10 Ways Heartbreak Affects You Physically — It’s Not All In Your Head!

Having your heart broken sucks, simply put. Not only can it be emotionally devastating, but it can also translate to physical pain. It’s not just in your head — it’s been scientifically proven over the years that heartbreak affects you physically in some pretty serious ways. Here are some of the side effects you might experience after a breakup.

  1. Your brain thinks it’s physically hurt. Rejection, emotional and physical pain are all processed in the same area of the brain. This means the part that lights up when you’re physically hurt also lights up when you suffer rejection. There was an experiment that showed people pictures and when their exes appeared, that specific area of the brain would light up and tell the body it was experiencing pain. Although nothing was physically done, your brain is telling your body the pain is real. Experts agree the physical pain felt is real, they just aren’t sure why it happens.
  2. Specific body parts can go haywire. You may feel muscle spasms or tightness and headaches. Your stomach may hurt or you may feel like the wind is knocked out of you. You may even experience intense or sharp chest pain. The physical effects of heartbreak are real, but I personally hate the ones that affect my beauty the most. Skin: Stress aggravates the skin and triggers changes. Skin issues flare up regardless of what you’re prone to. You can develop acne or even eczema or psoriasis. You can also become dehydrated easier which leaves your skin flaky and dry. Rashes and hives could also appear since stress causes an imbalance your gut with bad bacteria outweighing the good. Eyes: We cry, get ourselves together, hear another song and cry some more. By the time you know it, mascara down your face isn’t the only problem. Emotional tears are more watery and contain less salt which makes your eyes look puffy. 
  3. You become susceptible to digestive issues and other illnesses. When someone says they feel knots in their stomach, they may really feel knots in their stomach. Stress moves the blood, which can lead to stomach pain, diarrhea, or constipation. Indigestion, nausea, or cramps could just be symptoms of a broken heart. Stress hormones can also leave you with a sensitive immune system making you more vulnerable to bacteria and viruses (meaning it is much easier to get sick). Depending on how you handle grief, you may want to watch for anxiety or depression. 
  4. You lose weight. You just aren’t hungry. When you do eat, you can’t keep the food down or it has no taste. Your suppressed appetite is from the hormones surging through your body. You’re under so much stress that our cortisol levels rise which affects your appetite. You’re anxious and food seems indigestible and unenjoyable, but remember, your body needs food to fuel itself.
  5. You gain weight. Whether it’s due to less exercise, more alcohol, overeating, or just stress, weight gain is something I’m sure most of us could live without. Overeating is the worst. Food can be used as a comfort or distraction. You mindlessly eat and you crave sugar. I personally drown my feelings in chocolate milk with chocolate chip cookies, cereal and maybe ice cream. In the long term, you gain weight and it specifically goes to the belly!
  6. Your stress levels skyrocket. Depending on how you handle it, stress can wreak havoc and potentially damage your health. According to science, love is more addicting than drugs and when your heart gets broken, all those happy chemicals that give you a feeling of pleasure get washed away (it must be by all our tears). The brain then has more space and pumps cortisol like it does in any upsetting situation, increasing stress levels. In the long term, this could be harmful as stress causes many issues. People have even had strokes and heart attacks from the stress of a breakup. Yes, you can actually die from a broken heart. We can’t let ourselves be victims of stress and its posse.
  7. You literally can’t sleep. Your body is tired but your mind is wide awake and racing. You think of what could have been, you relive the breakup in your mind and you think of a bunch of smart comebacks you should have said. Although your body is exhausted, your mind is restless. The problem with insomnia is that, in addition to not getting any sleep, it increases your risks for other issues like high blood pressure or heart disease.
  8. You experience withdrawal symptoms. What happens when you’re in love then suddenly without it? The same thing that happens to drug users when they are without—withdrawal. We all need human contact so it affects us when it is gone. If you happen to have an addictive personality, you could feel as shaky as a druggie because the area of your brain that processes cravings and addictions is also turned on by breakups. Withdrawal symptoms for an ex are like cravings for cocaine. Eventually, you get over it, but who knew the similarities between romantic rejection and a cocaine craving?
  9. You’re in a mental fog. Emotional chaos can contribute to a slowing of the brain. It may be that you can’t focus or you’re more forgetful or you even feel confused. Some experts say that after a breakup, you can even question your identity. Relationships change how we think of ourselves so when a relationship ends, that sense of self ends. As your heart heals, so will your body and mind. Give it time and try to get sleep.
  10. You just can’t get motivated. You just don’t feel like doing anything or going anywhere. The only thing you want to do is be alone. You may even have a lapse in your usual personal care whether it is your diet, exercise, or sleep. Yes, you’re miserable but if you want to heal, you need to get up, get out! Being a hermit crab only makes things worse and prolongs the situation. The best way to get over a lack of motivation is to get your dopamine pumping and do something! Stay active and stay social.
I am Jay, a student graduating from Law School in Miami. I love politics and fashion and food.