These Are The Most Common Physical Symptoms Of Heartbreak

There’s nothing quite like the unique pain of heartbreak. While you may know deep down that you will be okay and that these feelings may pass, as they’re happening, it can feel like the end of the world.

The mental toll of knowing you need to start again, get used to no longer having your person be ‘your person’ and that an important era of your life is over is nothing to sniff at.

However, it doesn’t just end at our emotional anguish. According to the hormonal health experts at TRT UK, there are actually physical impacts of heartbreak that are very common but may feel a little concerning at first.

This is what happens to your body when you are experiencing heartbreak

Your body enters survival mode

TRT UK said that when your brain is experiencing heartbreak, the part of the brain that interprets physical pain is stirred. Basically, as far as the brain is concerned, when you’re heartbroken, you’re in pain.

The hormone experts added: “When a person realises that they are encountering heartbreak, the body’s hormones immediately shift at speed. The brain believes that it is under threat and signals to the adrenal glands above the kidneys to release the stress hormone cortisol.

“As a result, the sympathetic nervous system is activated, and the body enters its ‘fight or flight’ mode. Fight or flight raises blood pressure and heart rate, causing a spike in blood sugar levels and even suppressing the workings of the body that the brain doesn’t deem vital, for example, digestion.”

When you’re experiencing heartbreak, your body can remain in fight or flight mode for prolonged periods as the brain feels that it’s under constant threat. This can cause ongoing anxiety, frequent shortness of breath and even chest pains.

You may have skin reactions

Some people experience changes in their skin such as Eczema, Psoriasis, and redness of the skin. This is because of the adrenaline constantly circulating the body, causing inflammation. The skin’s glands also produce excess sebum which then clogs the pores, causing breakouts.

The gut is impacted

While we are all familiar with the term ‘gut feeling’ in relation to a person’s intuition, the feeling of butterflies, nerves and nausea are all tied to what’s happening in the gut.

TRT UK said: “The brain signals to the gut via the Vagus nerve, which sends more signals throughout the body than any other. The gastrointestinal tract aids in telling us that we are on the road to encounter something that we will not like.

“The combination of the two sees that we experience physical gut symptoms and lose our appetite. ”

You may find yourself physically craving your ex

The habits that you create throughout a relationship quickly become routine. This means that when your relationship breaks down, these habits break down with it. This undoing of our everyday life leaves our bodies craving what they once knew.

TRT UK explained: “In a relationship, your brain engages its reward system and attaches it to your partner. Releasing the feel-good hormones dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin whilst with your partner, these hormones suddenly fall when the relationship breaks down.”

This may leave you feeling physically lost and even craving your ex in a way that mirrors addiction.

Studies taken place in New York showed that when participants were shown images of their former partners, the same part of the brain lit up as those who are addicted to the likes of cocaine. Such dramatic and sudden shifts in hormones lead to a person physically craving their former partner once the relationship is over.

How to recover from heartbreak

TRT UK recommends taking the following steps to begin to recover from heartbreak:

  • Meditation has been proven to lower cortisol, increase serotonin and improve mood. When encountering upsetting situations, meditation can serve as a great tool to aid in balancing both hormones and mood

  • Consuming nutritious meals is as beneficial to the mind as it is the body. Vegetables, quality protein, oily fish, and whole foods work to balance hormones and aid in lifting mood

  • Talking to loved ones about how you feel can work wonders for your mental health. Remember to always check in with those around you at least once a day

Help and support:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.

  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).

  • CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.

  • The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email

  • Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0808 801 0525 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on