Explained: ‘Broken heart syndrome’ and how to deal with it

In medicine, ‘Broken heart syndrome’ refers to a form of ‘Stress Induced Cardiomyopathy’. However, today the term is used in a more conventional sense; as an indicator of the emotional numbness experienced following a break-up

Explained: 'Broken heart syndrome' and how to deal with it
Image source: Google

A ‘heart break’ is perhaps one of the most universally established terms for conveying distress. Its use can vary from being used as a substitute for a dish gone wrong in the kitchen, by fans to emphasise the frustration when your team loses, by parents to underline the anger of disappointing results and used by most to symbolise the emotional pain of a recently ended relationship.

In medicine, ‘Broken heart syndrome’ refers to a form of ‘Stress Induced Cardiomyopathy’. We shall however use the term in its more conventional sense:

Explained: 'Broken heart syndrome' and how to deal with it
Dr Kedar Tilwe

As an indicator of the emotional numbness experienced following a break-up.

The process that your psyche goes through following the breakdown of a relationship (in both forced and intentional circumstances) is deeply personal.

It would depend on the nature, duration and strength of the relationship in question; your personality and previous experiences; your support system as well as the cause for break-up. Its symptoms may vary from feeling ‘low’ to full-fledged depression.

Often self-doubt, self-reproach, tearfulness, feeling emotionally exhausted, sleeplessness, appetite changes, etc. may also be seen. If not dealt with appropriately it can lead to a long term fear of commitment and inability to be involved in a healthy and satisfying relationship.

Here are some ways to handle a ‘heart-break’:

  • Re-prioritise your aims: Make a list of all the things that you wanted to do and start pursuing them or just focus on concentrating at work. But get going!
  • Carry on: No matter how bleak things seem, just going through your daily routine will help you get over some of the pain
  • Smile: Even if it is just lip service
  • Cry if you feel like it: It helps reduce your stress and will help you vent.
  • Count your blessings: I know it seems difficult at the moment; but take your time and make a list of the things you are thankful for. They are the few things that matter
  • Get a hobby or a pet: Both will serve as distraction and sometimes a bit of unconditional love can provide all the motivation you require to break the vicious circle.
  • Learn: Use the experience to understand you better and improve the chances of having a successful and fulfilling relationship in the future.

Enlist help: Help is always available to those who ask for it; don’t hesitate in reaching out to your friends, family, mentor and colleagues. They already sense that something is amiss and will probably be happy to enable you to get over the tough time.

Finally, remember that your pursuit of happiness is not defined by a single relationship but rather by the ability to create a small piece of joy daily for yourself and all the wonderful people in your life.

The author is a Consultant Psychiatrist at the Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi