Ahh, the joys of falling in love. It really is like looking at the world through rose tinted glasses. As your dopamine receptors fire with every received text, smile and gentle touch, you feel as though you’re on top of the world– until that love is suddenly and unexpectedly taken away. As amazing as it is to fall in love, falling out of love results in equally extreme feelings of discomfort.
Now research shows that when we experience heartbreak it’s not all in the head (or, the heart). Our entire body experiences and responds to the loss of a partner.
“In the moments after being blindsided by a breakup, your heart rate might drop, suggests research in Psychological Science that looked at people’s heart rates following a social rejection they didn’t see coming (researchers we spoke with said romantic rejection can definitely be considered a form of social rejection).
Once the shock subsides, major emotional stress sets in (What did I do wrong? Am I going to be alone forever? Is it time to start adopting cats?). That stress can ramp up your sympathetic nervous system, which also leads to rising cortisol and inflammation levels. Your sleep, digestion and immunity might also suffer (you’re up all night, have no appetite and seem to be catching a cold every other day).”
Or, maybe you find yourself compulsively scrolling through your partner’s Instagram Feed or Facebook Pages. Don’t worry, this is totally normal. “The areas of your brain that show increased activity when you’re high or craving a drug light up in response to the image of that special someone, found research in the Journal of Neurophysiology, meaning you’re still powerfully drawn to them. What it also says in that moment is, your brain still thinks you’re happily in love.