LOVE SICK - MUSIC PLAYLIST - I CAN'T (UN) LOVE YOU - WHERE TIME WENT
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7 Signs You're LovesickSure, love comes with plenty of health benefits — but sometimes, Cupid's arrow hits you where it hurts.
Ah, love: It can make you feel like you’re walking on air, like you’ll never stop grinning, like you’ve found your life’s purpose and you’re not turning back!
Or it can make you feel extremely nauseated, tremendously sweaty, and downright depressed.
That’s because the L-word has a powerful effect on your health in a number of ways — from the emotional euphoria felt during those first few months to the physical-pain-inducing devastation of heartbreak. In most cases, love-sicknesses (both the good and the bad ones) are temporary and fade on their own — but if they linger too long, you may want to consider seeking help a mental health professional.
From the psychological disorder limerence to broken heart syndrome, here’s a look at the most powerful forms of lovesickness.
The Love-Struck Bug
You have no appetite, and you haven’t slept in days. You can’t concentrate at work, and you feel lightheaded and dizzy. Could it be a stomach bug? The flu? Nope — you are in love, my friend.
But those butterflies you’re feeling aren’t unfound: “As part of our genetics as tribal creatures, we have chemicals that make life more pleasant when we are in a relationship and less pleasant when we are separated from our beloved,” says Joseph Hullett, MD, senior medical director for OptumHealth Behavioral Solutions in Minnesota.
During the first few months of a relationship, the chemicals in our brains that get triggered include the neurotransmitters phenethylamine, dopamine, norepinephrine, and oxytocin — dubbed the love hormone, oxytocin is a strong pleasure and satisfaction neurotransmitter that helps two people bond, Dr. Hullett says. But while they can make us feel blissful, they can also result in loss of appetite, inability to concentrate, and difficulty falling asleep. Over time, however, these effects tend to subside, says Hullett.
Limerence: An Addiction to Love
For some people, lovesickness goes beyond butterflies: It may also induce physical effects, such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, stomach pain, loss of sleep, and depression, all which may persist and prevent you from functioning normally. Also known as limerence, this condition is marked by extreme attraction to another, as well as an obsessive need to have feelings returned.
“Genetic levels of a chemical called monomine oxidase make some people more susceptible to addictions, one of which can be love,” Hullett says. “People who experience limerence tend to constantly fall in and out of love and remain in an enormous state of turmoil because of it.”
Anyone who’s been through a bad split can attest that breakups may take a powerful toll on health: One recent study in the journal Psychology showed that 58 percent of participants experienced serious breakup aftereffects, such as depression, insomnia, and distressing thoughts about the lost love.
Not to mention, you lose those powerful love hormones, says Hullett. “Instead of pleasure, you may feel depression, stress, and turmoil,” Hullett says. For some people, the loss can feel as devastating as the death of a loved one.
It takes most people 6 to 24 months to get over the emotional heartbreak of a failed relationship — but if you’re having trouble functioning in your daily life, seek help.
Broken Heart Syndrome
Imagine this scenario: An elderly man passes away suddenly, and then a few days later his brokenhearted wife of 60 years has chest pain.
Known in the medical community as stress-induced cardiomyopathy, broken heart syndrome mimics symptoms of a heart attack, including shortness of breath, chest pain, heart failure, and a feeling of impending doom. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which looked at 19 women without existing heart disease, the overwhelming stress of heartbreak can cause the body to release hormones that may be responsible for this palpable reaction. “This stress reaction causes the blood to form tiny clots that can actually trigger a heart attack,” explains Hullett.
The Post-Sex Blues
Normally, sex produces feelings of happiness and elation. But for reasons that researchers have not yet pinpointed, some women experience just the opposite — a state called postcoital dysphoria. Also known as post-sex depression, the condition is marked by feelings of sadness, anxiety, regret, and irritability. Hullett suggests that people prone to mood swings may be more sensitive to withdrawal from surges of oxytocin, “which is very pleasurable but short-lived,” he says.
You know you can catch a cold from your partner, but did you realize you can also catch his depression? Though states of mind are not technically contagious, research shows that someone with a blue mood can negatively impact the spirits of those around him.
In fact, “folie à deux, which is French for ‘a madness shared by two,’ is a classic disorder in which two people in a relationship begin to mirror each other’s expressions and moods,” Hullett says. If one partner is depressed, the other may indeed begin to experience that depression. Fortunately, by urging your partner to get help — you may start to feel better, too.
You love him; you love him not? Beware your blood pressure level.
A Brigham Young University study published in the journal Health Psychology revealed that being around people you have mixed feelings about can actually be worse for your physical and emotional health than being around people you flat out dislike. Researchers evaluated 100 people after different social interactions and hypothesized that the unpredictability of being around people you have both positive and negative feelings about can stress you out, affecting your blood pressure as well as your anxiety levels. “A stressful encounter causes the muscles to tense, both in your limbs and your arteries, leading to a rise in blood pressure,” Hullett explains.