The fact is, a break up is a painful time, and can even be physically harmful. “It actually is a physical experience your body does feel like it is in pain all around,” says Emily. “Feeling really sick and depressive and wanted to throw up things like that, awful,” states Claudia. “I was physically a wreck for over a week, and emotionally distraught,” Herschel says.
A broken heart can be more than just a period of sadness; many people go through a period of mourning. “You go through grief similar to what happens when you suffer a loss. Imagine somebody you love dies, and it’s a very comparable feeling,” says Dr. Igor Galynker, a psychiatrist at Beth Israel Medical Center.
It can have, in some instances, very real psychological and physical consequences. One can have a change in sleeping habits, appetite changes--over or under eating--and even heart changes. Dr. Galynker adds, “Well um I would say if somebody gets into depression, which is not unusual after your heart is broken, um its one of the most difficult things that you have to go over. How long will it take you to get over a broken heart? I would say a year, typically.”
And according to cardiologist Russell Berdoff of Beth Israel, that psychological upset can directly affect one’s physical health. “It causes constriction of the blood vessels because of the anger and hostility emotions, uh there’s a flight or fight type reaction that can increase blood clotting and increase cholesterol, heart rate and blood pressure go up and those are all uh events that have an adverse effect on the cardiovascular system,” says Dr. Berdoff.
But whether your concern is psychological or physical, the approach is the same. “You should be doing is exercising a lot, exercise is great for depression and also for eliminating negative feelings because it brings up endorphins and euphoria which is associated with that,” states Dr. Galynker. “Petting your dog or cat lowers your heart rate and blood pressure measurably,” adds Dr. Berdoff.
And don’t be alone!! “You have to have your social calendar planned as much as you possibly can. On the other hand uh if you stay in bed a lot not see people and drink, that is going to lead to serious trouble,” Dr. Galynker adds. Alcohol is a depressant and while it may temporarily relieve anxiety, it could trigger a worse depression.
Also, don't make major life changes in other areas. You can do things that make you feel better, but don't have lasting consequences. And experts agree, if you want to talk one more time for closure, don’t do it. One website calls it “opensure” for opening up wounds. You’re just going to feel more pain.