What exactly does it mean to have a “broken heart?” Is it a legitimate medical condition, or merely a side effect of emotional disturbance? Is it more psychological than biological? Is it possible to cure?
As with most things concerning human nature, a broken heart is a multi-faceted issue that cannot be lumped into a single category. It can most accurately be described as a conglomeration of multiple factors. These factors are better understood if they are examined individually.
The internet is a buzzing arena of advice when it comes to love and relationships. Broken heart quotes, sentimental websites and online chatrooms are frequently created and visited to help those who are suffering from heartbreak.
However, these online sources fail to educate audiences on one of the most fundamental aspects of heartache. By doing this, sufferers are not given a comprehensive understanding of their condition. The first thing to realize about a broken heart is that it is a genuine medical condition.
Broken Heart Syndrome
Believe it or not, this medical condition is known as Broken Heart Syndrome, and you can read more about it in this article on MayoClinic.org. It is a temporary heart complication brought about by stressful conditions such as divorce, a breakup, or the death of a loved one. The heart pumps blood with unusually forceful contractions, caused by its reaction to a strong surge of stress hormones. This temporary disruption is what inflicts the ache that is often associated with a broken heart.
Broken Heart Syndrome Vs. Heart Attacks
According to this article on WebMD.com, Broken Heart Syndrome can often be mistaken for a heart attack. However, its symptoms always follow extreme stress, whereas a heart attack can occur with little or no external provocation. Listed below are some basic variations between the two conditions:
- The EKG (test that records your heart’s electric activity) does not look the same as the EKG results for someone having a heart attack.
- Blood tests show no physical signs of heart damage and no signs of blockage in the coronary arteries.
- Tests demonstrate “ballooning” of the left ventricle.
- Recovery time for Broken Heart Syndrome is usually within a matter of days. Recovery time for a heart attack, by contrast, can take up to a month.
Although the depictions of heartbreak in literature can appear dramatic and overdone, experts state that dying from heartbreak is actually within the realm of scientific possibility. People have been known to die from what seems to be, based on all physical analysis, nothing more than a broken heart.
The Psychological Explanation
Although the physical manifestations of a broken heart recede within a week, the emotional and psychological trauma are quite another matter.
A broken heart can be cured by practicing good thoughts, as many of its roots lie in psychological factors such as memories and guilt. Because of this, experts have accumulated tips throughout the years that are designed to equip sufferers with a series of mental techniques. The goal is to shed further light on how to get over a broken heart, as well as to demonstrate to sufferers that the road to healing is not as obscure as they may think. Here are a few tools that can help mend a broken heart faster:
When you are suffering from a broken heart, this goes against all of your natural inclinations. Most of us would rather run from pain than fling ourselves into its arms. However, burying your emotions will only allow all that negative energy to smoulder beneath the surface. After a while, they will reach an excruciating boil that may break you worse than a confrontation would have. Sometimes, a firm acceptance of pain is the best way to begin to repair your broken heart.
You do not want to indulge in extreme fantasies, but thinking about the good memories you had is normal, and even healthy. Recollection may bring pain, anger or bitterness, but repressing these memories and emotions would only make things worse. Simply let your emotions, as contradictory and powerful as they may seem, have their course.
Crying is not a weakness. Grieving is a natural process, and there is no need to be ashamed of it. In fact, there are many physiological advantages that can result from weeping. For instance, some experts have evaluated “the healing power of tears” and have discovered that tears contain biochemical byproducts that are very beneficiary. Weeping can remove toxic substances from the body and relieve it of stress.
When you are buckling beneath the pain of a broken heart, it is natural to want the agony to pass as soon as possible. Yet it is important to recognize that mending a broken heart can take a while. Be patient with yourself. It does not matter if the healing takes three months or three years. Quietly take the pain as it comes, and do not get angry for feeling the rollercoaster of emotions that you are definitely going to feel throughout this process.
Other Considerations: Psychological Benefits of Religion
It is always helpful to gain some new perspective, and many people attempt to achieve this through religion. For them, religious doctrines serve as an unbiased method that can provide them with further advice on how to handle their heartbreak.
Buddhism, for example, advises one to accept the fact that loss is inevitable. What is required is acceptance and subsequent detachment. Christianity also addresses heartache, although it treats it in a more sympathetic light than the Buddhist. Rather than denouncing or dismissing suffering, Christianity provides ways to channel heartache through prayer (i.e., though the Psalms). In Islam, many verses of the Quran also refer to patience, acceptance and prayer as ways to mend a broken heart and to ease the pain that it causes.
Among the more thought-provoking explanations to prolonged heartbreak pain is the role played by modern society in augmenting this feeling and exacerbating it. This may seem like a bold assertion, but a closer look provokes a rather disturbing implication: namely, that society pressures us to pursue love at all costs – even if that cost is our overall happiness. Furthermore, the societal notion of “love” is really nothing but the shameless, over-sexed exploitation of natural human instincts. When we are exposed to these pressures – whether they are from people we know, from the media, from movies, or from music – we are often led into making uninformed decisions about our relationships, and we are also often left lingering with our pain longer than we have to.
How do these factors affect those suffering from a broken heart? The problem is that society’s attitude does not equip men and women with a realistic view of love in the first place. They are often doomed to fail from the start. We are taught that “love is all that matters,” but this “love” referred to is based on something that is not concrete. When physical attraction ceases, the involved parties suddenly feel as if they no longer have a purpose.
This does not suggest that heartache would never occur if we lived in different times. The point is merely to suggest that society’s unrealistic viewpoint of love builds relationships on an unsteady foundation from the start.
No matter what others may say, you are not a failure if your relationship does not work out. Instead, it is important to remember that relationships and heartaches are simply a part of life. Facing them will enable you to confront your pain, overcome new challenges, and emerge stronger than ever before.
Under all circumstances, you must believe that this pain is only temporary and – no matter what caused it – believe that this, too, shall pass.