It’s not just an emotional shift.
You cried, stayed in bed for days and listened to sad songs. You felt like the world had 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 represents itself in the body through hormones like dopamine and oxytocin. But when the heart breaks, cortisol and epinephrine—your ‘stress hormones’—replace those ‘happy hormones’, turning 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 weakens
Those pesky stress hormones also lower your body’s immune system. That means you are more likely to get sick.
We are encountering colds, cases of flu and infections constantly, but when we are healthy we fight them off with our immune system. The stress and pain of heartbreak actually cause 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 you’re heartbroken, 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.
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.