Love and life: How relationships affect your health

Guest Column
Stephen Runde, MD
MercyCare Monticello

     Valentine’s Day is coming, and whether or not you celebrate this romantic holiday, we thought you might want to know more about how love and relationships affect your health.

     Whether it’s romantic, familial or friendship, love releases hormones that make you feel better – plain and simple.

     Brain chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin can trigger energy and create a sense of attachment when released. This bond can lower blood pressure and stress hormones, and improve your overall mood.

     Intense feelings of love also activate the same area of the brain as painkillers, so you could even say that love can ease chronic pain.

     People in healthy, supportive relationships are also less likely to become depressed and tend to live longer. Having loved ones help you through life’s difficulties makes a big difference on your outlook and wellbeing.

     On the other hand, falling out of love or losing a loved one can affect your health, too. Stress-induced cardiomyopathy, sometimes called “broken heart syndrome,” can temporarily enlarge the heart, a serious and sometimes fatal condition.

     Everyone experiences love differently, and it manifests itself in different ways throughout life. If you take care to nurture your relationships and value the love you have to give, it can be a powerful ally in your physical and mental health.

     So, whether you do anything special with a Valentine, or you just call if Feb. 14, take a moment to appreciate the love in your life and those with whom you share it.



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