Tag Archives: Died

Breaking Up Can Literally Break Your Heart

The word “heartbreak” is bandied about so much we often forget that physical heart pain is a side effect of high-stress events.

Along with depression and loss of appetite, physical heart pain is an actual side effect of high-stress events like the loss of loved ones. The grief from a breakup or death can be so consuming that it’s actually heart wrenching and can have serious consequences for our physical health, too.

The ‘Physical Effects’ of a ‘Broken Heart’:

Anyone who has experienced real heartbreak knows that it’s not just a melodramatic term. The aching, tight feeling that accompanies such sadness is uncomfortable, but usually not disconcerting. However, for people with broken heart syndrome, it feels scarily similar to a heart attack — in fact, most people are diagnosed after being taken to the emergency room.

Broken heart syndrome, also known as stress cardiomyopathy, is a sudden weakness in the heart muscle due to a severely stressful situation. It has the same symptoms as a heart attack — difficulty breathing, chest pain, and a drop in blood pressure — but while a heart attack permanently damages the heart, broken heart syndrome’s effects are temporary. Also, heart attacks are caused by blocked coronary arteries; people can experience stress cardiomyopathy without existing blockages. This important difference is often how doctors determine one from the other.

In 2005, researchers at John Hopkins University discovered the distinction when they studied the hearts of patients dealing with deaths of family members, car accidents, financial woes, and other anxiety triggers. They postulated that being under such stress causes the brain to release a constant stream of stress hormones like adrenaline into the blood, which makes heart vessels work too hard and reduces pumping strength. However, this is but one theory — doctors are still trying to determine exactly why adrenaline surges affect heart muscle cells the same way that heart attacks do.

The syndrome might be serious like a heart attack, but luckily it’s a temporary condition that can be cleared up in about a week with proper medical care. Mostly people just need time to recover from whatever physical or emotional event shocked their systems enough to cause cardiomyopathy. Even seemingly innocent things like surprise parties and public speaking can spark heart problems; many patients don’t have preexisting heart conditions, so it is difficult to tell who is at risk for the syndrome. For reasons still unknown, it does occur more frequently in women than men, particularly postmenopausal women.

Toxic Relationships Can Be Deadly, Too.

Suffering through a traumatic event like a breakup isn’t the only way to weaken our hearts — staying in a toxic relationship can be just as detrimental. It’s no secret that negative relationships, whether platonic or romantic, can have negative effects on our physical well-being. Emotional stress puts added pressure on our bodies, which weakens our immune systems and increases depressive episodes. In 2007, a study conducted at University College London found that people in bad relationships — characterized by a lack of support and a constant source of stress — had a 34 percent higher chance of having heart problems in the future compared to those in positive couplings.

The study followed 8,000 subjects, initially heart disease free, over a twelve-year period. At the end of the study, 589 people had developed heart disease and those who previously reported relationship strife, especially the ones who felt that talking with their companions about problems made things even worse, had a higher occurrence of the disease. We’ve always known that fighting with loved ones is a sure source of heartache, and now we know it’s a potential contributor to heart disease as well.

Our Loved Ones’ Deaths Can Lead to Our Own.

Grief over someone’s death, particularly when it’s someone as close as a mother or father, can be debilitating and excruciatingly painful. Depression and weight loss often stem from such loss, but now there’s evidence suggesting that it can even result in death. A 2008 study led by Ivan Mendoza, MD found that in 102 reported cases of sudden death, thirteen of them happened on the anniversary of the day that their parents died. Out of this group, one third of them died around the same age that their parents did. But unlike broken heart syndrome, sudden death resulting from grief occurred more among men than women in this study and the majority of cases had underlying coronary heart disease.

This isn’t the first time that grief and death have been linked. A psychiatrist named George L. Engel wrote a paper in 1971 detailing numerous cases of people who died soon after a loved one. We’ve all heard similar tales of people dying unexpectedly just a few weeks or months after their partners, as if they couldn’t imagine going on without them.

We’re inundated with the different habits we should adopt to keep our hearts in tip-top shape, like eating well and exercising, but getting out of bad relationships and dealing with loss in healthy ways aren’t usually on those lists — even though they can potentially cause physiologic harm. Perhaps as more studies like these come out, people will realize just how important it is to strive for emotional as well as physical well-being. They’re inextricably connected, even if more significance is put on one over the other. The effects of a breakup or death can be crippling and we should recognize that. Metaphorical heartbreak is painful enough as it is.

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Can A ‘Relationship Breakup’ Cause Actual Heart Damage?

A New Study Says, “YES.”

There’s a saying that no one ever died from a broken heart, but findings from a new study at Johns Hopkins (published in The New England Journal of Medicine) suggest it can do a lot more damage than you think.

The clinical research showed that some people may respond to sudden, overwhelming emotional stress such as unexpected breakup or severe grief by releasing large amounts of “catecholamines” into the blood stream, along with their breakdown products and the small proteins produced by an over-excited nervous system. These chemicals can be temporarily toxic to the heart, effectively stunning the muscle and producing symptoms similar to a typical heart attack, including chest pain, fluid in the lungs, shortness of breath and heart failure.

