The Pain Is Real: 8 Scientific Effects Heartbreak Has On The Body
When your heart is broken, it can feel like the end of the world. No amount of pain has ever felt so agonizing or concentrated. It’s like a giant hole was pummeled into your chest, with no hope of repair.
You cry, you scream, you watch Netflix until you’ve seen every documentary your subscription has to offer and yet nothing seems to smooth your heartbreak or soothe the longing you feel.
True Story: Breakups are a bitch, and heartbreak is a bigger bitch than f*cking karma.
I think I can say with pretty solid confidence, most people would rather get smacked in the face with a metal pole than get their hearts broken. It’s why we try to avoid it.
Our bodies literally repel being dumped because there’s no greater pain than heartbreak. The struggle is just so real, and the risks we take by falling in love are innumerable and terrifying.
The thing is, a breakup is really, really f*cking bad for your health. You might think it’s all in your head, but it’s not. You truly are experiencing an illness.
Here are eight scientific things that happen to your body when you have a broken heart, proving it’s just about the worst thing in world.
Heres A Thing To Remember If Youre Dealing With Depression:
Depression is an unpleasant experience, but it is not always a permanent condition. As long as you know that depression can be temporary and that there are tips for getting back on track, you will be able to overcome the consequences of the breakup with ease. Your emotions are neither right or wrong, they simply exist. Treat yourself as you would treat a friend going through the same life changing event and give yourself time to heal.
Be Wary Of Anger It Can Be A Trap
Often, there are a lot of reasons to be angry after a breakup. You may believe the other person mistreated you and maybe youre right! Maybe he or she didnt give you a fair shot or didnt bother to get to know the real you. Its certainly understandable to feel angry about these things. However, sometimes anger is something we go to in order to escape sadness or to avoid doubts we have about our appeal as a romantic partner.
In a temporary way, anger is effective in distracting you from underlying emotions and doubts. The problem is, if anger leads you to start an argument with the other person, then youll likely end up with more to be angry about , so anger ends up becoming self-perpetuating.
A healthier strategy is often to face those doubts and emotions directly, even if they hurt. There is value in letting yourself feel hurt or sad and experiencing how temporary that can be. If you can learn to address your doubts and tolerate these emotions, anger will often lose its appeal.
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Reach Out To Family Or Friends
If you feel that you are slipping back into a state of depression, reach out to a family member or friend to let them know how you are feeling. Depression can make you want to narrow your social connections, which can make the symptoms of depression worse. Therefore, finding someone you can confide in and who will check up on you can make a difference.
Sadness And Anxiety After Breakup
You and your partner have split now you cant sleep, you cant eat, you dont laugh, you feel upset when other people seem happy around you. Even if the breakup was your decision, the adjustment takes its toll when a relationship ends. A breakup can transform a person who is typically very happy with stable mental health into a depressed, anxious shell of their former selves. If you have an anxiety disorder, a substance abuse issue, or social anxiety, it can be even more difficult to stabilize mental health during this time.
This isnt uncommon even in a healthy split, and it likely isnt the first time its happened to you and, unfortunately, may not be the last. So what are some ways to cope with the anxiety after a breakup? We have our coping mechanisms for those of us who have been here before, but even then, we acknowledge the difficulty thats why we go into auto-pilot.
Risks For Increased Struggle After a Breakup
If you know you already have any of the following mental health issues, take preventive measures immediately to prevent spiraling into anxiety after a breakup.
Signs Youre Struggling After a Breakup
Feeling sad is normal, but how do you know when its too much and need intervention? Look for the following red flags:
Embrace Your Support Network
Ten Tips For Coping With Anxiety After A Breakup
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does anxiety last after a breakup?
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Moving Forward: How To Treat Adjustment Disorders And Depression After A Breakup
The most recent research finds that psychotherapy is the treatment of choice for adjustment disorders, and thats what worked for DePino. Mayo Clinic adds that medication can be helpful in the short-term. For me, medication helped me find some distance from the grief, and get back to my life.
I also did quite a bit of walking in the woods, crying in my car without restraint, and, perhaps all too predictably, I had a fling with a hot mess bartender . But it took so much more than I imagined to feel free again: time, therapy, a two-month stint on antidepressants to cope with the adjustment disorder . In the worst of times, I truly wondered if I would always be battling. I felt like the breakup had cracked me open and poured out a dark part of me that I had never known was there. And for a while, it had. But, while I might always struggle with my anxiety, my mental health crisis was largely situational. Like my psychiatrist had anticipated, it healed over, and wouldnt require long-term treatment.
