What Happens In The Brain After A Breakup

What Happens in the Brain After a Breakup

A bad breakup can leave you empty, defeated and confused. It feels like our broken hearts are tearing us apart, and the truth is, it kind of is. Scientific studies have shown that partners who have been in a relationship for a long time develop interconnected memories, each of which becomes part of a system on which both people depend.

The end of a relationship is often experienced as traumatic. It’s almost as if one of our limbs has been amputated; the body responds by craving what it learned to depend on, similar to the withdrawal symptoms experienced by drug addicts.

Falling in love with someone is an emotional process that has a lot of influence on the brain. It is therefore only logical that a breakup also affects the brain in many ways. When we experience emotional pain, the same areas of the brain are activated as when we experience physical pain.

Heartbreak and the brain

Several studies show that when someone falls in love, the same areas of the brain are activated as during a breakup, namely the areas that generate attachment and desire. This means that, in addition to the pain a person experiences, a person may still feel attached to their partner.

John Cacioppo, director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, argues that we are made to form stable emotional bonds. And it is so very painful when these ties are broken, because the person you trusted and believed in has disappointed you.

The results of other studies of people who have experienced a painful breakup show that when the body responds to pain, it releases the same hormones as when you feel tense. These hormones also affect digestion and the heart.

If you’ve been through a similar situation, you know how much it hurts, but you also know that life goes on. Your friends, your family, your passions, and your inner resources will help you get over it. The process of a breakup is like falling in love again, but in reverse. The neural response to romantic passion is similar in both cases.

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The brain as they get over a breakup

Several studies have shown that as a love relationship develops, you idealize the person you love less and less. However, after a breakup, all those feelings come back. The reward system in the brain still expects to receive a token of love. When our brains don’t get the expected response, they respond by activating the reward system even more strongly.

It is this demand from the reward system in your brain that ultimately causes you to act impulsively or foolishly after a breakup. So when you write those goodbye letters or turn to desperate means to win back your ex, you’re really reacting to the chemical mess in your brain.

When love comes to an end, it hurts. This very real physical suffering can last for months, but it is part of the healing and growth process that takes place after the breakup. Several brain scans of people with heartbreak showed that there is a special activity in parts of the prefrontal cortex, the brain region that has to do with expressing personality, making decisions, and planning complex cognitive behavior.

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In other words, while you’re grieving and crying, the chemicals in your brain are already working to redirect your behavior, balance your emotions, and get your life back on track.

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