Neil Sedaka said it best in his 1960's hit: "Breaking Up is Hard to Do." Who doesn't have that one painful breakup story? The one where they spent a week in bed, leaving only to to refill their wine glass and chocolate stash? Until you've experienced real heartbreak, it's hard to understand just how horrible breakups can really be.

If you're going through a tough breakup, you can at take comfort in the fact that these feelings are totally normal. We did some research to find out what happens to your body when you experience heartbreak, and the results might surprise you.


In a 2011 study at Columbia University, researchers found that when participants missed their ex during a breakup, the feelings that they experience were real cravings. In fact, the areas of the brain that are active when missing your ex are the same ones that cocaine addicts experience during withdrawal.

Physical Pain

If you've ever felt physical heartbreak during a breakup, there may be a scientific reason behind it. In a 2010 study published in the Journal of Neurophysiology, researchers found that when participants were shown photos of their exes, activity is induced in the part of the brain that also registers physical pain.

Changes in Appetite

Many people experience a change in appetite while experiencing heartbreak. Many people experience a loss of appetite, due to excess cortisol shooting into your system that diverts blood away from your digestive track, leaving you with gastronomical discomfort. Others turn to binge eating as a way to seek temporary happiness through food.

Skin Breakouts

Breakups undoubtedly are a cause of major stress. According to skin specialist Sonya Dakkar, your body reacts to extreme stress if by directing blood flow and oxygen to areas that are vital for fighting stress and withdraws from other areas, including the skin.

Enlarged Heart

When you go through a breakup, your heart actually enlarges temporarily. The condition, identified by the American Heart Association, is called broken heart syndrome. Broken heart syndrome typically clears up within a few weeks, but can lead to cardiovascular difficulties if prolonged.

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