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How Your Body Reacts to a Breakup

Two weeks ago, I would have told you I was happy, healthy, and strong. Fast-forward to today and my body feels weak, I have no appetite, and I am perpetually exhausted. What could have caused all these changes?

The answer is a breakup. I felt it in my heart, the same way we all know, but I was caught off guard by the way my body reacted. The physical symptoms didn’t hurt worse, but they definitely weren’t expected. I wasn’t the only one of my friends going through a breakup this season, and in talking to them, I became aware that it wasn’t just my body going through this. Your body can feel a breakup just as hard as your heart, and it’s helpful to know the reasoning behind it.

Chest Pain

Trust me, it’s not really your heart splitting open. Emotional pain can activate the same neural pathways in your brain that fire when you experience physical pain. Not only this, but your hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, are likely flooding your system. This can cause heart palpitations that give you that heart-pounding feeling. When you hear the term fight-or-flight, this is essentially what your body is going through.

Cold or Flu Symptoms

You can thank your hormones again for this one. They are going crazy and leaving your immune system vulnerable. This means you’re more susceptible to catching whatever bug is flying around in the air this season.

Gastrointestinal Unpleasantness

This is the nicest possible way to say “diarrhea,” and it doesn’t stop there! All of the cortisol firing into your system diverts blood away from your digestive tract. You might also find yourself with a lack of appetite or stomach pain.

Feelings of Withdrawal

Kesha sang it and we all know it: love is a drug. When you’re in love, your body flows with the chemicals dopamine and oxytocin, and when the breakup hits, they leave fast. You can go from feelings of happiness to desperation just as swiftly as your ex slipped out of your life.


When it comes down to it, your body isn’t lying to you. Breakups suck and you will feel it in all kinds of ways. You aren’t imagining the pain—both your body and your heart are feeling it. No matter how hard the hit, all breaks heal eventually. Your body will return to normal, and we can all hope that our hearts follow suit.


Sources: 1/2/3/4

Meet Rachel Watson! Originally from Prince George, she moved to Victoria to start her undergraduate degree in 2016 and is now in her fourth year. Rachel's major is linguistics and she is pursuing a minor in psychology. She is elated to be one of the two Campus Correspondents for her lovely chapter at the University of Victoria.
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