February 14, 2019
Clinical Contributors to this Story
Emad Noor, M.D. contributes to topics such as Neurology.
By: Katie Lynch
Love can be a joyous and wondrous time, with various health benefits, however it doesn’t always start out that way. In the beginning of a relationship you may find yourself experiencing erratic feelings or doing things out of character – spouts of stark jealousy, crying and obsessive fixations or even taking uncalculated risks. When you look back at how you or your partner acted, you might think – wow, that was embarrassing.
Neurologist and clinical neurophysiologist, Emad Noor, M.D., from the JFK Neuroscience Institute helps explain why these things might happen when you’re falling in love. The good news: it usually doesn’t last.
- A hormone explosion.
When you are falling for someone, you can experience a rush of hormones, leading to the various bodily functions typically associated with new romance – sweaty palms, a racing heart, or “butterflies” in your stomach.
“All of these feelings are caused by hormones – a rush of adrenaline, dopamine and norepinephrine. These hormones can cause things like flushed cheeks, an increased heart rate and a surge of excitement,” shares Dr. Noor.
“The release of cortisol, the stress hormone, may also be flowing during the early stages of a relationship,” mentions Dr. Noor. “Cortisol works with your brain to control things like your mood, and the fight-or-flight instinct. This may be why new lovebirds can also be irritable. They’re excited and afraid at the same time; they are balancing a lot of mixed physiological signals.”
- You’re blinded by love.
We all have that one friend – they break up with their significant other, and continually get back together when they know it’s not a good idea. Did they not learn from the first ten breakups?
Well, it might not be their fault.
“Research has shown that the part of the brain that processes decision-making and emotions, the amygdala, can decrease activity when romance is added to the equation. This part of the brain is responsible for things like learning from our mistakes, so if there’s decreased activity, there’s a likelihood that someone may be ‘blinded by love’,” shares Dr. Noor.
- You become obsessed.
“Serotonin levels can also become depleted during new romance,” adds Dr. Noor. “Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that can regulate mood, anxiety, fear and happiness. When we see those levels decrease that can create obsessive-compulsive-disorder-like symptoms.”
If you can’t stop thinking about them, are compulsively checking your phone or your new love interest is literally all you can talk about, you have been hit with the love bug. But don’t worry, your serotonin levels will eventually level out.
- You feel a ‘high’.
Interestingly, studies have shown that love can sometimes create the same feelings someone might get from taking drugs.
“The other euphoric elements that are produced in the new stages of love are chemicals like vasopressin, adrenaline, oxytocin and dopamine,” Dr. Noor says. “A research study analyzed the MRI scans of participants looking at a photo of their partner. Their brains lit up in same neurological regions as the scans of people with substance use disorders.”
Kesha said it first, “Your love is my drug,” and it all makes sense now.
If you find yourself stalking social media, or even contemplating a tattoo with your love interest’s name, these out of character behaviors may not be your fault, it’s science.
Practicing at the JFK Neuroscience Institute at JFK Medical Center, Dr. Noor is a board certified neurologist and expert in neurology and neurophysiology. If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Noor call 732-321-7010. To find a provider near you, visit HackensackMeridianHealth.org.
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.