The Chemistry of Heartbreak


Heartbreak is a strong feeling of grief or despair. It is often a symptom of loss of a significant other/loved one.I chose to research this topic because I wanted to know the physical toll of emotional distress. Everyone’s life is affected by heartbreak at one point or another, there has not been many studies about heartbreak so I wanted to take learning about heartbreak into my own hands.Composition of ...Heartbreak consists of monoamines, serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, cortisol, oxytocin

    • Oxytocin - C43H66N12O12S2
    • Serotonin - C10H12N2O
    • Norepinephrine - C8H11NO3
    • Dopamine - C8H11NO2
    • Cortisol - C21H30O5

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

    1. Serotonin - C10H12N2O

Serotonin is produced in the brain during a biochemical conversion process, it is released when you are happy, and if you are lacking serotonin you become anxious.

Anxiety is a symptom of heartbreak, when you are heartbroken too little serotonin can give you anxiety disorders and cause heart problems like stress cardiomyopathy and

stomach ulcers. Serotonin is a chemical that the body makes that acts as a neurotransmitter and natural blood clotter. Serotonin is released when you feel feelings of well-being or happiness, and when your blood needs to clot because of an injury.

Serotonin helps relay messages across the human brain. Serotonin is released because it helps regulate things such as mood, your gastrointestinal tract, appetite, and even some social behavior.

Most of the body’s serotonin is made and found in the gastrointestinal or GI tract (80-90%). The rest is found in the central nervous system, which makes us feel emotions, and in blood platelets for clotting purposes.

2. Dopamine - C8H11NO2

Dopamine is produced in the ventral tegmental area and the substantia nigra. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that makes you happy and raises blood pressure/heart rate. When dopamine is released when you’re in love, it makes you attached to the person. Without being attached, you cannot become heartbroken. Dopamine is a chemical found in the brain that helps the transmissions of signals. It regulates moods and can be used as a medication for shock and can treat low blood pressure. Dopamine is released during “rewarding” experiences, like love or eating. It is also released during exercise because it helps movement. It helps with physical movement as well as mental movement since it is a chemical messenger.

Dopamine is made and released so the motor and mental functions in the body run smoothly. It’s also released during any rewarding behavior so you seek more of the behavior. Dopamine is made by the body in the dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area of the brain along

with the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus. When it is released from the brain it connects to different neurons.

Chemistry's Role

Dopamine and Serotonin are both naturally occurring in the human body. Dopamine is also present in animals. In order to raise dopamine and serotonin levels in the body, some good tasks are to listen to music, exercise and discover new things. You can also increase serotonin by eating foods high in tryptophan because it is synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan.

Background Research

Heartbreak is distress or a strong feelings of sadness that causes stress. Heartbreak is made of survival instincts and it involves the anterior cingulate cortex which during stress can overstimulate the vagus nerve. Monoamines, or mood related chemicals are involved with heartbreak. They include serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. Cortisol is also released when the body is under stress. To fall in love you must release oxytocin or vasopressin to become attached. The lust part of love is testosterone and estrogen and the monoamines are responsible for the attraction portion. These chemicals reacting at once give the body a goal or motivational related state. In order to become heartbroken, the same chemicals in the brain will need to be at a lower level to cause a chemical imbalance.


with the “reward system” portion of the brain. This makes love not exactly an emotion, but more of a goal trying to be reached. Because of the motivational state it puts you in, love also becomes addictive. When you are actually heartbroken, physical pain is a common symptom. The pain might be caused by the hormonal triggering of the sympathetic activation system in the brain (it’s also referred to as fight-or-flight stress).

Slunaker 5

  • This is the technical name for Broken Heart Syndrome or stress Cardiomyopathy. Broken Heart Syndrome is caused by too much stress on the heart. The muscular portion of the heart temporarily weakens, and can cause acute heart failure or ventricular arrhythmias.