Breakups can be tough. Even if you’re glad to be out of the relationship, major life changes like dealing with the end of a relationship can be rife with emotional turmoil. And understanding when your heartbreak is becoming something more serious can help you start healing.
Heartbreak looks different on everyone because it’s a form of grief, says licensed mental health counselor Brennan C. Mallonee, LMHC. You’re grieving the loss of not only a partner, but your dreams for a future that included that person, she explains. And there’s a reason that grief is so agonizing: It can literally cause emotional and physical pain, says licensed counselor Erin Parisi, LMHC, CAP. “A lot of the ‘heartbreak’ symptoms overlap with other disorders, especially depression,” she tells Bustle. “And for people who have already had depressive episodes or who are predisposed to depression, a heartbreak could trigger an episode.”
“Protective factors” like emotional support systems, access to medical care, spiritual beliefs, and employment stability can make healing from heartbreak easier, Parisi says. But if you’re missing some of those supports, coping can be all the more difficult.
While any symptom that is particularly debilitating or long-lasting can be a reason to seek help, mental health professionals agree that there are particular indicators that your heartbreak is turning into more serious. Here are 11 signs your relationship grief is more than it seems, according to experts.