June 8, 2011 at 2:06 pm #37487
Interesting article on the connection
between a broken heart (emotional) and
real health effects (physical) . . . S
Dumped? How to heal the health effects of a broken heart
Romantic rejection can manifest in various forms of
physical anguish, researchers find
Got a stomach ache? A headache? Insomnia? Your health issues may be related to your recent romantic rejection.
By Jennifer Nelson
updated 6/6/2011 12:34:14 PM ET
When 23-year old Emmie Scott, a direct marketer in Richmond, Va., and her boyfriend/co-worker broke up and still had to endure seeing each other daily, Scott suffered a broken heartliterally. The most uncomfortable symptom I experienced is the sensation that someone was sitting on my chesta combination of both pain and pressure thats left more than one of my friends commenting that my heart must actually be broken.
Researchers now understand that romantic rejection triggers changes in our brains that affect our health. Edward Smith, a Columbia University psychologist, and a team of colleagues, found that intense emotional pain can activate the same neural pathways as physical pain. Seems being jilted can hurt in a primitive physical way as if you’ve been sucker-punched by a welterweight.
Whats more, that physical pain can manifest in surprising ways. Aside from chest pain, you may get hit with a kick-butt cold or flu, develop insomnia, or a range of gastro symptoms from loss of appetite to diarrhea. The precise health wallop you suffer may have to do with how your body manifests stress. Asthmatic? You could have an asthma attack. Suffer from a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis? Your skin will likely flare up. Have irritable bowel syndrome? Prepare to hit the restroom.
While in college I found out my boyfriend (and high school sweetheart) was cheating on me. Although only 110 pounds, I dropped almost 15 and broke out with a case of shingles, which required a week of prednisone to calm, says Christina Stoever Young, 40, producer of a historic haunted walking tour in Truckee, Calif.
Here, the top health complaints stemming from heartache:
Complaint: Heart pressure or pain, palpitations, abnormal heart rhythms
Why: When the stress response is triggered by a break up or divorce, the body sends out a massive flooding of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Any time your adrenaline levels are higher, youre more vulnerable to faster heart rate, palpitations and certain arrithymias, or abnormal heart rhythms, as well as skipped beats, light headedness, feeling your chest pounding, and a fluttering feeling in your neck, says Dr. John M. Kennedy, a Marina Del Ray cardiologist and co-author of The 15 Minute Heart Cure: The Natural Way to Release Stress and Heal Your Heart in Just Minutes a Day.
Women heart patients facing severe stress from marriage difficulties were found to have three times the risk of heart attack as women without such stress. Worse, theres a syndrome that mimics heart attack called Takotsuba syndrome, or broken heart syndrome, in which an EKG, chest X-ray and blood work all indicate heart attack. But when a cardiologist goes inside the heart searching for the culprit blocked artery, the arteries are wide open. The stress response simulates heart attack symptoms. Broken heart syndrome is an extreme form of what heartache can do to our bodies, says Kennedy. While it can be lethal, the heart muscle usually recovers within six months.
What helps: Anything that relieves stress helps prevent these heart problems during relationship troubles: exercise, yoga, tai chi, meditation, relaxing through breathing or visualization, even short term anti-anxiety medication.
Complaint: Cold or flu
Why: These same stress hormones torch your immune system leaving you vulnerable to rogue bacteria and viruses. Normally when youre confronted with bacteria or virus, your body will mount a defense, says Dr. Valerie Scott, a board certified family doctor in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. Post break up, however, your immune system is weakened and those defenses arent unable to ward off illness.
What helps: Managing your stress improves your immune system. Exercise, eat well, take a multi-vitamin, especially the B complex vitamins, which boost immunity, rest enough and decompress with music, comedy or friends to counteract the flood of stress hormones.
Complaint: Gastro upset (stomach pain, loss of appetite, diarrhea,)
Why: The excess cortisol shooting into your system during your break up diverts blood away from your digestive track, leaving you with GI unpleasantness–that cant eat for weeks, sour stomach, run to the bathroom feeling you get when your relationship tanks.
What helps: Try over-the-counter meds for your queasy stomach. In one study researchers simulated rejection in the lab and found that aspirin alleviates the painful feelings triggered by being rebuffed. While it seems skeptical, its worth a try, as is curbing your desire to veg on the couch. Exercise prompts your brain to release uplifting endorphins that will settle your stomach. Whats more, misery loves company. You want to surround yourself with family and friends and supportive people because its easy to get depressed, says Kennedy, which may worsen symptoms. Camaraderie can stimulate a much-needed dose of missing oxytocin, a feel-contented hormone.
Why: Sleeping patterns, not unlike eating patterns, become skewed during relationship demise. Some people want to stay in bed all day while others cant seem to sleep at all. Science really doesnt understand why it happens, but its likely due to racing thoughts, the he-said, she-said reenactment of the break up plays out mentally while at rest. Plus, stress hormones, still at their peak, may wreck your circadian rhythms and internal clock.
What helps: Stay active enough so your body will reach the reparative deep levels of sleep it needs, but dont push yourself to exhaustion, which backfires. Exercise, but avoid it after 9 pm, since it could cause insomnia. Skip caffeine after 3 in the afternoon for the same reason. Turn off TV, computer and cell phone at least an hour before bed and embrace a relaxing sleep routine: low lighting, candles, and a warm bath. Once you calm that stress response, all of these medical things resolve and get better, says Scott.June 10, 2011 at 11:40 pm #37488
Good advice on restoring normal sleeping patterns. Meditation definitely helps too, but when the body is in self sabotage mode, the problem becomes actually doing the restorative activities, not falling asleep. In these cases though consistently taking one step in the right direction will eventually produce positive results and turn the situation around. Consistency is key.June 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm #37490June 11, 2011 at 6:43 pm #37492
“Set your demons on fire
Do your best to win
Just as long as you’ve got
The power within”
Nice . . . SJune 11, 2011 at 10:08 pm #37494
It is your mystery
You’re gonna start the game
Someone is history
And there’s no one to blame
You gotta leave no stone unturned
No bridge unburnt
No rule unlearnt
Afraid of just the morning sun
Your time to run
Your time to run
Set your demons on fire
Do your best to win
Just as long as you got
The power within
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