When the Affair Is Over &
the Blues Hurt Your Heart
It’d seem virtually impossible to add yet another cliche to a day so full of them as Valentine’s. But we think we can still squeeze an extra one in. For a selected group of researchers seems to agree that heartbreak causes physical symptoms in those going through it.
We hate to say it, but we told you so, haven’t we? Doctors in New York, Michigan, and Beverly Hills believe that the body responds to the emotional pain of a breakup just like it would to any other kind of stress, and it may even enlarge your heart.
For Montefiore’s Director of Psychology Simon Rego, the reaction it’s a built-in defense mechanism that ‘keeps us alive.’ It’s ‘more than just a metaphorical feeling of pain,’ says University of Michigan Professor Ethan Kross, in what psychiatrist and author Carole Lieberman characterizes it as a particularly vulnerable time to physical illness.
Even the prestigious Mayo Clinic got into what’s known as ‘broken-heart syndrome,’ a condition in which the person experiences chest pains and firmly believes it’s a heart attack. That’s because research showed that the heart temporarily enlarges in response to the surge of stress hormones caused by the end of the affair.
By now, many of you may be experiencing some kind of heart-racing urge, alright, but just out of the desire to kill us. After all, why would we choose today to (chocolate) rain on everyone’s parade, right? We understand. But think of it as a public service and please don’t think ill of our feeble attempt at bringing you something fresh to such a by-the-numbers day.
Perhaps Dr. Rego can elaborate a bit, specially for those who may feel left out of all the fireworks of roses and rings that makes this a make or break kind of a day. ‘It’s important to remember that life is never constant,’ he says (please don’t cringe just yet). ‘It’s the blessing and the curse of it all,” he told the LATimes.
His pearl of wisdom should appear in small print on the back of all Valentine’s Day cards that millions are exchanging today. ‘We all will experience loss in our lives. It’s what it means to be human. But as low as we feel, it’s important to remember that things get better,’ and we think we may be having some kind of palpitation now.
Maybe that’s because we know we couldn’t possibly put it any better, without starting melting as a pile of white sugar under a heavy downpour of high fructose corn syrup.
We mean no disrespect to the good old doc, of course, or to any research on the emotional response to such an often devastating event in our lives as a breakup, for that matter. As Dr. Kross, who studied the effects of physical and emotional pain, says, ‘social rejection may actually have a bodily component to it.’
Let’s not go any further with the derogatory tinge for now. As many in history, we’ve tried and tried our hands at the stuff, and may have only managed to cross the part that ‘hurts and causes physical pain.’ So what’s a no-expert-at-love is left to do? try it over, of course. We’re foolish that way. The Valentine way.