Many of us have experienced our fair share of heartbreak, whether it was a bad breakup or the loss of a loved one. When a loss happens to you, it can feel as if the world is ending and you may be consumed with overwhelming feelings. Some people, particularly those who have not experienced such a devastating loss, may not think it’s true, but the feelings associated with heartbreak are very real.
Some of them, if experienced overtime, can lead to serious health problems. Heartbreak does not only take a toll on your feelings but on your physical well-being and health as well.
Changes In Eating Habits
One of the more common symptoms of a broken heart is a change in our diet or the way that we eat. Some people are so racked with grief that they cannot eat at all, or only very minimally. This change in diet often results in unwanted or unnecessary weight loss. Not eating enough results in a lack of nutrition, which is detrimental to your health.
On the other side of the coin is over-eating. Some people deal with heartbreak by sinking into a gallon of ice cream or just carelessly eating in an attempt to console their feelings. Overindulging in comfort foods can lead to weight gain and the effects of weight gain overtime can lead to health problems.
Changes In Sleeping Habits
Another common symptom of heartbreak is a change in the way that we sleep. While some people find comfort in sleeping all day, others cannot seem to sleep at all. Either way, getting too much or too little sleep is not good for your body. Both can result in a lack of mental clarity, an overall sense of crankiness, a loss of energy and can contribute to depression.
Broken Heart Syndrome
Many people who have experience heartbreak will complain of an aching in their chest and the feeling that they could be having a heart attack. This sudden change in the heart muscle following an intensely stressful situation is known as Broken Heart Syndrome. The symptoms of Broken Heart Syndrome mirror those of an actual heart attack: chest pain, difficulty breathing, and a change in blood pressure. The symptoms are real and very frightening and usually can only be differentiated as not a heart attack after a trip to the emergency room. The symptoms, though scary, are only temporary.
When we are under a lot of stress, our bodies undergo a natural chemical reaction to try to remedy the situation. The chemical, known as cortisol, is released throughout our bodies during stressful situations. The effects of cortisol affect your ability to react and stay on your toes following a devastating event. In minimal doses, cortisol is often what helps us through a tough situation, however, the effects of prolonged cortisol release can be detrimental. If you are in a continuous state of tension, you will feel weak and that can put a strain on your immune system, as well as cause muscle aches, headaches and stomach troubles.
Long Term Effects Of Heartbreak On Health
It is normal for people to feel sad or experience unhappiness following an emotionally devastating event. It is not normal however, for those unhappy feelings to become severe and last for a prolonged period of time. Sometimes a very stressful event, such as an intense breakup, can lead to a state of depression.
Depression is a serious medical condition that has a variety of symptoms, including: trouble sleeping, weight loss or weight gain, a loss of motivation to perform normal daily activities, the development of suicidal thoughts, extreme fatigue to the point of exhaustion, and feeling a sense of worthlessness.
If you have gone through a recent breakup or have experienced the loss of a loved one and you are now experiencing symptoms of depression, it is important that you contact your doctor right away.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts go to your nearest emergency room immediately or contact emergency services.
Remaining In A Toxic Situation
Breaking up with a loved one is hard to do for many people. Even when a relationship takes a turn for the worse, the intense feelings involved can make it difficult to end the relationship, even though it has to be done. In many toxic relationships, individuals cannot imagine themselves going through life without that other person along for the journey. When the relationship is destructive and detrimental to a person’s well-being, the individual needs to realize that it is time to get out, no matter how much he or she thinks it will hurt.
Maintaining a toxic relationship is just as detrimental to your health as are the effects of heartbreak. Staying in a negative, stressful relationship can put you in constant emotional stress, causing a weakening of the immune system and making you physically sick, as well as putting you at risk for developing heart disease in the future.
Dying Of A Broken Heart
Sudden death following extreme grief has been researched for many years. In 1971, psychiatrist George Engel wrote a research paper detailing the number of people that die soon after the death of a loved one. This may be especially true of long-married elderly couples. The extreme feelings of sadness and loss experienced following the death of a loved one can cause symptoms of depression and weight loss and, in some cases, death as reported in a 2008 study done by Dr Ivan Mendoza.
Mendoza found that in 102 reported cases of sudden death, 13 of those deaths happened near the anniversary of the death of a loved one. Mendoza also concluded that sudden grief-related death seemed to occur more in men than in women.
Most people are often overwhelmed with tips on how to remain healthy and eat a healthy diet, as well as how to take care of their bodies. Typically, these tips don’t include advice for dealing with a broken heart. It is just as important to deal with grief in a healthy, positive way and keep yourself safe from toxic relationships, as it is to eat healthy and exercise. We need to take care of our broken hearts because the effects of a broken heart on the body are very real and in some cases, detrimental to our overall health and well-being. If you find yourself having overwhelming feelings of loss that cannot be controlled or that lead to thoughts of suicide, contact emergency personnel immediately.