Why Do We Experience Physical Pain Post Breakups?

We’ve all experienced insurmountable Physical pain post breakups. It’s that feeling where your heart is shattering (quite literally), while you listen to Adele and Coldplay songs on repeat, finally drowning your sorrows in a tub of Haagen Daz.

via- www.patrickwanis.com

Intense emotional pain is experienced when a person goes through heartbreak. This, in turn, creates stress for the Individual. The body tries various ways to combat such stress, thus causing various physical changes. These changes come in the form of physical pain experienced in many different ways.

via- www.theodysseyonline.com

Looking at the MRI scans of patients undergoing emotional and physical pain It can be observed that the same regions of the brain light up when a person feels either emotional or physical pain. Our body associates the two and causes a similar reaction. The intensity of our emotions causes us physical pain post breakups.

Why is such pain experienced?

via- dummies.com

The part of our brain called Anterior Cingulate Cortex is responsible for our emotional reactions, it is triggered during stress-inducing moments. This causes the heartache to shift from our mind to our body, leading to actual pain. A Naomi Eisenberger, Ph.D. assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, says that this is our brain’s way of transmitting the message to our body that breaking up with a loved one is hurting us physically.

via- schulzmuseum.org

How Does The Body React to a breakup?

  • Imbalance in Hormones– Falling in love causes a rush of Oxytocin and Dopamine. This leads to feelings of pleasure and happiness. Love becomes an addiction. On the other hand, in a breakup neurochemicals like Epinephrine and Cortisol begin flooding the body. These are stress hormones that cause an imbalance leading to a stiff neck, tightness in the chest and migraines.
  • Gain or loss of Appetite– Breakups will either force you to eat your feelings away or starve to death. There is no in between. This shall either lead to an increase in weight, sitting all day by the telly binge eating potato chips and candy. Or a decrease in weight due to the inability to swallow even the most delicious delicacies.
  • Chest pain– It has been observed that a fortnight after a breakup is the most likely time for a heart attack to occur. The body is flooded with stress hormones coupled with the feeling of rejection, which triggers the same nerve impulses associated with pain.
  • Depression– One of the major causes of depression is heartbreak. One of the many triggers of depression is low self-esteem. Rejection from a loved one lowers an Individual’s self-esteem, leading to depression.

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