Here’s another blog to continue on the theme of love but this time it might be more to the taste of some of you cynics out there.
As it turns out there is an increasing amount of scientific evidence behind the science of love sickness. Some physiologists have taken a closer looks at love’s outward habits and have also had a peak inside the human brain.
Studies have shown that when you first fall in love, that biochemical activity in the brain changes dramatically. Serotonin levels plummet and instead the brain is flooded with dopamine. This leads to a natural high, similar to an addictive drug, that creates powerful links in your mind between pleasure and the object of your affection. In the same way to a drug addiction it also leaves you seeking that love hit over and over again. Furthermore, Serge Brand of the Psychiatric University Clinics in Basel Switzerland, decided to take closer look at how love can change a persons behaviour. In his study he found that the lovestruck needed less sleep, made compulsive decisions, spent too much money, were preoccupied as well as obsessively checking for text messages and e-mails. Some physiologists now believe that the chemical and behavioural changes that occur in the brain of a love sick puppy seem to reflect some aspects obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or people who are mildly insane.
Other emotions linked to love are also influenced by chemical changes in the brain. For example, lust is driven by the sex hormone testosterone which can go totally off-kilter and other hormones such as, cortisol and phenylethylamine which lead to increased excitement. However, don’t be fooled in thinking that it is only those new to love that are governed by their hormones. Couples who have been together for several years have exhibited increased levels of oxytocin and vasopressin when shown a picture of their sweetheart. Furthermore, oxytocin is produced when couples have sex, touch, kiss and massage each other and is believed to be essential for forming trusting relationships as the hormone make us over come “social fear”, in turn making us more trusting.
Unfortunately, it’s not all wine and roses when it comes to love. Those intense romantic emotions can quickly swing from ecstasy and delight to torment and depression. When the reward centres of the brain fail to get their repeated dopamine love hit, painful emotions such as jealousy, rage, rejection and hate can develop.
So love is perfect and love is sweet but apparently it’s also just a chronic disease - love sickness.