We have all felt it—our heart jump when we get a call or text from someone we are interested in, our breath and heart rate quicken when we are romantically interested in someone and they reciprocate…. In short, when we feel ‘in luuve” with someone.
When you fall in love, it does some insane things to you. Sound irrational? Well, technically, it is. Being “stuck by Cupid’s arrow” may take your breath away and make your heart go pitter-patter report sexual wellness specialists at Loyola University Health System. Here are just five of the bizarre things that happen to your brain when you fall in love:
- You become obsessed.
Most people will tell you that they’re happy when they fall in love and MRI scans indicate that love lights up the pleasure center of the brain. But that’s impossible. Research shows that serotonin (the happiness hormone) actually plummets when he or she falls in love. One physician discovered that when you fall in love, your serotonin level can fall to the level of someone with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). In other words, you’re not happy—you’re obsessed. That’s why you, or your teenager, can’t stop looking at the phone awaiting a call or a text.
- Cortisol and other hormone levels go haywire.
Research also found that at the same time your serotonin drops, your cortisol is rising. Cortisol is a stress hormone that prepares your body for “fight or flight.” High levels can make you feel energized. That’s why someone in love feels they have “butterflies in their stomach” and have a difficult time sleeping or eating. When your stress hormones skyrocket it becomes difficult to digest or rest. Dopamine creates feelings of euphoria while adrenaline and norepinephrine are responsible for the pitter-patter of the heart, restlessness and overall preoccupation that go along with experiencing love.
- Anxiety decreases.
Now, here’s the weird part. With your cortisol at super-high levels, you would expect to feel anxious, right? Actually, you don’t. Researchers at University College London found that when you fall in love your amygdala and other parts of your brain deactivate. What that means is the alarm system in your brain that registers anxiety is in hiatus, and you feel alive and energized without a care in the world.
- You lose your judgment.
It’s been said throughout the ages that “love is blind.” Really love makes you function as is your brain is damaged. The researchers at University College London found that not only does your amygdala deactivate, but your ventromedial prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that’s responsible for critical judgment, checks out and takes a vacation. This is part of why people in love seem “spacy” and disconnected with reality, because they are!
- Love makes you “get stupid.”
As if the first four symptoms weren’t aren’t enough, researchers at Leiden University in the Netherlands discovered that you actually lose cognitive function when you fall in love. That’s right, you actually lose some intellectual functions processes that allow you to perceive and comprehend ideas.
Even though all of these factors don’t paint a picture of love being a “good thing” the positive feelings and psychological wellness feeling that accompany love far outweigh the negatives.
For more help: contact Dr. Lisa M. Webb at the Body & Mind Consulting Associates Group: www.bodymindtn.com. Her latest book: “Boardroom to Bedroom, Using your Executive Success for your Marriage” is available at www.amazon.com
1.Mary Lynn, DO, co-director of the Loyola Sexual Wellness Clinic and assistant professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, SSOM; Loyola University Health System. “What falling in love does to your heart and brain.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140206155244.htm>.
2.Pat Mumby, PhD, co-director of the Loyola Sexual Wellness Clinic and professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurosciences, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (SSOM)
3. Andreas Bartels and Semir Zeki, University of Pisa and Maslar, D.