Heartache: The Pain is Real
Written by: Seada
Heartbreak is a tough battle to overcome. If hitting the re-start button was easy, the majority would do it quickly. Unfortunately, life does not operate like a remote control. When your heart is aching, your body is in agonizing pain. Some have compared heartache symptoms to heart attack symptoms. So what happens to our body and brain during heartbreak?
Your brain assumes it is under attack.
Going through a break-up can feel like someone has knocked the wind out of you. This is especially true for anyone who has experienced true love. A lot of people deny the existence of true love, but for the hopeless romantics, it is ever living, ever-real, and so is the intensity of the heartbreak. The symptoms of breaking up are not limited to physiological reactions; the pain branches deep into the brain. The flight-fight-freeze mode becomes over-activated, searching for reason behind the chaos for some peace of mind.
The science behind the stress hormones
The experiences of feeling and being in love come from the brain’s chemical messengers, dopamine and oxytocin. These hormones are responsible for making you feel happiness and pleasure. After all, love is said to be more of an addictive than certain drugs! During episodes of heartbreak, those chemical messengers are draining out of your system, leaving you feeling sad, confused, angry, and most commonly, depressed. In an attempt to counteract these feelings, your brain produces excessive cortisol, which tenses your muscles, leaving you with a headache, stiff neck, and a tight sensation in your chest.
Withdrawal from love
How many of us are addicted to coffee? How many have experienced withdrawal from caffeine? When you are a coffee addict cut off from coffee, your body goes into shock mode or withdrawal mode. The same thing happens when you are addicted to love and lose it. Fortunately, the symptoms will eventually subside as you gain understanding and awareness of your past relationship.
Who am I?
After all is said and done in heartbreak, we confront an existential question: Who am I? Being in a relationship for some period of time can often leave you wondering who you are when that person you loved is no longer around. This is a great opportunity to piece together your values, morals, interests, and goals. After all, the biggest mistake we make in relationships is losing ourselves to make the other person happy.
If you are presently going through heartbreak, remember these three things:
I trust I will be okay.
I will learn from my mistakes.
This experience has made me stronger.
And lastly, recognize you can miss and love someone without wanting them back.