Heartbreak and mental health

Heartbreak and mental health

Heartbreak is when a person is suffering strong emotional distress, especially after the end of a love affair. A clinical psychologist, Oluwakemi Akintoyese, describing the feeling, said “Sometimes, the person suffering it would tell you that it feels like the heart is about to crack inside their chest, they are not able to function or push on as much as they want to. Some would describe it as having a dull ache.


“For some other people, it feels like a piercing in the heart. Overall, it means that an individual has strong emotional distress or suffering or a depressed emotional state resulting from an upsetting event after a breakup or loss of a relationship,” she added.


According to her, suicide resulting from the end of a relationship centres on a person’s mental health.

“Don’t forget that heartbreak is defined as a strong emotional state, so because of the emotional aspect that is involved in heartbreak, it is linked with mental health. When a relationship breaks down, it disturbs an individual’s emotional functioning, their way of thinking, sense of judgment, and sense of reasoning.

“It doesn’t allow them to be able to view life as they want. For some people, at that stage, it looks like the end has come. They may not have the tenacity to be able to push through or move on with that level of loss they perceive at that time,” she added.


Love is an emotional thing. The state of a person’s romantic relationship can affect their lives, depending on how much emotion has been invested, a consultant psychiatrist, Dr Dapo Adegbaju said.

The human heart comes hardwired with the ability to experience pleasure from intimate connections, so it instinctually feels relationships, said Michael Jacob, a certified psychotherapist and EFT specialist, adding that the physical and emotional pleasure that relationship brings is essential for survival.

Jacob told Saturday PUNCH that when a person’s emotional state was threatened, their mental health was at risk and when that happened, they could not rationally navigate their thoughts.


“So, when one partner or both partners decide to break that connection, heartbreak occurs; a situation where the heart thinks its emotional survival is being threatened.

“We all know that sadness, a heightened emotional state, and sleeplessness are some of the manifestations of heartbreak. While some can easily move on, a lot dwell in these states for a longer time, and since the human state decides human thoughts, the longer you stay in a negative state, the possibility of various negative thoughts taking place increases, hence such people start having suicidal thoughts.”


What data say

Statistics by the World Health Organisation as of 2019 pegged the number of yearly successful suicide attempts at 703,000. The agency noted that suicidal thoughts were triggered by a combination of individual, relationship, community, and societal factors.

The WHO added that whereas suicide occurred “throughout the lifespan,” it had been identified as the fourth leading cause of death among young people between 15 and 29-year-olds globally.


While there has been an established link between suicide and mental disorders, the world’s health authority, remarked that “many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses, such as financial problems, relationship breakup or chronic pain and illness”.

This is as a study published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that one in five deaths by suicide was related to problems with current or former intimate partners such as divorce, separation, romantic breakups, conflicts, and intimate partner violence.


The American Psychiatry Association quoting the study, which was carried out by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the University of Georgia, noted that “experiencing an acute adverse life event (like deciding to divorce or experiencing intimate partner violence) could contribute to an impulsive suicide attempt among individuals who did not previously have a suicide plan.”

But speaking with Psychiatry News, the public health advisor in the Center for Disease Control’s Division of Violence Prevention, Ayana Stanley, said that the link between relationship problems and suicidality might be two-way.


“A partner relationship marked by interpersonal conflict and violence may contribute to or exacerbate mental health problems. Conversely, mental health problems may also contribute to difficulties experienced within an intimate partner relationship,” Stanley and colleagues wrote in a report.

Furthermore, the CDC in their 2018 CDC Vital Signs revealed that it was estimated that 42 per cent of all suicides in the United States were related to relationship problems.

__________________________ Join us on WhatsApp ______________________________

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *