The pain that comes from breaking up with someone you loved is no joke. Sometimes it almost feels like you're being punished for every amazing feeling you felt for that person, and now you find yourself completely lost and shattered. If you're wondering exactly how long you’re sad after a breakup, there is (unfortunately) no one-size-fits-all answer. Letting go of someone who was essentially one of your best friends can be so unbelievably hard. And while it may feel like there's no end in sight to those gut wrenching emotions, I'm here to tell you that is certainly not the case.
The thing about getting your heart broken is that no two breakups are exactly the same, so it can be hard to know when you'll finally start feeling better. But typically, the longer you're with someone, the more attached you become. The more attached you are, the more it's going to hurt if things don't work out, and subsequently, the longer it could take for the pain to subside. And while so often the pain associated with breaking up is thought to be mental and emotional, many people don't realize that it can also cause very real physical symptoms.
"When a couple goes through a breakup, the brain experiences massive withdrawal symptoms almost identical to a heroin addict quitting cold turkey," licensed psychologist Dr. Wyatt Fisher told Elite Daily.
So if you thought all of the intensity you're feeling is just in your head, it's actually absolutely not. Falling in love triggers a rush of hormones (including oxytocin and dopamine) to the brain's reward systems, according to a study published in the U.S. National Library Of Medicine. These "love hormones" are so strong that even if you believe that the breakup was the right thing to do, it's not uncommon for your body to react as if you were literally an addict suffering from withdrawal.
But the good news is that nothing lasts forever, and there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. "After a breakup, people should expect withdrawal symptoms for roughly six months and increase their self-care and social support during this season," explained Dr. Fisher.
But what if six months go by and you're still not feeling so great? Well, while six months is an estimate, mourning the loss of love can definitely take a lot longer because everyone processes the emotions associated with loss differently. Even if the chemical spell has been broken, it's still possible that you will find yourself missing your ex.
"The best question you can ask yourself to test your recovery from the breakup is, 'When was the last time you thought about your ex?'" April Masini, relationship and etiquette expert of Relationship Advice Forum, told Elite Daily. "As you get over an ex, it will be longer and longer between thinking of that person.”
It can be easy to tell yourself that you should be over them by a certain point, or that you should be ready to date after a certain number of months, but giving yourself arbitrary deadlines can be way more pressure than necessary.
Think of the post-breakup slump as nothing more than your brain, body, and heart doing all of the processing they need to do. And whether this takes two weeks, two months, or even two years, just trust that nothing lasts forever and eventually, when you're ready, you'll be able to let go of the sadness and move on to better and brighter things.
If, however, you are concerned with the toll a breakup is taking, there is absolutely nothing wrong with talking to a professional about how you're feeling and coming up with a strategy to process those feelings in the healthiest way possible.
Breakups can be some of the hardest experiences to work through, but if you can stay strong and give yourself some extra TLC, then you'll definitely come out of the experience as a stronger and wiser version of yourself — and that's something worth celebrating.
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