Overt Versus Covert Narcissistic Abuse
Overt narcissists are easily identifiable because they are loud, incentive, and arrogant. They are oblivious and disregarding the needs of others and are always looking for a compliment from others. Overt narcissists are easily noticed as their behavior is grandiose, and they fill a room with their presence.
On the other hand, covert is much harder to identify as this type of narcissist appears shy and anxious about what others think of them. However, covert narcissists are dangerous because of how they hide their real identity as one who will abuse their children because they crave admiration and importance.
Both types of narcissists form unhealthy relationships, but covert narcissists can commit crimes against their children, including Narcissism and Munchausens Syndrome by Proxy.
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How To Tell If Youre Depressed
Itâs common to feel crummy for a while after a breakup. But major depressive disorder, or clinical depression, is different than normal sadness. Itâs constant, lasts at least 2 weeks, and can affect all aspects of your life. Stressful life events, like a breakup, can trigger depression. But itâs possible to have depression-like symptoms without having a mood disorder. Itâs important to know what symptoms to look for.
To have clinical depression, you need to have several of the following:
- Ongoing sadness or worry
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Helplessness And Toxic Shame
Due to enduring ongoing or repeated abuse, the survivor can develop a sense of hopelessness that nothing will ever be OK. They can feel so profoundly damaged, they see no hope for anything to get better. When faced with long periods of abuse, it does feel like there is no hope of anything changing. And even when the abuse or trauma stops, the survivor can continue on having these deep core level beliefs of hopelessness. This is intensified by the terribly life-impacting symptoms of complex PTSD that keep the survivor stuck with the trauma, with little hope of this easing.
Toxic shame is a common issue survivors of complex trauma endure. Often the perpetrators of the abuse make the survivor feel they deserved it, or they were the reason for it. Often survivors are made to feel they dont deserve to be treated any better.
Sexual abuse can create a whole added layer of toxic shame, which requires very specific and compassionate therapy, if this is accessible. Often, sexual abuse survivors who are repeatedly enduring this heinous abuse can develop feelings of being dirty, damaged and disgusting when their bodies are violated in this way.
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Make Time For Exercise
According to research, exercise boosts the mood just as well as some antidepressant medications, and it can increase your sense of wellbeing. Getting up and moving can, therefore, be an excellent coping strategy for recovering from breakup depression.
In general, taking care of your health and finding opportunities to try new activities and connect with other people are important ways of how to deal with depression after a breakup.
Remember: Everything Is Temporary Including Emotions
Emotions are an important part of what is to be human they help shape our interior lives. They are also temporary! Feelings of rejection are no exception. So remember that given enough time, even feelings of rejection will pass. Change is inevitable.
Mindfulness practice is the best way I know to get better at not getting sucked into emotions like despair, anger, or sadness that sometimes come up around the end of a romantic relationship. Mindfulness practice, done properly, is no small undertaking. It requires real commitment to working with your mind in a certain way, on a daily basis. However, if youre up for the challenge, mindfulness practice can change your life.
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This Story Is Part Of A Group Of Stories Called
First-person essays and interviews with unique perspectives on complicated issues.
Few things knock your emotional world off its axis like a breakup. When my first long-term relationship ended, I woke up for several days in a row not quite remembering that my ex and I had split. This lapse would only last one or two seconds, but each time the reality hit, I switched from my usual cozy contentment to cold, sickening shock all over again.
And I was far from alone in how I reacted to my split. Breakups arent just unpleasant for young adults, they are one of the most common risk factors for clinical depression. My understanding of this topic doesnt come only from my own experience: Im a relationship psychologist, now in my fifth year of doctoral study at Northwestern University. In addition to investigating how people bounce back from breakups, I study how people begin and maintain high-quality relationships.
Since then, Ive been involved in studies looking at whether our bodies provide hidden signals showing when weve moved on from a split, how social loss could affect something as basic as how our DNA expresses itself, and why writing about a divorce could actually keep us stuck.
What Is The Outlook For Depression After A Breakup
Despite the rollercoaster ride of a breakup, its possible to heal and overcome mental anguish. The outlook is positive with treatment, but its important that you dont ignore prolonged negative feelings and sadness. The healing process varies for each person. But with the help of friends, family, and maybe a doctor, you can overcome depression and move on after a relationship ends.
