How Breaking Up Is Like Drug Withdrawal To Your Brain

Breakups can be emotionally and physically exhausting, but what happens to your brain when you fall out of love?

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Reward, Motivation, and Emotion Systems Associated With Early-Stage Intense Romantic Love (Journal of Neurophysiology)
"Early-stage romantic love can induce euphoria, is a cross-cultural phenomenon, and is possibly a developed form of a mammalian drive to pursue preferred mates. It has an important influence on social behaviors that have reproductive and genetic consequences. To determine which reward and motivation systems may be involved, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging and studied 10 women and 7 men who were intensely "in love" from 1 to 17 mo."

Neural correlates of long-term intense romantic love (Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience)
"The present study examined the neural correlates of long-term intense romantic love using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Ten women and 7 men married an average of 21.4 years underwent fMRI while viewing facial images of their partner. Control images included a highly familiar acquaintance; a close, long-term friend; and a low-familiar person."

Regional Brain Activity in Women Grieving a Romantic Relationship Breakup (American Journal of Psychiatry)
"Separation from loved ones commonly leads to grief reactions. In some individuals, grief can evolve into a major depressive episode. The brain regions involved in grief have not been specifically studied. The authors studied brain activity in women actively grieving a recent romantic relationship breakup."