How Does Being in Love Affect Your Body?

Heart-shaped candies.Love is no simple feeling; in fact, being in love with someone can cause a complex swirl of different emotions, like happiness, desire, and excitement, as well as some potentially negative feelings, such as anxiety and over-attachment. These emotions are linked to several chemicals and hormones produced by the body, which can result in a variety of mental and physical effects.

Many of the physical effects of love can be positive in the long term, including everything from a healthy sex drive to a decreased risk for several chronic diseases, reduced pain, and even an increased likelihood of a longer life span. However, there are some potentially negative effects, too, such as poorer judgement (making risky choices to satisfy or impress the person you love) and anxious over-attachment (agonizing over things such as what the other person is doing or how long it’s taking them to respond to you).

When you’re in love, it can make you feel euphoric, particularly when you receive affection from the person you’re in love with. This happens because of an increase in dopamine levels. Dopamine controls the brain’s pleasure and reward centers and is part of many of our body’s functions, such as learning, awareness, mood changes, sleep, arousal, and even movement. However, dopamine levels can also contribute to the development of an addiction to feelings of love, particularly in the “infatuation” stage when those feelings are strongest; this can potentially make it difficult to form a lasting relationship.

Aside from dopamine, hormones such as adrenaline and norepinephrine, which can make your palms sweat and cause your heart to race, are also shown to increase when you’re in love with someone. Additionally, when people develop a feeling of attachment to the person they’re in love with, it can trigger the development of hormones such as vasopressin and oxytocin, which create feelings of security and comfort.

A healthy, committed, long-lasting relationship will produce more good effects than bad ones over the long term, but an important part of maintaining such a relationship is noticing and taking proactive steps to manage negative thoughts or behaviors as they occur. One of the best ways to do this is with the help of a licensed psychiatrist. To schedule an appointment at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Mental Health Clinic, please call (718) 206-5575.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.