How heartbreak affects your actual health

We read a lot about the biological basis of love but little do we know that heartbreak can equally affect the human body in a variety of ways.

A number of studies have shown that passionate love stimulates areas of the brain similar to those activated by substance abuse. If we were to follow through in the same logic, then heartbreak would be somewhat similar to withdrawal symptoms in intensity. This is just to give you an idea about how harsh things can get.

Your brain thinks you're in physical pain. After a experiencing social rejection, areas of the brain that support the sensory components of physical pain such as the secondary somatosensory cortex become active, leading to an overlap in the brain’s activity. It feels as if your brain is constantly telling your body that you’re in physical pain when in reality nothing has been done to you physically.

Stress hormones take over. Following an upsetting experience, your brain releases a number of stress hormones including cortisol and epinephrine to help your body react to dangerous situations. But given that heartbreak is a long-term trauma, these hormones will eventually pile up, causing your muscles to stiffen and thus leading to headache, potential neck stiffness and chest pain.

Your system becomes more vulnerable to bacteria and viruses. The overabundance of stress hormones can equally hinder your immune system, thus making you more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria. Yes, post-breakup cold is a thing.

Breakup cramps may occur. Having a sensitive stomach makes you prone to stomach cramps and diarrhea. Stress hormones may also drive blood away from the digestive track, leading to an unpleasant sensation in the GI tract.

Your body weight fluctuates. People are susceptible to experiencing appetite changes after a breakup, ranging from binge-eating to simply not eating anything. Some might gain a few pounds as a result of using food as a distraction while others may start finding food unpleasant, paving the way for post-breakup weight loss.

Broken heart syndrome? Scientific research has detected significant differences between genders when it comes to matters of the heart. The "broken heart syndrome," formally known as Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy, is a heart condition that "occurs almost exclusively in women," according to the Harvard Health Publications website, and is typically characterized by chest pain, ballooning and movement irregularities in the left ventricle and electrocardiogram abnormalities similar to those of a heart attack.

The disease was first described in Japan back in 1990 and can be linked to a number of stressors including intense arguments and unexpected loss, both of which likely to be involved in a breakup. And although there are few scientific guidelines regarding the treatment of Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy, it is essential to work on alleviating any emotional stress that could've been at the origin of this heart dysfunction.

Cover credit: Inquisitr