Hope everyone had a great spring break. I'm really glad to be back and active on here! If you have forgotten or need a quick reminder of my inquiry's topic question, it is:
"What is the science behind heartbreak?"
In my two previous rounds, I discovered and discussed on what heartbreak primarily is, why it happens to all of us and how it affects our body physically. In this round, I will be going over the following points:
- Emotional Pain vs Physical Pain --> How is heartbreak related to physical pain? What is the significance behind it?
- How are intrusive thoughts related? What are they?
- The symptoms of withdrawal, how can the feeling of heartbreak be related to drug withdrawal?
Let's get started!
Emotional Pain vs Physical Pain
How is heartbreak related to physical pain? What is the significance behind it?
(1) Studies show that the average human brain registers the emotional pain of heartbreak (discussed in previous rounds) in the same way as physical pain. This explains why someone could feel unbearable amounts of pain after they have felt various symptoms associated with "heartbreak" such as betrayal or feeling miserable.
Because of the hormones our brain releases when becoming attached to someone or something, the term love is often referred as addictive. We crave the natural positive hormones this sensation induces, such as joy or feelings of ecstatic relief. In particular, hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin make us want to repeat behaviors, and are released at elevated levels of relationships.
When the event of heartbreak takes place, these hormones levels drop and are replaced with the stress hormone cortisol. (2) Cortisol works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood, motivation, and fear. Think of it as nature's built-in system!
(1) However, too much cortisol over a period of time can contribute to anxiety, nausea, acne and weight gain.
Examples of physical effects caused by heartbreak
(3) Examples of physical effects and symptoms caused by this hormonal drop include chest pain. This is a common physical response to intense stress or emotions . Another effect can be weight fluctuation, depending on how individuals cope with eating habits in a stressful period of time. Some may eat to calm themselves down, while others find food indigestible and form digestive issues. Other examples include problems falling asleep, stomach pains and weakness. Again, all of these physical symptoms are connected to how our brain mentally copes with these unwell feelings.
How are intrusive thoughts related? What are they?
(4) Intrusive thoughts can be defined as unwanted thoughts or images that one finds distressing and/ or disturbing. Intrusive thoughts can also result in compulsions, which are actions one takes to help cope with a thought. But, how are they related to heartbreak?
(5) When our brain is going through the mental hurting of heartbreak, our brain will generate thoughts of the loved individual or object, that invade our thoughts without warning. Examples may be a mental image of the person, a memory, a snippet of conversation, or some other form of reminder. Each time we have an intrusive thoughts, it metaphorically "opens our wound", which reactivates our emotional and physical pain. It also triggers our withdrawal symptoms.
Scientifically proven, intrusive thoughts can invade our mental thinking dozens of times in an hour. How it is a form of pushing us back from coping and healing, it is clear why so many people struggle to recover.
How can the feeling of heartbreak be related to drug withdrawal?
(5) As I mentioned previously, intrusive thoughts can open connections of withdrawal symptoms. Fmri (functional magnetic resonance imaging) studies have found that heartbreak activates the same mechanisms in the brain that get activated when addicts are withdrawing from drug substances, such as cocaine. Because of this, these powerful withdrawal symptoms from the loss of love will impact our ability to think, focus and function. (6) Just like drugs of abuse, any form of love begins with euphoria and ends with craving.
In the photo above, a brain in love and brain affected by drugs are compared.
And that's all for this round of research! In my next and final round, I will be researching about the science behind the healing of heartbreak. I will be going in depth of what a broken heart teaches you mentally and emotionally. I will also explain if we risk hurt to love and it's concept. Finally, I will be discussing how heartbreak motivate one to pursue happiness in the future.
Lists of sources used in numerical order:
1 - https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-alerts/news/science-behind-a-broken-heart \
2 - https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-g...s/what-is-cortisol#1
3 - https://askdrnandi.com/heartbreak-affects-your-body/
4 - https://moodsmith.com/intrusive-thoughts/
5 - https://www.psychologytoday.co...k-impacts-your-brain
6 - https://www.thecut.com/2017/02...ped-feel-so-bad.html
Sources of photos used:
If you have any suggestions or ideas, please feel free to comment! Comments are always welcome
See you guys in my next post!