- Lovesickness, defined
- Lovesickness symptoms
- Lovesick vs. lovestruck
- Conditions intensified by being lovesick
- Co-occurring or related conditions
- How to heal
If you’ve ever had your heart broken, been ghosted, or longed for love, you might’ve experienced lovesickness. Here are the signs and how to heal.
Have you ever missed someone so much that you felt sick? What about a strong sense of yearning for a person who didn’t feel the same way back?
Or maybe you’ve heard stories of couples who were together for decades passing away around the same time (aka dying from a broken heart).
If so, then you’re probably well aware that this experience is real, and it can hurt. Well, that feeling has a name: lovesickness.
What does it mean to feel lovesick?
Lovesickness is not a clinically recognized mental health condition. Rather, it’s a biological response.
When you’re lovesick, you may become consumed by thoughts or feelings of yearning for the romantic love of someone. The experience of feeling lovesick can differ based on the unique circumstances of each scenario.
You can feel lovesick from a variety of situations, including but not limited to:
- grieving the loss of a partner, whether from death or a breakup
- lacking the ability to emotionally or physically connect with someone
- experiencing unrequited love
- missing a partner who’s temporarily distanced from you
- general longing for love
Some folks might say they feel lovesick when they first start falling for someone new. Those feel-good love symptoms can pop up as excitement, lust, or pure joy.
But the negative feelings of lovesickness don’t align with those positive emotions associated with the experience of requited, happy, and healthy love.
There are many emotional and mental signs and symptoms of lovesickness to look out for, such as:
- constantly thinking about the person you’re lovesick over
- spending a lot of time waiting for a call or text from them
- feeling unmotivated
- daydreaming or replaying conversations or encounters in your mind
- insomnia or sleeping poorly
- mood changes
- isolating yourself from anyone who isn’t your lover
Does someone become “sick”? Not always, but it is possible.
For example, maybe your ex recently broke up with you, and now you may start to miss them.
In this case, Pareen Sehat, a registered clinical counselor in Vancouver, Canada, shares that lovesickness could look like this:
“You’re so heartbroken that it interferes with your routine and prevents you from accomplishing important things. You feel incredibly vulnerable and weak to the point that it begins to impact your physical health.”
A 2017 review article suggests the following physical symptoms of lovesickness may also be present:
- loss of appetite
- rapid breathing
- heart palpitations
According to Sehat, one explanation for these symptoms is that your brain becomes overloaded with the “happy hormone,” dopamine, during the initial phase of romantic love.
And when that neurochemical rush or withdrawal occurs? Enter lovesickness symptoms.
Lovesick vs. lovestruck
People use the term “lovesick” interchangeably with lovestruck or limerence. But they don’t all mean the same thing.
“Lovestruck is a metaphor for falling in love with someone quickly,” Sehat explains. “On the other hand, lovesickness is a condition in which you feel sad and unpleasant due to the absence of your significant other.”
She adds that limerence is more of an infatuation or unrequited love situation.
Conditions intensified by being lovesick
Certain mental health conditions can intensify lovesickness (and vice versa), such as:
- anxiety disorders
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- borderline personality disorder (BPD)
“These conditions can trigger and intensify lovesickness because you can become overwhelmed and unable to control your emotions,” Sehat explains.
She adds you can become easily triggered or even have a panic attack.
If you have a fear of abandonment or your brain is naturally low on dopamine from a mental health condition like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you might feel a harder “crash” after a breakup or loss of someone who made you feel safe or happy.
Low dopamine can also magnify feelings of lovesickness.
Conditions with similar brain changes
According to a 2018 research review, lovesickness symptoms arise as a result of altered brain chemicals such as:
Researchers point out similarities between the neurochemistry in folks who experience lovesickness and those with addiction or compulsive behavioral disorders.
How to heal lovesickness
Good news: Lovesickness can be temporary, and there are ways to heal.
Although the above 2018 review suggests there’s no official treatment, there are ways to self-soothe and cope with feeling lovesick that may bring you relief.
Sehat suggests the following tips for healing from lovesickness:
- Give yourself time.
- Avoid forcing yourself to feel a certain way if it doesn’t come naturally.
- Talk with loved ones about your experience.
- Express how you feel.
If feeling lovesick starts to interfere with your ability to function every day, consider speaking with a mental health professional. Therapy can help you understand the root cause of this feeling, process your emotions, and guide you toward healing.
“If you repress your feelings, they can be triggered, and even if you think you’ve recovered, you could be back at square one,” Sehat says.
Don’t bottle up your lovesickness. Let it out so you can fully process and let go of it for good.
Focusing so heavily on loving someone else can also lead you to neglect your own needs. Remember to take care of yourself as well.
“Lovesickness can be healed, so don’t worry and recover at your own pace without the fear of being judged,” Sehat says.
Rest assured that there are ways to cope with lovesickness.
Being lovesick from unrequited love, missing your partner, or generally longing for affection can feel like it’s stopping time, but try to remember it’s temporary and relief can come from self-care.
You might feel better after letting some time pass, fleshing out your feelings, and talking about your experience with a trusted friend, family member, or therapist.
Remember that lovesickness is a common experience, and you can heal.
Most importantly, you can permit yourself to feel your feelings.