I can’t stop thinking about the day he left. He said he loved me, but wasn’t “in love” anymore. Twenty-four years of marriage, two kids. Almost all of my adult life was spent with him. So many memories; I can’t stop thinking about him. All I want to do is sleep; when I wake up it hits me all over again. I realize it’s not a nightmare. It’s real. I can’t believe he’s gone. I miss him so much my heart hurts.
Have you ever been left by someone you loved? For most of us the answer is yes. Breaking up hurts, in the pit of your stomach; the bottom drops out. Feels like your life is over. The avalanche of feelings: shock, hurt, anger, sadness, grief, fear, and depression engulf you like a tsunami. It’s as if something has physically died.
Scientists found that the death of a relationship can also literally break your heart. Dr. Henry Roca, director of Integrative Medicine at Greenwich Hospital, states, “It can be a significant trauma, that physically hurts people.” He explains, “Adrenaline is what makes the heart be stunned and feel pain. People truly feel a pain in their heart. They get stuck in a pattern of hyper-arousal. They have trouble sleeping. Their minds continue to wander and perseverate.”
Broken-Heart Syndrome, a.k.a. stress-induced cardiomyopathy, happens suddenly after extreme emotional or physical stress such as loss of a loved one. Symptoms can include angina (chest pain), shortness of breath, arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) and/or cardiogenic shock (suddenly weakened heart unable to pump enough blood). The result can be severe, short-term heart muscle failure.
Dr. Harmony Reynolds, cardiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, explains the difference between a heart attack and Broken-Heart Syndrome. Watch her interview.
Is it really possible to die from a broken heart? Dr. Ilan Wittstein, cardiologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital, explains why it is. Click here to watch his fascinating interview about why some couples die within hours or days of each other.
The good news is that most people recover from Broken-Heart Syndrome. Regular exercise, meditation, yoga and deep breathing, as well as grief counseling can help.
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Image Copyright James Choi