How Does a Broken Heart Physically Affect the Body ?

Broken heart syndrome, also known as stress cardiomyopathy, is a sudden weakness in the heart muscle due to a severely stressful situation. It has the same symptoms as heart attack difficulty breathing, chest pain and a drop in blood pressure but while a heart attack permanently damages the heart, broken heart syndrome‘s effects are temporary.

Chemical Changes

  • When a person falls in love, the “happy” chemical dopamine and the “trust” chemical oxytocin increase to very high levels.
  • Critical thinking shuts down, caution is thrown to the wind and one becomes blind to her lover’s faults.
  • At times, it seems as if the lover is the only thing that matters.
  • People become “addicted” to these chemical rushes much the same as one can become addicted to drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, heroin, morphine and oxycontin.
  • When a relationship ends, the body is in withdrawal from these chemicals.
  • The circuits in the brain that are involved in love and loss are really a motivational system.
  • A person who has been dumped is experiencing the same irrational and involuntary brain state as a person deprived of food, water or a drug.
  • Mania and an obsession with regaining what has been lost may set in. The circuits of fear and anxiety are also at full throttle, as oxytocin levels decrease.

Physiological Changes

  • Being dumped also has effects on the autonomic nervous system.
  • The chemical changes cause physiological variations in heart rate, blood flow, blood pressure and digestion.
  • The stress hormone cortisol runs high, weakening the immune system and bringing fatigue and sickness.
  • Loss of romantic love ignites the same brain circuits as physical pain.
  • Thus, the notion of a heart breaking is not simply a metaphor. Loss can create very real pain in the body.


  • The physical and chemical changes brought about by the loss of romantic love can create a cycle of symptoms.
  • If the heart does not heal quickly, symptoms can begin to build upon one another, creating more and more problems.
  • Many people nursing a broken heart withdraw from social activities and sink into depression.
  • The sleep cycle is thrown off as the person either lies in bed all day or develops insomnia.
  • Frequently, there are also disturbances in eating patterns.
  • Some people will stop eating while others may overeat or tend to overindulge in very unhealthy foods.
  • The constant nagging pain of loss may also lead to constant, uncontrollable crying, and an inability to work or concentrate on any task.
  • These debilitating symptoms can have adverse effects on all areas of life.
  • It is important for someone who has just had her heart broken to keep a social support system. It may also be helpful to look at the benefits of singlehood.
  • Many people find that after the initial shock of the breakup has passed, they have a newfound energy.
  • The freedom, independence and sense of accomplishment that come with doing it all on your own can be revitalizing.


  • The stress of rejection might agitate your body’s immune system, leading to cell-damaging inflammation.
  • The parts of your immune system that fight infection and keep viruses under control start to lose steam. You may get sick or develop a cold sore.
    • The anguish experienced during a spilt activates the same part of the brain that is stimulated during addiction.
    • Brain scan of the broken hearted found similarities between romantic rejection and cocaine craving.
    • We also go through a similar bereavement process during a break up as when someone has died.
    • This is typically shock, denial, grief, anger, blame, self-blame,helplessness,fear of the future,depression and the acceptance.
  • EYES
    • Emotional tears are more watery and less salty than everyday tears. This means they cause water to move into the saltier tissues around the eyes by osmosis, making them swell up and look puffy.
    • Cardiologist say it is not uncommon to see people dying of the heart attack within the first fortnight after a break-up with raised adrenaline levels the body goes into fight or flight mode and the stress can cause sudden heart attack and death.
  • Intense emotional pain can activate the same networks of nerves as physical pain so being rejected or grieving over a lost love can actually really hurt and feel a bit like being punched.
    • Stress causes weight gain, especially around the middle.
    • It also causes the body to crave sugar and fat, which leads to mindless eating.
    • Your stressed-out nervous system signals your digestion to slow down.
    • You may also suffer with zero appetite.
  • SKIN
    • Stress and depression is linked with a deterioration of psoriasis, eczema, alopecia and even acne.
  • HAIR
    • Some of the hair follicles on your head could enter a state called “Telogen Effluvium”.
    • That’s medspeak for “resting phase,” in which your strands stop growing or, after a while, start falling out.
  • LEGS

People who have gone through a divorce are more likely to suffer from mobility issue such as difficulty climbing stairs or walking short distance stress from a breakup can also cause muscle spasm and tightness