1. The brain does not differentiate between physical pain and extreme emotional pain.
The University of Michigan conducted a study where they selected participants that had all been dumped by their significant other within the past six months. These participants had to partake in two painful tasks while researchers studied their brain activity with an fMRI machine. For the first task, researchers strapped a heat source onto the subjects’ arm, simulating the physical pain experienced while holding a hot cup of coffee without its sleeve. During the second task, participants had to look at photographs of themselves with their exes and were asked to think of specific experiences they shared with them. In both tasks, researchers found that the same brain regions were activated during experiences of physical pain and during experiences of emotional pain.
2. The intensity and longevity of heartbreak tends to be much greater in women.
3. During heartbreak our brain releases high levels of cortisol, shutting down our immune system.
Which is why we often get the flu/insomnia/hives/asthma attacks after a break-up.
4. The physiological effects of heartbreak are similar to the physiological effects of a drug addict withdrawing from cocaine.
The heartbroken’s oxytocin levels decrease dramatically, activating the parts of the brain responsible for fear and anxiety.
5. This explains why people have tangible, physical “cravings” for their ex post break-up, and why some people form obsessive habits during periods of heartbreak (e.g. driving past their ex’s house, constantly checking their ex’s Facebook…)
This is about the time when we go completely nuts.
6. The feelings a person experiences during heartbreak are also comparable to the brain state of a person deprived of food or water.
7. There has been a recorded phenomenon since the 1990s called Broken Heart Syndrome, where people have experienced heart attacks under periods of intense grief.
One difference between Broken Heart Syndrome and a common heart attack is that Broken Heart Syndrome is triggered by extreme stress on the heart while a heart attack is triggered by eating too much pizza.
8. Your risk of having a heart attack is twenty-one times higher than normal after someone you love dies.
9. So yes, it’s true that you can actually die of a broken heart.
Although the mortality rate of Broken Heart Syndrome is only 1%.