Breaking up is hard to do…….(Part 1)

Posted by on Feb 14, 2017 in Depression Counseling

Breaking up is hard to do…….(Part 1)

They say that breaking up is hard to do. Well, it is. It’s probably one of the hardest things that human beings will experience. Have you ever wondered what the body actually goes through during a heartbreak? The physical symptoms are usually obvious to all, but the psychological symptoms are also very real and will last much longer than the physical ones. Did you know that one can die from a broken heart. Broken hearts are real and the pain that it inflicts is also real. In this two part blog series, I will explore various aspects of a broken heart. This blog will focus on the physiological and psychological aspects of a broken heart.

What is a broken heart

A ” broken heart” is the metaphor or term that is used to describe the intense emotions for what is also known as “heart break”, or “heartache”. This intense emotions can lead to something called ” broken heart syndrome” which can cause physical damage to one’s heart. Broken heart syndrome is described as physical pain in the heart or chest area, due to the emotional stress caused by a traumatic breakup or sudden death of a loved one. This can resemble a heart attack.

Research indicates that this temporary condition causes the abnormal pumping of blood to one area of the heart. Any negative effects caused by “broken heart syndrome” is treatable and should be reversible within days or weeks. The emotional pain that is associated with a “broken heart” is believed to be part of our survival instincts. Further research done on this topic shows that various areas of the brain undergoes physical chemical changes during episodes of a broken heart.


During a break up one may feel like they are going to die and the pain will last forever.
The good news is that the pain does not last forever, and one will and does bounce back, off course in due time. There really is no true time frame as to when the pain will end and when one may begin to feel “normal” again. This will be up to the individual and how they cope with stress.

Here is a list of some common physical symptoms that one may experience during a breakup.

– Hysterical and uncontrollably crying.
– Loss of appetite or over eating. One either losses weight during this time, or gains weight.
– Insomnia or hyper-somnia. One usually endorse lots of sleep or sleepless nights.
– Unable to function normally/not focused. One may sit and just stare into space.
– Nausea
– Heart palpitations. One may feel like their heart is going to come out of their chest, (if you have ever endorsed an anxiety attack this will feel similar)
– Headaches
– Shortness of breath
– Restlessness
– Exhaustion or fatigue


These are the symptoms that I’m most concerned about as a therapist, because they will last much longer than the physical ones. As if the physical pain isn’t bad enough the psychological pain can go on for months or even years after a break up. The following list is composed of some of the common psychological symptoms that individuals may endorse during a break up.

– Ruminating and uncontrollably continuous thoughts about the break up are usually components of grief. The individual usually cannot stop talking about the relationship.
– Feelings of rejection which can lead to shame and sometimes guilt. No one wants to be the person that someone else dumped.
– Feelings of being unworthy, unacceptable, even disposable can lead to a lowered sense of self-esteem. These feelings are extremely painful.
– Doubting yourself and your self-worth, can also lead to a lowered self esteem.
– Isolating one’s self. The individual may vow that they will never again allow themselves, to be this vulnerable. They may shut down and shut others out for a very long time.
– Depression is common especially when one blames themselves for the break up. One may say things like why didn’t I do this, or do that differently, they may beat up on their self for not knowing any better, or not doing something sooner.
– May endorse trust issues in future relationships.
– Separation anxiety can occur, especially if the couple has been together for a long period of time.
– Anxiety about life in general and especially about future relationships
– Psychological trauma can occur in severe cases which can leave an impact on how one would proceed thereafter in future relationships. This emotional trauma, may lead to abandonment or attachment issues in the future relationships.
– Symptoms of PTSD can occur in very extreme cases, especially in some abusive relationship.

Did you know that for many individuals, their first heart break took place in early childhood? Just think about this for a second. For those individuals who grew up without a parent, (who choosed not to partake in the child’s life), or a parent who was in and out of a child’s life. That child may have experienced heart break before. That parent may have made and broken numerous promises during that child’s life. Those individuals have been exposed too and have experienced many broken hearts in their younger years. Those were their first heart breaks, although it may have not been called that.

The repercussions of these encounters do show up in adulthood and it’s also a factor as to why so many individuals have problems in their adult relationships later in life. Further more, they may endorse symptoms known as “daddy issues”.

In my next blog on this topic, I will explore several ways on how to heal/mend a broken heart as well as ways to help prevent a broken heart.