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What to Know About Lovesickness

Medically Reviewed by Dany Paul Baby, MD on November 14, 2022

People often describe lovesickness as being similar to a broken heart. However, being lovesick refers to a more profound emotional state where you start to obsess over your inability to be with a specific person. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Lovesickness?

Love can be a beautiful thing, but there’s no denying that it can also have an unpleasant side. Lovesickness refers to the strong feelings that arise from being unable to be with your loved one physically or emotionally. This can originate from many situations, such as:

  • Not being able to confess your love to the person
  • Your loved one passing away
  • Feeling unrequited love
  • Breaking up with your loved one

Although lovesickness isn’t an officially recognized disorder, experts agree it can considerably impact your body. But, more importantly, being lovesick often leads to changes in your behavior — sometimes to an extent you didn’t think you could reach.

Lovesickness can feel and sound similar to limerence — a state of obsessive attachment to a specific person. Limerence, however, is more closely related to obsession than real love. As neither condition is officially recognized by any medical standard, it’s hard to tell between the two.

Lovesickness isn’t a new phenomenon — medics, physicians, and scientists have been studying it for the past 2000 years. While the exact definition and treatment have changed throughout the years, the symptoms remain mostly the same.

Lovesick Symptoms

While many believe that sadness is the only “lovesick feeling,” the reality is that lovesickness can manifest itself in many different ways. Some of these symptoms are expected consequences of a broken heart, but others show more impulsive behavior that wasn’t present before. Here are some of the usual lovesick symptoms:

You may also experience intense sadness, grief, and frustration when you can’t be near the person you love. Similarly, you may develop passionate sexual feelings for them or the need to constantly touch them.

Lovesickness can cause physical symptoms as well. For example, scientists point out that when you’re lovesick, your heart rate will accelerate when thinking about the object of your love. Plus, your pupils may dilate — a typical sign of being in love.

Yet, lovesickness can also cause symptoms that would usually be considered positive. For example, elevated self-esteem, significantly improved moods, and other “favorable” signs are common in the early stages of lovesickness. After all, it’s important to remember that love isn’t always rational.

Lovesickness Psychology and Neurology

As most people know, love results from many chemical reactions in your brain. Experts point out that human attraction is mainly related to dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenalin — three neurotransmitters associated with sexual arousal. However, these three compounds are also associated with motivation and obsessive thought patterns.

When these neurotransmitters and other love-related compounds start to abound in the brain, you may experience obsessive behaviors. Inability to sleep, constantly waiting for your loved one to call you, and disregard for other responsibilities are typical at this stage.

At this point, your behavior will be significantly affected by how your loved one reacts to your feelings. If everything goes well, the chemicals in your brain will start to level off, slowly returning you to your usual self.

However, if your love is unrequited, impossible, or you can’t express your love to the person, the previously-mentioned chemicals get disrupted. This may eventually lead to uncommon, compulsive, and potentially dangerous behaviors. For instance, you may wander for extended periods near your loved one’s home.

Can Lovesickness Be Dangerous?

While lovesickness is relatively common, certain factors may lead it to cause potentially dangerous behaviors. From breaking into your loved one’s home to harming yourself, lovesickness can trigger several conducts that may harm you or the person you love.

However, experts point out that most people won’t get to this stage of lovesickness. Instead, these behaviors are more common among people who were unstable before being lovesick. For example, unstable, lovesick people may:

  • Get depressed and jealous over small things
  • Check their loved one’s phone and computer
  • Start to stalk that person
  • Steal their belongings

While these behaviors may not seem extremely serious, uncontrolled lovesickness can quickly get out of control under certain conditions. At this point, the lovesick person’s behaviors will start to affect the lives of everyone involved severely. These conducts may include:

  • Breaking into the loved person’s home
  • Getting violent when near that person
  • Self-harming
  • Disregarding other responsibilities in their life

The most severe cases of lovesickness can end up in suicide and homicide. However, remember that most people won’t get dangerous behaviors from lovesickness. But if you suspect you have an underlying condition that could worsen lovesickness, check with a licensed therapist.

How to Get Over Being Lovesick

Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic cure for lovesickness. The strong emotions that arise from a broken heart need time to heal. However, there are a few ways to accelerate this process and set you on the right track to return to your usual self.

The most important step you need to get over lovesickness is distracting your mind. Picking up a new hobby, exercising, and focusing on your daily responsibilities are fantastic ways to get your loved one out of your head. Experts also recommend avoiding that person as much as possible and taking care of your sexual urges whenever possible.

If you can, try to book some therapy sessions to treat the topic with a professional. A therapist can help you discover the roots of your lovesickness while helping you get over it as soon as possible.

However, if your lovesickness is getting out of control, seek help as soon as possible. Even if it’s only a family member or a close friend, talking with another person will take you out of your struggle. In the most severe cases, don’t hesitate to call a counseling hotline to get expert help.

Show Sources

SOURCES:
Frontiers in Pharmacology: “Ethnopharmacology of Love.”
GoodTherapy: “Are You ‘Lovesick’?”
Journal of Patient Experience: “Treatment of Limerence Using a Cognitive Behavioral Approach: A Case Study.”
Queensland Health: “What is love?”
The Psychologist: “Crazy for you.”

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