Love is a magical feeling that sometimes makes us happy and sometimes sad. But does love affect your mental health, and what are those effects of love? Let’s find out!
It is generally accepted that falling in love is a beautiful feeling that cheers you up, makes you fly, and feels great.
Nowadays, dating sites make it easier to find love for everyone. But some people associate love with addiction, and it is very strong. Isn’t it harmful?
We will help you figure out whether falling in love affects mental health. And if so, how: rather positively or negatively? What are the effects of love on a person? Let’s learn more about the good and bad effects of love together!
What Is Romantic Love and Why Is It Needed?
Each person represents love in their own way, so it is not easy to study it. To make life a little easier for themselves, most researchers of this phenomenon agreed to adhere to the three-component theory of love proposed in 1986 by the American psychologist Robert Sternberg.
According to this theory, love is like a triangle that rests on intimacy, passion, and commitment. Intimacy is the emotional aspect of love associated with the enjoyment of a relationship.
Passion is driven by physical attraction. And commitment is an intellectual aspect related to the conscious decision to maintain a long-term relationship.
At the physiological level, romantic love is a complex set of hormonal reactions that the brain controls like an orchestra, according to a group of scientists led by anthropologist Helen Fisher of Rutgers University.
Moreover, intimacy, passion, and commitment provide their own set of hormones and neurotransmitters. These effects of love in relationships affect both the mental and physical health of a person in love.
Love is a beautiful, light feeling. It has a very beneficial effect on people. People in love are less stressed. Everyone who has ever experienced or is experiencing a sense of falling in love confirms this.
Love can heal. Patients who are in love are more likely to recover faster than those who are depressed. It has long been known that the state of mutual love can strengthen the immune system. Let’s figure out how love affects your mental health.
Love Makes You Want to Have Sex with Your Partner
Obvious, isn’t it? But this has a medical basis. When we fall in love, a part of the brain – the hypothalamus – stimulates the body to produce many sex hormones: testosterone and estrogen.
Most scientists believe that testosterone enhances sex drive in both men and women. The chemical effects of love on estrogen are not as strong, but some women report that sex drive increases during ovulation when estrogen levels are highest.
At the same time, an excessive level of sex hormones partially suppresses the work of the brain’s frontal lobes, which are responsible for critical thinking and rational behavior.
It helps to be fascinated by a partner – and at the same time makes you commit irrational acts.
Love Enhances Affection for a Partner
Want some facts about the effects of love at first sight? The hypothalamus of lovers strenuously produces the attachment hormone oxytocin.
The more oxytocin, the stronger the attachment. Sometimes, when you fall in love, oxytocin is produced so much that smokers in love weaken the craving for cigarettes.
Conversely, if the lover is faced with a refusal to share feelings, the craving for cigarettes and alcohol increases.
Love Makes Lovers Less Irritable
According to some reports, lovers who began a romantic relationship 2.5 months before the experiment suppressed impulsive behavior due to anger almost effortlessly.
The researchers who established this fact suggested that this ability helps to form strong relationships.
Love Cheers You up
In the early stages of falling in love, the hypothalamus produces more of the neurotransmitter dopamine. High concentrations of dopamine make lovers feel euphoric.
But we also have serotonin responsible for other earthly pleasures – like the pleasure of eating and the desire to sleep.
As dopamine levels increase, serotonin levels automatically decrease. In lovers, serotonin becomes as low as in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorders, in which people are forced to repeat the same actions over and over again.
That is why the lover gets hung up on the subject of love, forgetting to eat and sleep.
Effects of love in marriage are really like an addiction: especially active brain regions associated with romantic love overlap with brain regions that are responsible for drug addiction.
But there is still a difference in the total brain activity in a drug addict and the brain of a lover – and this affects human behavior.
Drug addicted people avoid contact, and lovers, on the contrary, become more socially active than they were before falling in love.
Love Keeps Nerve Cells Alive
The researchers found that in the blood of lovers, the level of neurotrophins – proteins that take care of neurons –was actually higher than in ordinary people.
Moreover, the stronger the love, the higher the effects of love on the brain. When the analysis was repeated a year later, the level of neurotrophins returned to normal in both those who separated and those who remained in a couple.
Sure, it would be great to conclude that falling in love improves brain health, but that cannot be done from this study. Until other researchers prove that increased neurotrophin levels heal neurons so that people become smarter or more creative, this discovery will remain just an interesting fact.
Love Relieves Stress
When strong honeymoon emotions subside, oxytocin, a hormone that enhances intimacy between people, begins to be produced in addition to dopamine. By the way, oxytocin stimulates energy and is responsible for producing breast milk in a nursing mother.
In a state of love, oxytocin induces a feeling of reciprocity in partners and affects their mental health. When people feel safe, their stress levels drop.
Just being around someone who cares for us can lower cortisol and adrenaline levels and calm down. If you are away from your loved one, experts advise you to think about them, talk more, or just send a message – this helps a lot to create inner comfort.
Shared holidays also strengthen the positive effects of love feelings on the emotional health of lovers and are a great occasion to remind your partner of your feelings once again and spend time together.
Especially such small joys are necessary for families with children. In the hustle and bustle of the younger generation, parents often forget about what unites them and what strong feelings they experienced at the dawn of their love.
Love Reduces Anxiety
Some studies indicate that the effects of lack of love are harmful to human health. They can intensify inflammatory processes in the body and even activate pain centers.
In addition, loneliness stimulates anxiety, cortisol, and adrenaline levels rise, making people insecure and stressed.
By the way, you can feel lonely even next to someone, for example, when partners quarrel. Therefore, every time you feel that a conflict is inevitable, try to smooth it out at the very beginning not to intensify the situation and not irritate each other.
A simple conversation of loving people is a good helper. Let the children see by the example of parents that the situation can be resolved without shouting and arguing.
In addition, family anxiety is transmitted to children and can negatively affect their learning and relationships.
More commonly referred to by researchers as romantic love, falling in love affects physical and mental health – and quite obviously.
This influence cannot be called unequivocally positive because love gives joy and pushes us to action. But romantic love plays an essential biological role in helping us build strong families.
So from an evolutionary point of view, this feeling is helpful rather than harmful.
How does love affect your mental health? Please share your thoughts about the effects of love on health!