Most of us see the connection between social and physical pain as a figurative one. At the same time, life often presents a compelling argument that the two types of pain share a common source. A few years ago a group of doctors at Johns Hopkins University reported a rare but lethal heart condition caused by acute emotional distress.
Researchers have discovered that your brain processes emotional upset with the same brain circuitry that processes physical injury. In a review of current research around this subjectEisenberg suggests that it is because in our tribal days we needed to be part of a group to survive. In fact our ability to constantly relive pain from social experiences might mean that we end up with more pain from things like breakups or rejection than if we actually had a physical injury.
So if thoughts in our head can cause us to feel love, then thoughts in our head can cause us to feel pain as well. Instead of figuring out how to rewire our brains to meet the needs of modern love and heartbreak, we continue to react to it the way we would a dangerous saber-toothed tiger from long ago: we run from it.
We fear it. Our brains perceive a break-up the same way as a tiger trying to eat us in the jungle. Our brain just wants to get away from that pain as quickly as possible. Love physically hurts because our bodies release hormones and endorphins to protect us from the perceived threat.
That threat lingers in our mind for days, weeks, months and even years in some cases. Forget the naysayers who warn you never to get back with your ex.
Why does love hurt so much? everything you need to know
Or those who say your only option is to move on with your life. If you want some help with this, then relationship expert Brad Browning is the guy I always recommend. If you really want your ex back, this video will help you do this. The sadness you experience after a break up can feel like the worst set of emotions you ever have to deal with in your life, paralleled only by the tragic death of a family member or loved one.
It is not only a rejection of your companionship but a rejection of your efforts and perceived personal potential. It is a kind of social rejection unlike any other.
It turns out that the way we deal with the loss of a long-term relationship is similar to how we deal with the death of a loved one, according to mental health experts. The symptoms of both relationship depression and death grieving overlap, caused by the loss of someone we have learned to depend on in our lives, emotionally or otherwise. However, the loss of a romantic relationship affects us even more deeply than the death of a loved one, because the circumstances are a result of our own self rather than an accident or event that we could not prevent.
A break up is a negative reflection of our self-worth, shaking the foundations on which your ego is built. The break up is much more than just the loss of the person you loved, but the loss of the person you imagined yourself as while you were with them. Appetite loss. Swollen muscles.
Stiff necks. But why do we feel physical pain when we lose something that should just cause emotional distress? After all, pain in general — whether emotional or physical — is a product of the brain, meaning if the brain is triggered in the right way, physical pain can manifest from emotional grief.
Here are the neurological and chemical explanations behind your not-so-imagined post-breakup physical pain:. While cortisol explains the everyday physical pangs and pains you feel after a breakup, there is an addictive element behind the perceived post-breakup physical pain. Researchers have found that an individual experiences relief from any ongoing physical pain when they hold hands with a loved one, and we can become addicted to this dopamine-fueled pain relief.
This addiction le to physical pain occurring when we think of our partner shortly after a breakup, as the brain desires the release of dopamine but experiences stress hormone release instead. In one study, it was found that when participants were shown pictures of their exes, the parts of their brain predominantly linked with physical pain were ificantly simulated.
In fact, the physical pain after a break up is so real that many researchers now recommend taking Tylenol to alleviate post-breakup depression.
More in life
Reward Addiction: As we discussed above, the mind becomes addicted to the satisfaction during a relationship, and the loss of the relationship le to a kind of withdrawal. In one study involving brain scan studies on participants in romantic relationships, it was found that they had increased activity in the parts of the brain most associated with rewards and expectations, the ventral tegmental area and the caudate nucleus.
While being with your partner stimulates these reward systems, the loss of your partner le to a brain that is expecting the stimulation but no longer receives it. This le to the brain experiencing delayed grief, as it has to relearn how to function properly without the reward stimulation. Your friends and family show you all their flaws, but your brain is simply unable to process these flaws or add them up when weighing their character.
Researchers theorize that the purpose of this love blindness is to encourage reproduction, as studies have found that it generally wanes after a period of 18 months. This is why you might still find yourself hopelessly head over heels with your ex long after you have broken up with them. Evolutionary Pain: Much of the nuances of our modern behavior can be traced back to evolutionary developments, and the heartache after a break up is no different.
A break up causes an overwhelming sense of loneliness, anxiety, and danger, no matter how much support you might actually have from your environment and personal community. Some psychologists believe this has something to do with our primordial memories, or sensations ingrained in us after thousands of years of evolution. While losing your partner matters very little to your well-being in modern society, the loss of a mate was a much bigger deal in pre-modern societies, leading to the loss of status or place in your tribe or community.
One which not only causes so many unhappy relationships, but also poisons you into living a life devoid of optimism and personal independence.
Why can love be so painful? 6 ways to heal and move on
The video is a wonderful resource to help you recover from heart break and confidently move on with your life. One thing is for sure, the thoughts we have create the feelings we experience in this life. Whether you buy into the woo-woo of creating your own reality or not, the thoughts you have do bring about feelings inside you. If you tell yourself that your heartbreak is like being hit by a bus, your brain can conjure up that image and release chemicals into your body that make you feel physical pain.
They feel like their life is over and the physical pain of heartbreak, although disputed, is very real for many people. But if you are tied to this person emotionally and have a lot invested in who you are as a person, it will feel like you are literally dying if they walk out on you. The brain focuses on what you tell it to focus on. It just needs to focus on something so try to make it focus on the good outcomes of these bad situations instead of focusing on how much your chest hurts because your boyfriend said goodbye.
Focusing on what you can do now, instead of focusing on the past will help you to overcome those feelings of defeat and anguish. Those are powerful words, but they are commonly used when heartbreak occurs. If we wanted to have a different outcome, we would.
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So when there are no tigers to be seen, someone needs to take its place. Heartbreak, for many, is the next best thing. But a different thought, action or idea could change all of that. When was the last time you saw a tiger roaming around anyway? Do you ever stop to think about how amazing it is that your heart is beating, your eyes are blinking, and your lungs are bringing air into your body so you can be alive long enough to read this?
Our ability to see, hear, learn, speak, read, dance, laugh, plan, and act of our own volition is a wonderous thing. When pain strikes, it stops us in our tracks. As humans, we have mastered the art of getting over physical pain. We have treatments and medical interventions to improve our quality of life when we break a leg or have a headache. We can go to therapy to learn how to talk again after a stroke. The physical pain subsides. It often has to do with our early experiences in life, being let down, abused, abandoned or excluded by friends and family.
Romantic love can cause people to do outlandish things when it goes away.
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We are not good at repairing them. And when you find yourself swirling over a break-up, it can feel like your entire world is falling apart. These kinds of messages leave us reeling and wondering about our own worth when things go south in our love lives.
It can be so disorienting that we experience physical pain from the act of avoiding decision-making. Many people feel pain in their stomach, back, legs, head, and chest. Anxiety, depression and thoughts of hurting oneself can all be present when physical pain is a result of emotional distress. Think about the last relationship that ended for you: how did your body react? Did your knees hit the floor? Did you cry? Did you get physically ill and vomit?
Did you sleep it off for days in bed and ignore the problem? Our bodies are hardwired to just react. In some cases, extreme cases, people may experience nerve pain and ghost pains as a result of heartbreak. Our bodies can become so stressed out because of our thoughts that it starts going into reaction mode and causing many other problems.