Addicted to love?

By • Published: October 4th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

You can’t sleep. You can’t eat. There’s no doubt, you are in deep. Do these words sound familiar? These are lyrics from a popular 1980’s song titled “Addicted To Love”… and also powerful emotions sometimes associated with being in love.

Now researchers say new evidence supports the song’s title and lyrics. A new study examined the brains of fifteen recently broken-hearted college age women and men who were still in love with the person who rejected them.

Researchers showed the broken-hearted participants a picture of their rejecting lover. Their responses included love, despair, good and bad memories and wondering why this happened.

Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to evaluate the area of the brain that was activated by this emotional experience. The MRIs revealed that the rejected lovers showed activity in the regions of the brain linked with rewards, addiction, cravings, control of emotions, feelings of attachment, and physical pain and distress.

The results provide clues as to why some people have a hard time accepting a break-up, and why some people have extreme emotional responses such as severe depression or suicide. Researchers say romantic love is a wonderful addiction when things are going well… and a horrible addiction when things are going poorly.

The good news for the broken-hearted? Researchers say time seems to ease love’s addictive powers. The more time that had passed since the breakup, the less brain activity was observed in the region associated with attachment.

So the next time you’re singing along to some of your favorite songs, pay attention to the lyrics. They might just be words of wisdom.