Body kicks into fight or flight mode
Themalni/Shutterstock The “fight or flight response” is our body’s primitive, innate response that prepares it in case of a threat or attack to our survival. This natural reaction isn’t just triggered by physical circumstances; it can also be sparked with emotional or mental trauma. According to Erika Martinez, Psy.D., “A breakup is perceived as a stressor by the body, and the body doesn’t distinguish whether that stressor comes in the form of a broken heart or a lion chasing you. The body will respond to both in the same way; this response includes shakiness/trembling, poor concentration, and intrusive thoughts. While the stress of a threat posed by a lion is transient, the stress resulting from a breakup lasts longer and can lead to chronic anxiety, and if left unaddressed, into depression.” These are 8 other things that get way harder when you’re stressed.
Changes occur in sleep and appetite
Estrada Anton/Shutterstock Blame this one on your pesky hormones. The hallmark of mental distress is the physical symptoms of significant sleep and appetite changes. Because breakups fall under long-term stressors, releases of cortisol divert blood from the digestive system, causing it to slow down and incite conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). As a result, you’re more likely to either over or under eat or resort to splurging on “comfort food” to cope. And that’s not all. “Sleep can be also be seriously impacted. Insomnia or hypersomnia are common with the loss of a significant relationship, and these can lead to other physical health issues like headaches, low energy, low motivation, anxiety, greater stress, and depression,” says Christina Hibbert, clinical psychologist, speaker, and author of Who Am I Without You: 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup.