It’s not just you: Breakups *can* lead to physical pain, so here’s how to deal


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If you’ve ever gone through a traumatic breakup, you know how difficult the fallout can be. Aside from the emotional gymnastics you put yourself through trying to get some freaking clarity on what even went wrong, heartbreak can hurt. And I mean physically hurt. Whether you’re up all night, tossing and turning, finding yourself short of breath or dizzy, or experiencing a loss of appetite, there are sometimes physical symptoms that accompany a broken heart.

“What you’re experiencing are symptoms that are related to depression and anxiety,” says licensed psychotherapist and relationship expert Rachel Sussman, LCSW. “When people talk about physical symptoms around a breakup, that’s what I typically hear about.” Physical markers of breakup-induced anxiety and depression include sweating, dizziness, and tingling of the extremities, Sussman says. (Heck, research has even conflated feelings of love with addiction and rejection with drug withdrawals.) And while you don’t have to be prone to anxiety and depression to experience these effects, if one or both of the conditions are part of your life, Sussman says you’re much more likely to feel the physical woes.

And it doesn’t really matter if you’re the dumper or the dumpee when it comes to the literal pain of heartache—i.e. a reality dumpers of the world aren’t typically prepared for. “If someone is broken up with, they expect to feel some level of anxiety,” she says. “But if you’re the person doing the breaking up, you may not think that those feelings are going to happen—and they do.”

“If someone is broken up with, they expect to feel some level of anxiety. But if you’re the person doing the breaking up, you may not think that those feelings are going to happen—and they do.” —Rachel Sussman, LCSW

A lot of factors are at play when it comes to whether you’ll feel the crappy feels—and how long they may stick around. Namely, these include the length of time you’re in a relationship, whether you feel heartbroken or not, and whether you have a good support system around you. “If you’re someone who struggles with anxiety and depression normally, or you’ve got abandonment issues, it might take a while for these issues to resolve,” Sussman says. But if you’re generally a mentally healthy person, and you’re able to talk out your feelings with someone you trust, you can expect to feel sorted out in a few weeks.

But if you’re still finding that you’re not sleeping or are exhibiting other physical symptoms of a breakup long after the relationship’s end, then it might be time to get a professional involved, says Sussman. And remember: There’s no problem “too small” to take to a professional. So even though you may not feel like the situation necessitates seeing a therapist, if it’s keeping you from functioning in your daily life, then it absolutely is.

Otherwise, Sussman says the best course of action is to just focus and take care of you. “Just take care of your body and your soul,” she says.

Fresh off a breakup? Stream these things on Netflix for some relaxing self-care. And if you’re considering hypnotherapy to help with your healing endeavors, check out how it went for one editor who tried it.

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