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Nancy Schimelpfening

Love Addiction Similar to Cocaine Addiction

By July 27, 2010

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Depending on your generation, you are probably familiar with songs like Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" and, more recently, Kesha's "Your Love Is My Drug," but, did you know that there is a real basis for the pain and depression that you feel when going through a break up and it could have some similarity to drug addiction?

Researchers looked at the brain activity in 15 college-aged heterosexual men who had recently been dumped by their girlfriends, but were still in love with them.  The men were shown a picture of their ex-girlfriend, then asked to solve a math problem to distract them.  After solving the problem, they were then shown a picture of a neutral person that they knew but didn't have any romantic feelings for.

Brain scans conducted while the men looked at the pictures showed that certain areas in the brain were stimulated much more when the men were looking at the object of their unrequited love than when looking at the neutral person.

These areas, according to the authors, are the same areas stimulated in cocaine addicts and are associated with physical pain and distress.

They also found, however, that there is truth to the old saw about time healing all wounds.  Over time, the level of brain activity the men experienced when looking at photos of their exes lessened.

The study was published in the July issue of the Journal of Neurophysiology.

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