Are you heartbroken? Here are the biological causes of pain during a heartbreak.

Heartbreak, the emotional pain associated with a breakup or other loss of love, is a common human experience. It is a painful and distressing experience that can cause physical symptoms, including chest pain and shortness of breath. These physical symptoms are often attributed to stress and anxiety, but recent research has suggested that there may be a biological basis for the pain during a heartbreak.

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Are You Heartbroken 💔 

Studies have found that the brain processes emotional pain in a similar way to physical pain. The brain uses the same neural pathways and chemical signals to process emotional pain as it does physical pain. This is why heartbreak can feel like a physical ache in the chest or stomach.

One of the key players in the experience of emotional pain is a neuropeptide called oxytocin. Often referred to as the “love hormone” because it is released during intimate physical contact, such as hugging or sexual intercourse.

However, oxytocin is also released during social bonding and is associated with attachment and trust. When a person experiences heartbreak, their oxytocin levels drop, which can cause physical symptoms such as pain and discomfort.

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Blame On It Your Hormones — It’s In Your Brain 🧠 

Oxytocin also interacts with other hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline, which are associated with the stress response. The decrease in oxytocin and increase in stress hormones can contribute to physical symptoms, such as elevated heart rate and blood pressure, that are associated with heartbreak.

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In addition to changes in hormone levels, heartbreak can also cause changes in brain activity. The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a part of the brain that is associated with pain processing, is activated when a person experiences emotional pain.

The ACC also interacts with the insular cortex, which is associated with the physical perception of pain. Together, these brain regions can create a feedback loop that amplifies the experience of heartbreak, causing it to feel even more painful.

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In conclusion, heartbreak is a complex emotional experience that has a biological basis. The drop in oxytocin levels and increase in stress hormones, along with changes in brain activity, can contribute to physical symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath. Understanding the biological basis of heartbreak may help us develop better ways to cope with the pain of loss and move on from a broken heart.

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Written by: Amanda Danquah, Tue, Feb 14, 2023.


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