Do you know that numerous love songs were composed after breakups? These songs serve as memory links to what were once wonderful love stories.
But nothing in this world is permanent – except change. Personally, I find this hard to accept, but it’s the truth and you must learn to accept whatever changes that come into your life too – such as a breakup.
What Happens Right after a Breakup?
Hence, when the person you loved most declares bluntly that he/she is breaking up with you; that would be devastating, but you have to carry on. It would seem to you that your world has crumbled. You feel that your heart has broken into smithereens and you go around in a daze, unable to eat, sleep and focus. You feel all these depressing occurrences, and you’re wondering whether you would ever get over someone you have dearly cherished.
In the meantime, the wound in your heart festers and your body reacts to your emotional pain. If you don’t recover swiftly from your broken heart, your body would follow suit, deteriorating slowly as you wallow in your heartache. You must know what happens to your body after a breakup. This way, you would know what to do to get over the breakup quickly.
Read also: The Ultimate Guide to Get Over a Breakup
What happens to your body after a breakup?
The physical pains that you undergo after a breakup are real. Hence, if you still haven’t experienced a breakup, don’t disregard a friend or a family member, who complains of chest pain or dyspnea. You have to take him to the ER – if the pain worsens or persists. To prove this point, here are studies that established the connection between breakups and physical pain.
#1 – Findings of a review conducted by Dr. Tiffany Field of the University of Miami School of Medicine, Florida, the USA in November 2017, entitled: “Romantic Breakup Distress, Betrayal and Heartbreak: A Review”.
Dr. Field was able to establish that heartbreak or Broken Heart Syndrome can be caused by rejection, betrayal, and depression. Your immune system is also compromised because of the hormones, cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine. These hormones increase inflammatory cytokines and decrease the number of natural killer cells.
According to the review, “fMRIs reveal increased activity in the cingulate cortex and the right prefrontal ventricular cortex. These data highlight the complexity of breakup distress, rejection, betrayal and heartbreak.”
These are astounding findings. If you draw your own conclusion, it means that you can easily contract any kind of disease when you’re heartbroken because your body’s immune system is impaired. You’re left with no natural defenses. Thus, you should stay away from hospitals and sick persons when you’re heartbroken.
#2 – Findings of a study conducted by Dr. Alan Kim Johnson et al of the Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, USA in November 2006, entitled: “Sadness and Broken Hearts: Neurohumoral Mechanisms and Co-Morbidity of Ischemic Heart Disease and Psychological Depression”
Dr. Johnson et al concluded that “heart failure and depression co-occur with a much greater frequency than would be anticipated on a statistical basis”.
They went on to state that heart failure and depression activate the “stress hormones”, namely: the adrenal hormones (epinephrine and norepinephrine), glucocorticoids (cortisol) and mineralocorticoids (aldosterone) and their precursors Cortisol Releasing Factor (CRF), renin-angiotensin, Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH) and inflammatory cytokines.
I know these are all meaningless lingo to non-medical persons. Simply put, the secretion of specific hormones becomes elevated when you’re depressed due to a breakup. These hormones initiate the physiological processes in your body that result to the various symptoms that you experience. Thus, there are, indeed, significant reactions that occur after a breakup.
Other Symptoms of a Broken Heart Due to a Breakup
Here are other occurrences that can happen to your body. Be aware of them, so you would know what to expect.
Several studies have proven that depression is the primary symptom of breakup distress. This, in turn, leads to a myriad of secondary effects, such as sleep disturbances, mood swings, and difficulty in focusing. Insomnia can also result to headaches, listlessness, decreased cognitive function and other mental activities.
According to a series of studies done by Eisenberger N, Lieberman M, Williams K, there are changes that take place in the brain due to a breakup. Also, your brain’s ability to focus is altered, and you go into depression. They also found out that social and physical pains have the same neural pathway. This means that you would be experiencing the same symptoms.
Angina (Chest Pain) is one of the symptoms of a broken heart. This occurs when “emergency hormones”, epinephrine and cortisol are increased in secretion in the adrenal glands and released into the bloodstream. The neural pathway of a broken heart is the same as that of cocaine withdrawal, such as anxiety, bouts of weeping, depression, irritability and loss of appetite.
Hence, the effects of a broken heart and cocaine withdrawal are similar. That’s why some people call “love” a drug because it can become addictive like cocaine. In addition, chest pain can actually lead to a heart attack. The differences are that there are no clogged arteries, pathological causes and elevation of the cardiac enzymes, CK, AST and LDH, in cases of heartbreak.
The acute chest pain you could suffer is also called “cardiomyopathy”, or “Broken Heart Syndrome”. The recovery is faster with this type of condition than those with genuine pathological heart diseases.
- Increased blood pressure
Various studies revealed that breakups make the person feel rejected. The feeling of rejection causes elevated blood pressure. This is because of the increased release of the stress hormones in your body.
It’s natural that when you’re heartbroken, you feel anxious. When you’re anxious, you can experience hyperventilation, increased heart and pulse rate, and sometimes dyspnea.
At times, the anxiety becomes irrational and you go into avoidance; just like when you totally avoid socializing because of the fear of encountering your ex. Anxiety also causes reduced vagal activity or emotional arousal. This is the ‘gut feeling” that you often experience.
These facts were established by researchers, Dr. Thomas W. Frazier et al, in their study, “Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia as an Index of Emotional Response in Young Adults”.
These are the proven occurrences that happen to your body after a breakup. The crucial fact to remember is that the root cause of all these illnesses is emotional and not pathological. You can quickly recover from your depression, anxiety, and sorrow caused by your breakup by harboring positive thoughts instead of negative ones.
These would create positive emotions that would stop the stress hormones from elevating. Your heartbroken symptoms would then disappear. Here are simple ways to do it:
- Love yourself
- Believe that your true partner has yet to come
- Every day, psyche yourself with positive thoughts
- Engage in fruitful activities
Since the symptoms are caused by emotions, the remedy must also be an emotional one. By changing your thoughts, you are also changing the way you feel. It’s a simple method; nevertheless, I know it’s a tall order. But with constant practice, I know you can do it.
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