You cried. You stayed in bed for days. You listened to sad songs. It felt like the world was turned upside down. Our beautiful, sensitive minds become our worst enemy. But did you know your body also changes when your heart breaks?
Love makes you happy. Happiness is represented in the body by hormones like dopamine and oxytocin. But when the heart breaks, those ‘happy hormones’ drop off and are replaced by cortisol and epinephrine which are stress hormones. They turn all that joy into anxiety and stress.
DID YOU KNOW?: When stress hormones linger chronically, the ability to make new memories reduces. Maybe it’s the brain’s way of not remembering whatever caused the stress.
IMMUNE SYSTEM WEAKENED
Those pesky stress hormones also lower your body’s immune system. That means you are more likely to get sick. We are encountering colds, flus and infections constantly, but when we are healthy we fight them off with our immune system. The stress and pain of heartbreak actually causes the body to make fewer white blood cells, which are the body’s soldiers who fight off infection.
DIETARY CHANGE and WEIGHT GAIN
When we are brought low by life, our hormones change, our immune system weakens and we get certain cravings (to try to counteract that chemistry)–usually fats, carbohydrates, salty and sweet things.
The hormone, cortisol, has been associated with increases in belly fat. It is believed that cortisol also triggers those food cravings. Those comfort foods in turn lead to more serotonin production which can counter stress.
If your heart is broken you probably do not have much interest in sexual pleasure. But if you did, or even after you begin to feel better, you might find that interest is difficult to muster. Your body might not be as responsive as you expected. For men, this could result in erectile dysfunction. This dark time might also make premenstrual syndrome worse and even make getting pregnant more difficult.
When those stress hormones increase with heartbreak, it can worsen existing skin conditions. Psoriasis, rosacea or even acne can flare up during this time.
All of these physical signs of a broken heart only serve to make us feel worse, but on the upside, as they get better they can be used as a sign that our heart is getting better too. So even if you are heartbroken right now, the funny thing about hearts is they want to keep beating, and they will, and one day you’ll look back as a stronger healthier you.