While a broken heart might not be something that you can see, it does serious damage to us in more ways than we realize. The things that happen to us emotionally have physical effects on us, and the more aware we are of this kind of thing, the better we can work to combat it.
You can actually even die (in extreme cases) from a broken heart, as weird as that might sound. This is known as ‘broken heart syndrome’, it refers to a phenomenon called stress-induced cardiomyopathy. This condition also has several other names, but is actually not something many people know about. While most people won’t face this when going through a broken heart, it is important to be aware of so that you can understand just how severe a broken heart can be.
Broken Heart Syndrome or stress-induced cardiomyopathy was described as follows by Hopskin’s Medicine:
Stress cardiomyopathy, also referred to as “broken heart syndrome,” takotsubo cardiomyopathy, and apical ballooning syndrome, is a condition in which intense emotional or physical stress can cause rapid and severe heart muscle weakness (cardiomyopathy). This potentially life-threatening condition can occur following a variety of emotional stressors such as grief (e.g. death of a loved one), fear, extreme anger, and surprise. It can also occur following numerous physical stressors to the body such as stroke, seizure, difficulty breathing (such as a flare of asthma or emphysema), or significant bleeding.
While the causes of the conditions are different, symptoms of stress cardiomyopathy are often similar to those of a heart attack:
Shortness of breath
Nausea and vomiting
Palpitations (the sensation of the heart-pounding)
Similar to a heart attack, patients with stress cardiomyopathy can present with low blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and even shock. But unlike a heart attack, which kills heart cells, it is believed that stress cardiomyopathy uses adrenaline and other hormones to temporarily stun heart cells. Fortunately, this stunning gets better very quickly, often within just a few days to a few weeks. So even though a person with stress cardiomyopathy can have severe heart muscle weakness at the time of admission to the hospital, the heart completely recovers within a couple of weeks in most cases and there is no permanent damage.
Sure, we might tell other people to try and get over their broken hearts or push them to move on, but the truth is that’s not going to happen until they’re ready. From negatively impacting your mental health to causing physical pain within your body, let’s be honest… Breakups are rough! Below, I am going to go over some of the things that should be considered when it comes to heartbreak as a whole. All of these things happen to our bodies, be it one way or another, have you ever experienced these kinds of effects as the result of a heartbreak?
Here are 6 things that happen to your body when you experience a broken heart:
#1 – Depression
The end of a significant relationship in our lives can result in overwhelming feelings and emotions, leaving us reeling while trying to pick up the pieces of our life and put it all back together as a single person. This is something that some people are able to do more efficiently than others and as a result, many do not understand the overly negative emotions that can come with heartache/heartbreak. For those with a history of mental health problems, or who have other stressful events going on in their life, this can be the tipping point. Being dumped by someone you love can really take a serious toll on your self-esteem and in the end lead to depression, you can click here to learn more about this.
While this one might seem more-so mental than physical, depression can affect huge parts of your life. It can leave you unable to get out of bed, physically aching, or even feeling as if you’ve been ran over by a bus. If you’ve ever experienced depression, you know how truly physical the effects it can have are.
#2 – Physical Pain
If you have ever experienced a difficult breakup, then you know the pain that can take over your entire body. Is this merely an overreaction to the situation, or is there something more happening? Scientists say that the area of the brain responsible for processing emotional pain like rejection is the same area that processes physical pain. For this reason, your brain is actually telling your body that yes, you are feeling physical pain at this time, even if nothing has happened to cause a physical injury.
#3 – Withdrawal
Going through heartache, especially in the form of a breakup can cause you to go through withdrawal similar to that of someone addicted to drugs. While this might sound a bit insane, it seems to be something quite true. Neuroethicist Nicole Vincent told Insight that this happens because of the fact that some of the emotions we’re used to feeling are those associated with rewards. While this one might seem a bit out of place on the list before you, I assure you it’s not. Severe negative emotions like those associated with withdrawal overall can be quite physical.
#4 – Poor Sleeping Habits
Heartbreak can be an incredibly stressful thing, turning everything we knew to be true in our lives upside down. When we are faced with high-stress levels, many people find that it impacts their sleeping habits. Specifically, stress has been linked with difficulty falling asleep or remaining asleep. Lack of sleep actually creates more stress in our lives, creating a vicious cycle. The only way to break free is to lower our stress level, allowing for much-needed rest and relaxation. There are many different options for managing stress levels, including breathing exercises and meditation.
#5 – Weight Loss or Increase
There is no denying the fact that a broken heart triggers some significant emotions, however, the way that you handle these emotions can also have a lasting effect. One of the ways that we cope with overwhelming emotions is through a change in our diet. For some people, this means drowning your feelings in your favorite foods, binge-eating. This will, inevitably, lead to an increase in weight. Meanwhile, others experience appetite loss as a result of these feelings, leading to weight loss over time.
#6 – Poor Immune System
Another result of the increased stress in our lives is a decrease in the function of our immune system. When you are experiencing stress, the body releases a stress hormone, which suppresses the immune system, leaving us susceptible to viruses and bacteria. As a result, those who have experienced a heartbreak may find that they are sick more often, fighting off colds, flu, and other common ailments at least while still suffering/working to heal.