Love is a magical feeling that is hard to explain with words. Scientists, however, have conducted many research studies in an attempt to understand love as a biological process. Consequently, some of them were interested in why the heartache of a breakup feels so awful.
Experiments that involved brain scans from people who were looking at photos of someone special to them in a romantic way have shown brain activities in the regions associated with reward detection, pleasure, and motivation. These parts of the brain are rich with dopamine which is a type of neurotransmitter that plays a big role in feeling pleasure. The pleasurable experience that comes out of love can be even compared to the type of euphoria associated with the use of addictive substances such as cocaine or other drugs.
At the same time, a direct link was discovered in the brain activity of people who have experienced rejection from someone they love and those who are withdrawing from the use of addictive substances. Moreover, other studies have shown that the pain we feel during heartbreak is similar to physical pain we might feel due to a severe burn or broken arm.
Namely, MRI images of the participants in the study showed that the parts of the brains of the people struggling with recent heartbreak are actually the same as the ones that are activated during feeling physical pain. I.e. physical pain that was rated as level 8 (on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being almost intolerable pain) showed similar results to an MRI taken by someone who had just talked about their recent breakup.
What can you do to heal from a breakup?
Heartbreak is a form of grief and loss that can cause serious issues with insomnia, anxiety and even depression or suicidal thoughts. Time will probably help, but there are a few other things you can do, based on what we know from these studies.
First of all, try to avoid any visual reminders of your ex-partner, especially things that have sentimental value, like pictures, shirts they left in your home or even gifts. Visiting places that you used to spend time with them are likely to create dopamine surges in your brain that relate to feelings of craving and withdrawal as well.
Instead, you should try to replace those surges of dopamine with other activities. You can start by taking up a fitness class or going to the gym. It is proven that exercise can real to the release of endorphins that trigger a positive feeling throughout the body and brain.
While taking care of your physique is a good start, overcoming the psychological effects of the breakup is one of the biggest hurdles you will face. What you need is a recalibrating of your mind and way of thinking because you need to adapt to life without your ex-partner. Try to make a list of reasons your ex-partner was not perfect or the things that were negative in the relationship. Remind yourself of the things you missed during the time you spent with them and try doing something new and different.
Finding logic in heartbreak can be a good start to the healing process and if you stick to your new plan, we believe you can make it. The day you decide it’s over, it’s over.