If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person:
- Stay with the person until help arrives.
- Remove any guns, knives, medications, or other things that may cause harm.
- Listen, but dont judge, argue, threaten, or yell.
If you think someone is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline. Try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
People Share How They Coped With Depression After A Breakup
Breakups affect everyone differently. Not everyone bounces back with finesse and a newly optimistic outlook on life. Sometimes its the complete opposite. Sometimes we shut down and close off. Sometimes we have ill-natured thoughts of our ex and of ourselves, or feel hopeless and unworthy of love .
It can be a very dark place, but having faith in our ability to pull ourselves out of depression is a powerful antidote. Is does get better, but it starts with finding love for yourself and being proactive in taking the steps you need to mend. Today weve rounded up some of our favorite stories from people whove fallen to the breaking point and made it back.
Going To Meetups
There were nights I woke up screaming and days where I wished that the plane would crash, that I would die in my sleep, that I would get in a terrible car accidentDepression really is like living under a rock. Everything is dark. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, and it really is a crippling sensation. Sleep is perhaps the only relief, but even thats temporary.
Clarissa shares how she became tired of being depressed and how she used Meet Up to pull herself out of it.
When Im feeling anxious, insecure, and upset, Im experiencing a drop in my brains dopamine and serotonin levels. These drops undermine my feelings of optimism and confidence, and drive me to seek out the false reward of reassurance and closeness with my ex-lover.
Creating A 30-Day Bucket List
Depression After A Painful Breakup And How To Deal
February 12, 2020 by Dr. Paul Greene
Depression after a breakup can be a profoundly painful experience. Read below for tips from a psychologist on how to navigate this struggle.
When does normal sadness after a breakup turn into clinical depression? It would be easy if there were a set number of weeks after which it was abnormal to feel depressed after a breakup. Unfortunately, it doesnt work that way.
How long you feel depressed after a breakup often depends on the length of the relationship. It depends on other factors like the circumstances under which things ended and the meaning youve ascribed to a relationship.
For example, a two-month relationship that you think of as a fun fling will be easier to deal with after it ends than a two-month-long relationship that you pinned all your hopes on. This illustrates an important principle in human psychology: How you think about an event influences how you feel about it. You can use this principle to your advantage after a breakup, we can practice thinking in ways that will helpful.
You might have a lot of thoughts like Ill never meet anyone else! How can you deal with these thoughts? Its not helpful to tell yourself something encouraging that you just dont believe, like, Ill meet someone even better next weekend!
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Post Break Up Depression: Creating The Shift
As of right now, I know that you do not want to remain in this situation with these thoughts and emotions.
Youve got to focus on bringing joy and positivity back to your life and changing the way that you see yourself. People often internalize, and try to take all the blame for the relationship. I want you to remember that relationships are a two way road and both of you are responsible for the breakup.
I often see people doing this as a defense mechanism. They figure that if theyre responsible for all of the problems, then they are in control of fixing all of the problems as well! They then put their ex on a pedestal and view him or her as this perfect being, when in reality no one is perfect.
So, you are in charge of your role in the breakup, yes. But do not take responsibility for your partners actions. What you can do is rectify your bad habits and create inspiration for your ex in a variety of different ways. These are the core elements of getting back together with an ex, and if you would like to dive in a find out more about how to do that, click here!
Keep A Balanced Perspective
Breakups can hurt quite a bit, especially when you didnt want to break up in the first place.
If your partner ended things, thinking of the breakup can intensify feelings of abandonment and rejection. This can, in turn, fuel a cycle of intrusive thoughts and rumination that eventually begins to disrupt your daily life.
Theres also the issue of rejection, which can prompt self-doubt for anyone. Taking on all the blame for the end of your relationship and accepting any flaws your ex pointed out without question can do a lot of damage to self-esteem and self-confidence.
Vilifying your ex and pushing all the blame on them might help you get over them faster but research suggests that this could leave you holding on to negative emotions.
Adopting a more balanced frame of mind, however, can offer a smoother path toward relief.
Breakups often happen in response to several different factors. So, no matter who ended things, theres a decent chance you both contributed.
Acknowledging your own role along with theirs, as well as any external or situational factors involved, can help you look at the breakup more objectively.
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