In other words, these broken heart syndrome (BHS) symptoms can cause a seemingly healthy heart to stop working normally–all due to the emotional stress brought on by something like an unexpected breakup. The physical symptoms of depressed patients, have experienced after a breakup or divorce include loss of appetite, inability to sleep, tightening in the chest, and nausea; while emotional problems include everything from depression to uncontrolled crying and loss of self-esteem.

Doctors estimate 1 to 2 percent of patients who are diagnosed with a heart attack in the U.S. are actually suffering broken heart syndrome. The vast majority of sufferers are “women” (studies suggest that 90 to 95 percent of patients are female).

If identified quickly and treated appropriately, BHS can resolve in a few days and leave the patient with no lasting physical damage.

Emotionally, though, the stress of a breakup may linger. Some tips on how to minimize stress and keep your body and mind in balance as you go through a breakup or divorce include:

  • Stay active and try to maintain a balance of a healthy diet with equal amounts of sleep and exercise.
  • Talking about the heartbreak can sometimes speed the recovery process. Many people seek out a therapist; however, talking to others going through similar situations can help.
  • Try not to isolate yourself. Use this time to expand your horizons.
  • Engage in social activities with friends and family in order to keep your mind off your loss and to focus on moving on with your life.
  • Allow time to heal the wounds. While there’s no set formula to how long it takes to get over a heartbreak. Everyone has the potential to bounce back to life and move forward.

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Five Ways To Avoid Depression After A Break-Up

The break-up of a relationship ranks as one of the most stressful life events; it’s up there with the death of a loved one. After the initial shock, when you may feel like you were just hit by a truck, sadness and loneliness often take over. You may feel “a part of you has died,” and your whole world has fallen apart. The ability to concentrate and get motivated may be hard to come across. You may also find yourself remembering and missing things you used to do with your partner.

YOUR PAIN IS REAL.

Brain research shows that rejection experiences in a break-up can activate the same areas of the brain that physical pain or distress do. Especially in women, a break-up can cause cardiac pain and shortness of breath. The pain is both emotional and physiological, which means it can be very intense.

Recovering from a break-up is not easy and can lead to severe depression; lowered immune system response; and even health problems.

As you recover from your break-up, you need to take care of yourself. The following tips might be helpful in that process.

TIPS FOR RECOVERING FROM A BREAK-UP FASTER

• Express yourself. Share your feelings.

One of the best ways to deal with the pain of a break-up is to share your feelings with friends or family, people you trust. The simple process of identifying and talking about your feelings is very soothing. Studies show that talking about negative feelings can reduce activity in the pain-feeling portion of the brain. Talking to others not only feels good, but also releases opiates, which are natural “pain-killers,” and helps you process and manage the emotions generated by a break-up.

• Give yourself time to grieve.

Allow yourself to be sad about the loss of your relationship, rather than trying to rush into feeling well again. People who refuse to face the pain of a break-up get involved in rebound relationships before working through the painful issues of the past relationship. They tend to project their pain and desires onto their new partner, substituting their previous partner and not seeing the new person for who he/she really is.

Give yourself time to grieve; the process may be as painful as mourning the death of a loved one. Breaking up is a loss and the only way to come out of it healthy and with peace is to grieve properly.

• Consider having a conversation with your ex-partner.

You may be able to have a final discussion with your ex-partner to help you understand what caused the break-up and express any pent-up issues and feelings. However, this may not be something your ex-partner is willing to do or it may be too painful for you to do. In this case, research shows that having an imaginary conversation, where you express all your feelings and say goodbye, can help you move-on.

• Sleep.

Sleep is one of the best ways to deal with stress and avoid depression, yet it can be hindered by emotional distress. The day’s residual pain, sadness, and anger can make it difficult to sleep well. If you wake up too early, or can’t fall asleep, take notes in order to identify a recurring theme. That will help you figure out how get stress and anger under control during the day. Try keeping a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day; you will feel more refreshed and energized than if you sleep the same number of hours at different times. Create a relaxing bed-time routine. Regular exercise and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation may also improve your sleep.

• Exercise.

Working out, running, and even brisk walking release opiates, which can help you deal with stress. Studies show that cardiovascular exercise can be as effective in dealing with mild to moderate anxiety and depression as antidepressants. So, get up and put your running shoes on!

It is natural to feel sad as you are grieving the end of your relationship. Remember to allow yourself to experience and process your own thoughts and feelings, no matter how painful they are; it will allow you to move forward. If you feel helpless, have low self-confidence, or think you are worse than you were, you may benefit from professional help to alleviate your feelings and avoid a deeper depression.

Don’t wait too long before intervening; when one door closes, you need to find the window that will allow you to go through and heal.

If you want help in dealing with relationship break-up, mail me at soulrevivng@gmail.com; for a ‘FREE’ consultation.

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