Love can feel like one of the best things in the world... until it stops. When this happens, you
are broken and your body ceases to work at its full capacity. You lose all your inspiration, may find the smallest challenges impossible to do, and may even feel like you will never have a chance at love again. The good news is that there are numerous studies exposing what exactly happens to your mind and body during this phase. With this information, you can gain a good understanding of your mind and be in control of what’s happening to your body. This will help you make practical changes to your daily routine and make the road to recovery as painless as possible.
It is irrelevant whether you dumped someone or they dumped you. We as human beings lean towards a very alike configuration when it comes to losing something close to us, leaving out our own personal views and emotion. Frankly speaking, some breakups will hit harder than others. It's never easy to get over your ex, but a few studies show that our brains will incline to mess with us in some very common or specific ways. In this article, we’ll take a look at the neuroscience behind breaking up. Starting with broken heart syndrome, then your amygdala in your brain, then looking at the hormones cortisol, dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.
Broken Heart Syndrome
Broken Heart Syndrome is a condition also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy.
The American Heart Association have published studies showing that the heart enlarges during the Broken Heart Syndrome and may cause tensed muscle or a muscle that has swollen due to trauma. This unusual enlargement can lead to some more, rather disturbing symptoms.
These extra symptoms of Broken Heart Syndrome include shortness of breath, sudden chest pain, and irregular heartbeat. All these worrying symptoms are also existing in heart diseases such as a heart attack or the onset of a stroke. Yet, a fast ECG test should show the difference. The ECG report will show that the heart is functioning normally for Broken Heart Syndrome even though the symptoms are showing. Another way is by testing the blood which should show negative signs of damage or heart blockage. All these symptoms should subside and you should recover after a few weeks to a month.
The amygdala after a breakup
The amygdala is the oldest, and perhaps the most primal part of our brain. It is the area of the brain responsible for triggering our fight or flight complex.
Even if a breakup is not going to kill us, it is a cause of a lot of stress, and this activates the amygdala to spread all sorts of neurotransmitters and hostile hormones to your body and your brain. This basically overflows your body with anger, rage, anxiety, fear, panic, and any other destructive emotions you can think of. The ending chemical imbalance and hormone in your body and brain will leave you angry, depressed, wasted, and not sensible or logical. The amygdala is one big reason why many feel rejected or depressed and exes end up attacking, stalking and doing other unpleasant actions.
The Cortisol Connection
Cortisol is a hormone that the body discharges during phases of stress. Basically, it is a big player in how the body reacts to stress. During flashes of extreme pressure, it shuts down the pointless functions like the immune system or reproduction to help focus on the source of the stress directly.
A breakup is clearly an awfully stressful state of mind. This is the reason cortisol levels will spike sky high. This unexpected surge in cortisol releases a host of unwanted symptoms like high blood pressure, skin allergies, loss of appetite, weight gain and even hair loss. None of these symptoms will help the real problem happening at this time, and can even make things a lot worse.
The damaging Dopamine
Scientifically, dopamine is the neurotransmitter in your brain that manages pleasure and rewards. Basically, dopamine is what controls your feelings of pleasure and a sense of being rewarded. While that may sound good, the next part is where it starts to get complicated. Dopamine not only helps you recognize situations where you get rewarded and motivates you; it also motivates you to pursue them. In some cases, this is very like the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal.
Dopamine is seen to be very high with people in the midst of withdrawal or addicted to something. It pushes us to seek out the thing that gives us that satisfaction or high, regardless. It’s no wonder there is a lot of dopamine in the brains of people who are crazy in love whether the love is after a breakup or just new. In many ways being in love is like being reliant on a drug. The person you were in a relationship with rewarded you, approved you, and soothed you emotionally.
It’s practically like being hooked on a drug. Yet, when the drug is suddenly gone, the addict goes into withdrawal and begins to compulsively crave for it. It’s similar for the newly broken-hearted. If you are just suffering a breakup, your mind is still very hooked to the highs your ex once delivered for you and will seek you to find him or her, no matter how inappropriate or unpleasant it could be.
The emotional stimulation that one gets from calling, stalking or seeing photos of your partner when you were together is due to the release of Norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is a chemical that is synthesized from dopamine and is the hormone that makes you stay alerted and stimulated.
Hailan Hu and his colleagues ran tests on mice that had rather enlightening results in Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. They found that emotional stress and norepinephrine can undeniably fortify memory in mice as human brains and mice brains share many of the same areas. In simpler words, it was found that the hormone Norepinephrine handles increased memory for new stimuli.
What this means is that you have formed a means to get your fix, and your body has formed a means to “remember” how you got your fix.
The shattering Serotonin
Serotonin is a hormone that is responsible for stopping the obsessive compulsive behavior and stabilizing mood. While all the other hormones skyrocket, serotonin drops to dangerously low levels during a breakup. This isn’t ideal as this hormone is responsible for keeping you balanced and calm.
Blend this with the brief high you get from dopamine, and the extra memory you established in response to the stimuli, and it is clear to see why you can’t halt yourself from returning to get your fix, again and again, leading to this almost obsessive compulsive behavior.
After some time serotonin levels go back up to their normal levels, and the symptoms of this obsessive compulsive behavior subside. Thankfully!
In the end, you need to remember that you are not the first to go through a breakup. You will move on. You will succeed in finding the partner you deserve so be good to yourself. Do take care of yourself, and before you know it, you will be in another relationship debating over who's turn it is to do the dishes.