Breaking down heartbreak

The emotional and physical consequences on students

Kirsten Wandrey, Staff Writer

Heartbreak. It’s a word many wish they weren’t familiar with, the hurt of losing someone so important that a physical pain manifests itself deep within your chest.

Inevitably, you’ll have to figure out a couple coping methods, whether it be comfort food, classic movies, or good old-fashioned denial.

“When I went through my breakup, I spent a lot of time being sad and didn’t really want to leave my house” said student Ava Cooper*.

The reality is, there is no simple solution to fixing one’s broken heart. The effects can be real and lasting, especially in high school, taking a significant toll on a student’s mental and physical wellness.

While everyone’s personal experiences can vary, counselor Jodi Therkelsen defines heartbreak as “when you’re emotionally invested in another person, and something happens that you don’t want to happen-like a break up”.

Of course, there are multiple kinds of heartbreak, not just romantic. Losing friends or family can hurt just as much. A situation like this is nothing to be taken lightly, even for teenagers and younger students.

Having one’s heart broken is an emotional experience, and there is obviously an effect on one’s mental health.

“If proper coping methods aren’t utilized, it can lead to serious issues like depression, and lead to some pretty significant difficulties in life,” psychologist Kelly O’Toole said.

As well as hurting mentally, heartbreak can come with physical symptoms too.

“One can experience chest pains, unhealthy weight gain or loss, loss of sleep, and other physical pains from stress,” Therkelsen said.

The most important way to avoid these negative effects is to develop healthy coping strategies when dealing with heartbreak.

Counselor Lindsey Zentic recommends “talking with a trusted adult or friend, journaling, and exercise,”.  

“Being with my friends during that time was super helpful, because I had people who I know care about me,” Cooper said.

Whatever method one chooses to utilize, it is important to select one that keeps you busy and focused on happier things.

Going through heartbreak can seem overwhelmingly negative, and some may question whether relationships are worth the risk.

“High school is a good time for students to start dating, because it prepares them for adulthood and it’s necessary to go through those experiences and learn about what you want,” O’Toole said.

It’s okay to explore relationships, and heartbreak will always be a sadly unavoidable part of life. Students don’t need to avoid relationships altogether, but simply establish healthy coping methods and rely on a solid support system.

“Recovering from a breakup follows some of the same steps as the grieving process”, Therkelsen said. The time it takes to recover is different for everyone, so don’t stress about trying to heal too fast.

“It’s important to really just know yourself and be able to cope, so you can recover and move forward with your life” O’Toole advises.