Your Brain in Love

Out of 166 human societies that have been studied, romantic love has been found in around 90% of them. This serves as evidence that romantic love is not only a staple of the human condition, but beyond that it seems to have an evolutionary advantage. If not, it would not have evolved independently in different cultures.

When you fall in love, your levels of cortisol rise and this makes your heart beat faster, your hands start to sweat and increases feelings of anxiety and passion. So those butterflies in your stomach and the sweaty palms are just signs of the good kind of anxiety. Cortisol also decreases the levels of serotonin in the brain, which can lead to behaviors related to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). These behaviors are related to being profoundly in love, and we have all seen what it looks like to be head over heels for someone–for the brain it just means obsessed.

Dopamine levels fire up and cause that euphoria related to love, this feeling in the brain is also related to the use of alcohol and cocaine, it affects the same reward system. So yup, you might actually be a little drunk when “drunk in love”. Oxytocin and vasopressin (other neurotransmitters) are also released, and these are related to physical touch, trust, and maternal love. It is even said that romantic love comes from the evolutionary advantage there is to maternal love: social aid.

Love is a phenomenon that affects many neurotransmitters in many different locations, and we do not need neuroscience to say that it is all encompassing, anyone who has been in love has experienced the feeling. But it is always nice to have science back up the way that racing, overactive, desperately in love brain is working.

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