During romantic love, your brain acts obsessed, depressed and stressed

What can scientists know about love by looking at your brain? A lot, says psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz. When people remember having experienced different types of love – romantic, motherly, etc. – brain scans (fMRI) show which regions of the brain are activated. As different regions are responsible for the release of different hormones, it is possible to establish biological similarities between romantic love and other emotional states that activate the brain in similar ways. The results are not what you might expect.


We’ve heard that the experience of lust affects the brain in the same way as cocaine: a major pleasure hormone (dopamine) is released and the similarity is easy to understand, although confusing the effects of drug addiction. with the results of romantic love would be a mistake. . The so-called hug chemical (oxytocin) is also released by the brain during times of romantic love, causing partners to want to be physically close to each other. And the intensity of romantic feelings releases a chemical also found during times of emotional stress (vasopressin). Perhaps for the best, these intense feelings don’t last long.

Dr. Saltz recommends a waiting period before making any lasting commitments to your partner – time commitments, financial commitments, genetic commitments – which gives your brain a chance to adjust to the new and possibly less romantic circumstances of your relationship. . And while that stability can be a welcome change from the obsession, depression, and stress of romantic love, Saltz has some basic tips for maintaining feelings of romance and passion throughout your long relationship. term.

Gail Saltz: Not all loves are created equal when it comes to the brain. Studies have looked at the activity in the brain when recalling passionate or romantic love versus maternal love and found that different centers are definitely more active. In other words, they put people in the working MRI and they said think of your partner or think of your lover and some areas light up. Or they said think about your mother and different lighted areas, which is important because different areas are responsible for releasing different neurotransmitters which then come to affect your future states of feeling and future behaviors. So, during romantic or passionate love, what happens from the point of view of neurotransmitters, those chemicals that are released when you have this particular experience? Dopamine is on the rise. Dopamine is essentially the reward neurotransmitter. So it’s a neurotransmitter that’s released when you have a new or new experience, but especially empowering experiences like gambling or something that is really addictive. In fact, literally addicting is the neurotransmitter if you snort cocaine that is the most responsible for wow, that was awesome and I totally want to do it again. So it’s a neurotransmitter that definitely increases when you’re in the throes of romantic or passionate love. And what does this mean for you?

This means that you are going to experience the feeling of being addicted to your partner. And in fact, it is also the neurotransmitter that increases in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Does this mean that you are going to develop OCD? No. But it does mean that you are probably going to be obsessed with your partner. There is another neurotransmitter called serotonin. It’s definitely a neurotransmitter that’s active for obsessive-compulsive disorder, and that means you probably are – and for depression. Are you getting depressed? No, really not, but what you are doing is a hallmark of depression called rumination. So you think of your partner over and over again in this really obsessive way. And if your partner is estranged from you, you’re going to have that desire right where you are, you know, wanting to be with him much like you’d want to be with a drug if it was taken from you and you were already addicted to it. There are also changes in other neurotransmitters. So if you are physically with your partner, the neurotransmitter oxytocin, which is sort of known as the neurotransmitter of cuddles, makes you feel warm, cozy, and deeply connected with that person. He is especially released after orgasm, so, you know, if you have sex with your partner and things are going well, you will feel very attached to him, extremely intimate with him in part because of this neurotransmitter. .

There are other neurotransmitters that are also changing. Vasopressin which has to do with stress level. And so there is this whole panoply of neurotransmitter release that makes you feel very obsessed, very addicted, constantly thinking about them, very intimately, cuddly, attached, and stressed out actually. It is a stressful condition to some extent to be truly in your partner.

So all of these neurotransmitters can certainly be released in lust, okay. What I’m going to say is like the first step maybe. And that is why, to a certain extent, it may be good to give him a little time before investing too much in that person, because you can get into some kind of wonderful addictive neurotransmitter state and not make it. the best partner for you. And before you basically invest your resources, you know, whether it’s emotional resources, financial resources, and genetic resources in terms of, say, having children. You want to give that first shot of time so that you can have a reason as to whether this is a good choice of mate. In terms of supporting science, what is a good choice of partner? In the long run, it seems that having very similar values ​​and to some extent many similarities in general often leads to a longer term ability to maintain the relationship. And why is that? And I’m not talking about sexual compatibility now. I’m not talking about that wonderful passionate feeling, but I’m really talking about sustaining any relationship. It’s easier when you have fewer bridges to cross. So over time, as this whole neurotransmitter thing settles down, what’s left to be able to keep your relationship going in the future?

If you argue over everything because you basically disagree on most things, that’s a challenge. I’m not saying it’s a challenge that can’t be managed and I certainly wouldn’t say for example that opposites can’t be attracted because they often do. But the question is what do you do with it on the road? If you are of a different religion. If you believe differently how much needs to be managed. If you have different goals in terms of family education, career aspirations, how you want to live your life for the long term. These are bridges that must be crossed with a lot of communication and a lot of compromise. To some extent, studies support the less compromises you have to make, the easier. And, you know, it’s very – it’s not surprising, is it. It’s easy to understand. So choosing someone with similarities will compromise less down the road. And then the question becomes how good you and your partner are individually at communication, at compromise, at being able to make choices that really aren’t your first choice for the service of a greater good.

The thing about all this release of neurotransmitters is that it’s very prevalent in new passionate love affairs but it’s hard to maintain and that’s why, you know, we talk about people all the time like this. was awesome at first and then like where the fire is going to go. And this is because the state does not tend to stay in time. It can go on for several years actually, but in order to maintain the kind of passionate love that most people make, especially if they are to marry and want it for life, you have to really work to fuel some of these neurotransmitters. So for example I could tell someone who came to me and said, you know, we just aren’t, you know, we love each other but we don’t feel in love anymore and how do we keep- we fire? I am going to tell you to do things like a novel romantic activity because it will increase dopamine. And that’s going to help keep that whole system in place for you to some extent. I’m going to tell you to have sex more frequently because – and I’m going to tell you how to have better sex so that you can hopefully have an orgasm with your cock so you can release some of that. oxytocin and keep that feeling of really intimate cuddly bonding together. So looking at these different areas and trying to advise you to do things that increase neurotransmitters the same way your brain automatically does when you first fall in love.


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