“So it’s true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love,” wrote E.A. Bucchianeri.
We all know how steep that price can be when it comes to the heart. A truly horrible breakup can create a sense of depression, lower our self-esteem, and even weaken our ability to trust. Is changes our outlook on the entire world. If we aren’t careful, a single blow to the heart can leave it permanently broken.
As awful as all of that is, the ramifications of lost love don’t end there. There’s so, so much more going on.
Did you know that heartbreak takes its toll on the body, as well?
Here are six things that happen to your body when your heart is ripped in two:
– Even for those without a history of sleep disorders, heartbreak and insomnia seem to go hand in hand. You stay up ruminating over your lost love. Your body is exhausted, but your mind and your spirit won’t rest. Unfortunately, insomnia can lead to depression and anxiety. It also increases your risk for other health disorders, such as high blood pressure and heart disease.
2. Digestive Problems
– You may have no appetite, or you may eat compulsively. You may experience nausea, indigestion, severe pains and cramps, or even stomach ulcers. When we are in emotional turmoil, our gut often absorbs much of the impact. This is especially true in people who refrain from expressing their feelings, and choose to internalize them instead.
3. Mental Fog
– Stress, insomnia, and emotional turmoil can all contribute to a slowing of the brain. You may find yourself unable to focus or stay with a task. You may feel slower than usual, as if your brain is walking through quicksand. Be sure to get enough sleep and adhere to a healthy diet. As your body and heart heal, your mind will start to catch up, too.
4. Sensitivity to Illness
– The severe stress caused by heartbreak has actually been proven to compromise the immune system. As a result, when the heart is vulnerable, so is the body. A weak immune system leaves you susceptible to viral infections, bacteria, and hormonal irregularities – as if you weren’t feeling awful enough.
– Many kinds of headaches – especially tension headaches and migraines – are thought to be caused or aggravated by stress. For those with racing minds, mental fatigue and insomnia may add to this problem. A depression-based lapse in self-care – especially when it manifests in poor diet, exercise, and sleep habits – can also contribute to this.
6. Physical Heartache
– They call it heartbreak for a reason – it can hurt as if you have broken an arm or a leg. Chest pain is a common physical response to extreme stress. This may manifest as sharp pain, tension, pressure, twitches, or even heart palpitations. You may feel as though you are having an actual heart attack.
“Once you had put the pieces back together, even though you may look intact, you were never quite the same as you’d been before the fall.” wrote Jodi Picoult. We never truly recover from heartbreak. We don’t go back to who we were before. Instead, we rebuild ourselves. We can become greater, stronger, and more empathetic people from our troubles.
Hang in there, and take care of yourself. Someday you may even be glad this heartbreak happened.
Related: The Science of Heartbreak