Most people know how awful it feels to have a romantic relationship come to an end, but the majority of the discussions revolve around how it affects a person emotionally. While you’re sorting through all those ~feels~, be mindful of what going through a breakup can do to your body. The restlessness, the sore muscles, and mysterious pains don’t just show up on a whim to make your life more miserable than feels: There are scientific reasons why breakups leave us feeling like crap.
In addition to flipping your world upside down, a breakup can impact your physical health in some pretty scary ways.
And we might not even recognize them, possibly because we’re too overwhelmed with distress, agony and thoughts of, “OMG will I always be this sad and pathetic?!”
Some of us tend to take breakups casually, but after reading all of the messed up things your body goes through after a breakup, we think anyone who survives a split deserves a badge of honor for making it through in one piece.
1Your appetite decreases.
If you and your partner have decided to go your separate ways, don’t be surprised if stress eating has lost its usual appeal. Instead of wanting to eat all of the things, you might find that you’ve lost your appetite after the breakup because the stress you experience prompts a rise in your body’s cortisol and adrenaline levels, which can take away your desire to eat.
2You may experience physical pain.
When we think of emotional hurt, we can’t necessarily tie it to a particular body part. However, there’s scientific research that has managed to do just that. According to Daily Mail, “emotional pain activates the same pathways in the brain as physical pain.”
In fact, the body goes through a breakup withdrawal that includes symptoms like chest pain, which can actually lead to Broken Heart Syndrome, a legitimate medical condition that the American Heart Association says can lead to short-term yet severe heart muscle failure.
3You could experience hair loss.
And we’re not referring to the handful of strands you tore out during an angsty crying fit. In reality, heartbreak can cause your hair fall out, and it goes back to that one pesky source: stress.
When we’re seriously stressed out, the brain releases neurotransmitters throughout the body that can impact the immune system, which can in turn cause hair to enter its “resting phase” and fall out for a period of weeks or even months after the emotionally traumatic incident, Vogue reports.
4The digestive system goes off the rails.
Along with your appetite, expect your digestive system to act a little wonky after a romantic split. As Today writes, a broken heart is not your stomach’s friend:
5Sleep patterns are disrupted.
When you go through a breakup, your sleep quality suffers as well. It’s almost as if your body wants to remind you that your sleeping habits have changed, just in case you forgot that your bed is now emptier and colder (on one side, at least).
In short, the reason why you can’t sleep after a breakup goes back to stress. Sleep specialist Chris Winter, MD told HuffPost, “Stress prevents sleep. Sleep deprivation increases stress and its consequences.”
6Your immune system weakens.
Ugh, this is getting worse by the minute. The fact that the immune system becomes weaker after a breakup makes us feel an extra bit of compassion for anyone who gets dumped during cold and flu season.
Breakup stress — like any other form of stress — takes a toll on your immune system. The brain responds by sending defense signals to the endocrine system, which causes our body’s built-in protective system to sort of drop its guard, leaving us more susceptible to illness, Psychology Today explains.
If you’ve recently ended a relationship, use this time to be a little bit nicer to yourself and take healthy measures to work through your emotions. You’re feeling broken now, but it’s only a matter of time before the pieces of your old self start to come together again.