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My Heart Hurts and I Can’t Take It

When you break up with someone, it hurts. It doesn’t just hurt emotionally, but physically. You often hear people talk about how their heart is broken, or the pain of heartbreak. Breakups don’t just heart emotionally, but they can hurt your body. We can feel emotional pain in different parts of our bodies, including the heart. You find yourself saying “my heart hurts.” And it feels devastating. You feel like you can’t take the emotional and physical pain from the breakup. What’s happening to you?

The science of love

When you fall in love, certain happy chemicals are released. During the phase of attraction, you’ll feel surges of dopamine and norepinephrine in the initial stages when you’re dating someone. When things get more intense, different chemicals are activated. Serotonin levels increase and finally when you’re developing an attachment to your partner, the brain’s hypothalamus releases oxytocin. Oxytocin is the “love hormone.” It’s released during sex, and also comes out of a mother’s hormones during childbirth. It’s a hormone that promotes attachment. Vasopressin is another hormone that is released when partners have long-term commitments. Scientists have discovered it in connection with long-term relationships.

When people break up their hormones crash

When you break up with someone, your brain feels deprived of a reward it’s been getting for a long time. When you were in a relationship, you were getting hits of dopamine from being with your partner, and oxytocin made you feel secure and stable. Now that the relationship is over, your mind is hurting for those happy chemicals. You keep looking at pictures of your ex on your phone, listening to songs that remind you of them, and your heart is hurting. One of the reasons that your heart aches so much is because your brain wants to replace what it lost. But, it can’t because your ex is gone. In some ways it’s similar someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol who gets sober but still craves the taste of their substance of choice. It’s not easy to get over a breakup, and science confirms this!

But I want to stop hurting

Your heart will stop hurting with time, and I promise you that. But, it won’t be easy. You need to take some difficult steps to get over your ex.

  • No contact — One thing that will help you is to stop talking to that person. If you have no contact with them, you’ll be reminded of them less, and you can stop wanting what you can’t have. If you have to work with your ex, limit the relationship to talking about work only.
  • Distraction — Distract yourself by seeing friends, getting out of the house, taking a class, exercising, or keeping busy with something you love to do. You can still feel your feelings, but doing other things to keep your mind off of the hurt helps.
  • Feel your feelings — Write down what you’re experiencing in a journal, feel your emotions, talk to a therapist about what you’re experiencing. You don’t have to hurt alone.

Therapy can help

It’s painful to get through a breakup alone, and you don’t have to do that! You can speak to a therapist about your pain. Yes, your heart hurts, and that pain is real and valid. So, talk to a therapist about it. Whether you work with a therapist in your local area or find an online counselor, there’s help. Online counseling is an excellent form of treatment to help you cope with the pain from a breakup. You can meet with a therapist in the privacy of your home or wherever you feel the most comfortable. You can get through this with the support of a mental health professional. With time this pain will pass, and you will heal.

Getty photo by Marjan_Apostolovic

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