destructive relationship.
After a breakup, it’s often easier for us to look back on the failed relationship with nostalgia, remembering the good times we had and dismissing the challenges that led us to break up in the first place. Some couples might often try a brief reconciliation, but this often does not work out and they break up again. — John Sovec, LMFT
- Your Thinking Isn’t As Clear
Heartbreak has the ability to cloud your thinking and create a lack of self-control. One study conducted at Florida State University demonstrated that individuals dealing with social exclusion are less likely to control themselves when it came to choices such as eating healthy foods rather than unhealthy foods or forcing themselves to follow through on a difficult task. Another study conducted at Case Western Reserve University demonstrated that those dealing with social exclusion performed worse on IQ tests than individuals who did not anticipate being socially excluded.
- Love Is Similar to Drugs
The activity in the brain that occurs when an individual view their ex is similar to the brain activity that occurs when a cocaine addict the physical symptoms of withdrawal. Luckily, other parts of the brain also have activity occurring in them when an individual views their ex, specifically the areas that govern behavioral adjustment and future thinking.
- Your Appetite Will Change
Your appetite almost always becomes an issue when you are dealing with emotional pain. Those dealing with heartbreak will either experience a large increase in their appetite or a large decrease in their appetite. This will lead to either noticeable weight gain or weight loss, which should be kept in check due to the other health problems that come along with these weight changes.
- Your Heartbreak Can Affect Your Heart
Heartbreak is an appropriate term for the grief that you experience when you lose a loved one because those who are dealing with heartbreak are more at risk for heart problems. While one well-known side effect of heartbreak known as cardiomyopathy can make it seem as though you are suffering a heart attack, some research has shown that those dealing with heartbreak are more at risk for atrial fibrillation, which can cause you to develop an irregular heartbeat.
- You Will Experience Aches and Pains
When emotional pain is bad enough, the body begins to experience symptoms of physical pain as well. This physical pain can manifest itself in the form of chest pains, tense muscles, stomach aches, body aches, and even headaches. This happens because the section of the brain that deals with painful emotions also deals with physical pain.
Even if our rational brains — and our friends who are getting really tired of hearing the same story again and again — tell us to just let go and move on already, we just cannot stop holding on. Or we keep it together during the daylight hours only to be tossed into the pit of despair as the sun falls below the horizon. —
- You May Experience Hair Loss
Although it may not happen to everyone, hair loss or complete baldness can be a possibility for those suffering from heartbreak. The stress that comes with the loss of a loved one or with any other type of major life change causes something known as telogen effluvium, which triggers hormonal changes that stop hair growth and cause hair follicles to fall out. This will usually occur a couple of months after the initial loss.