June 15, 2013
Love: Nothing But Chemical Reactions
Many people tend to freak out a lot when a situation has to deal with emotions. However, if we were to take a step back from what they make us feel and analyze them for they truly are (simple chemical reactions in the brain), we can minimize how much we stress out over them.
Let us analyze the most commonly hard to understand emotion; love. We start off with the chemical phenylethylamine or, as most people know it, PEA. This chemical is naturally found in the brain and is responsible for that overpowering feeling of being head over heels in love with someone. It is also found when attraction to another person happens; however, many people feel the same effects of this chemical when they eat chocolate or other foods with a similar chemical content. When PEA is released in large quantities, it can sometimes cause the release of two other important chemicals to cause the reaction known to us as love, norepinephrine and dopamine.
Norepinephrine, abbreviated as norepi, is a hormone that has to deal with stress. As we all know, love can be a very stress-filled emotion on many levels. When you are near someone you really like, you will notice that your hands will start getting sweaty or your heart rate speeding up. You can thank the norepinephrine your brain has released for this reaction. As much as many people enjoy this feeling, this chemical can be extremely dangerous if an excess is released.
Another chemical released during what we call “love” is dopamine. Dopamine’s presence is extremely important in the process of love because this is a key chemical in selecting a mate, and is a reward chemical your body releases, in this case, during and after sex. The more dopamine a person’s brain releases, the stronger attraction they will have with the person they are with. Once enough dopamine is released, the excess triggers the brain to release oxytocin.
Oxytocin is most commonly called the “cuddle hormone”. It is most often released while human touch is in process for both genders. This hormone makes it possible for people to feel connected and comfortable with each other.
The final chemical that makes people fall in love is, surprisingly, testosterone. Testosterone is a hormone that is responsible for pure and animalistic-like lust. Ironically, when people fall in love, the female tends to release higher levels of testosterone and the male stops releasing as much as he did before falling in love. The levels don’t last forever however; after about 18 months to four years, the brain starts to build an immunity to all the above chemicals and proceeds to release endorphins.
Endorphins are hormones that the brain releases to tolerate all the chemicals it has had to deal with for an extended period of time. Many people see this as the fallout, since the endorphins cause the huge flame of passion released by dopamine and testosterone to become a gentler flame. This does not mean the extinguishment of love, just a different phase. Endorphins are responsible for calming anxiety and creating a strong comfortable connection between two people. Not many people make it to this stage or get past it for too long. But those that do find what some people like to call “true love and happiness”.
So remember, if you ever feel heartbroken or in love, remember all you are feeling is a combination of chemicals you brain released. There is plenty more where they came from. So, if you believe the person you are heartbroken over is the only person that you can love, think again; because eventually someone else will come along that will make you feel the same way or even trigger a bigger amount of hormones that will make you feel even more connected to them.
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