Why do we experience anxiety when going through a break up?

My ex and I broke up last weekend. It was the right thing to do given the circumstances that occurred and that's that. We were together over a year so I am sad things haven't worked out because I did love him. The main feeling I have though is anxiety. Every morning I wake up and I can feel it in the pit of my stomach. I know it's there throughout the day too but I don't notice it as much because I keep busy. I can't understand why I have anxiety over it though. I also had anxiety when my first ex broke up with me but it was on a much larger scale and again was so confused about why I was experiencing it. Anyone have any idea why we feel anxiety while going through a break up?


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Most Helpful Guy

  • Hello there.

    Bummed it didn't work out for you. While there are others claiming this might not be anxiety, I can affirm this has happened to me as well.

    Judging by the looks of it, I feel it happens to people who are more emotionally attached to their partners than the others. I for one, am a very emotionally person and being in a relationship makes me feel secure. And once you're out of it, you're hit by a multitude of emotions; All at the same time. I'll break down these for you.

    1. Sense of insecurity: Have you ever wanted someone to escort you through a dark room, or to be right besides you until you switch on the lights as a child? Think of the dark room as our lives. The normal person wants someone to accompany through this journey called life. You thought you found someone so special, he held your hand through that particular period of time, and now you're left all alone again with no one to help you to switch the lights on again? Your fear turns to anxiety.

    2. Jealousy: Yes it exists. You can't completely detach your feelings immediately after a break up. And now you're forced to think about who his next girlfriend might be? Perhaps you're still possessive about him and you want him to stay single but you fear that's not possible? Will she be better than you? Will he treat her better than me? Fear is yet again the culprit here.

    3. Broken dreams: Hey we've all dreamt big in a relationship and you're no different. I had the problem of projecting my life twenty years into the future whenever I went from being single into a relationship. I'd think about getting married, getting rich together, having kids, travelling together and building fortune together. But now you've broken up, it's all gone. You feel hopeless, depressed and scared of what the future holds. Scared of being alone perhaps? Consciously or subconsciously you're scared.

    4. Losing a friend: Your partner may have been a good friend before all this happened, you grew attached to him and now that he's gone, he feels dead to you. You can smell death of a beautiful friendship. Sure you've agreed to be just friends, but you know deep inside it just won't be the same anymore. You've been accustomed to be attached to him and now he's gone. I've certainly been in there, and I can tell you it feels and it smells like death.

    Hope it helped. I'd be more than welcome to suggest how to get out of it. :)

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    • Thank you so much this really helped. I can especially relate to the jealousy part. While we are broken up (not even a week at this stage) I would be super uncomfortable if he got with someone new already. Purely by that, I'm aware I'm still not over this and have some emotions to work through. Thank you so much!

    • I'm glad I helped. Chin up and take care. You have a beautiful life ahead and I wish the best for you. :)

Most Helpful Girl

  • Its totally normal. It's your body grieving. Even though it was for the best, you still feel the loss and your body and mind will go through severals stages over time until you feel normal again. Its good that you recognoze when you are busy you dont notice as much. The best thig you can do is to stay as busy as possible for some time. slowly the anxienty will subside, you may even have other emotions come into play. All normal. just stay active, be healthy and eventually all that will remain are fond memories of a past expreience.
    good luck <3

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What Guys Said 65

  • The breakup of a relationship, regardless of the reason is a loss. Just because you break up doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. Sometimes we mourn this loss even though we know it's what's best. Try to think about what you are/were thinking about when this anxiety hits. Waking up feeling this may be because it's another day you are having to deal with the loss. This will pass as time passes. Many, many people go through it. I did after a long marriage. It was best for both of us, but still hurt and I had a big sense of loss and pain. We both agreed breaking up was best for both of us and we didn't go through all the crap that getting divorced usually entails. Just remember, this will pass.

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    • Ya usually he would've been the first thing on my mind when I wake up in the morning. So I think while at the moment that is still the case, I'm maybe feeling the anxiety then because it's a reminder we have broken up. That actually makes a lot of sense to me, thank you!

    • You are welcome! Good luck to you!

  • Usually because no matter how independent you are you are somewhat co-dependent with your partner and in doing so you fill a void. When they part, that void is opened back up again and thus the cycle continues until you become at peace with that void. Some people are born completely free of dealing with it, but most must deal with it, and it is those that do are the most human.

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  • I think it has to do with what's called seperaration anxiety. We get used to having someone with us at all times, even though they aren't physically with us, we still look forward to the constant interactions with them, and when that goes, we feel a void that was once filled by this person. We feel the anxiety because we don't like change and we don't like losing anything, but I think most of all, there's a sense of rejection that comes with a breakup. Don't worry, time heals all wounds, and it. At bother you now, but you'll be better in time.

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  • when we're in a relationship, we tend to become used to, to the person so much that when they leave use or when we mutually breakup or anything which makes them go away from us makes our mind go conscious! we aren't able to adjust in the new condition. the thing needed the most is closure! and to move on completely you'll have to get over the fact that your happiness is dependent on someone! never make yourself so dependent on others that their existence or non existence effects your happiness. you'll get over him when you get into another relationship.

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  • You had an emotional support system that you relied on for a lot of your comfort. Now that emotional support/comfort they provided is gone. Ripped out from under you. You're on your own now from an emotional standpoint. Feeling sad after breakups are to be expected, but getting anxiety suggests that you derived some of your confidence, pride and emotional comfort from that person and the relationship. Now that it's gone you've "lost" that self assurance.

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  • Even when someone's in a bad relationship after they break up it still hurts. You still miss him and it feels like a piece of you is missing inside. You think about him a lot and remember what it's like to be loved. After time you will heal. You will find the missing pieces inside and put the puzzle back together. You won't feel as alone.

    You're a young beautiful girl and you will find love again. Someone to give you a hug and hold you at night while you sleep next to him. Eventually your anxiety will lesson then go away. Good luck my friend. You'll be ok.

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  • I'm curious about the symptoms that you are feeling, that you refer to as anxiety. I'm not suggesting that it isn't anxiety, I'm just wondering where it differs from the normal feelings after a breakup. You would expect to feel some element of uncertainty, breaking up can be a big thing. It can be like being thrust back into the pool when you haven't swam for 20 years, and then having to let go of the side. Invariably you will find out that you can still swim but it may take a while until it feels natural again.

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    • Agree with you. I'm not sure this is anxiety.

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    • Things can feel like anxiety without being so. What are you anxious about specifically? Afraid of being alone?

    • That's why I asked this question. I don't know why I'm feeling it. I know I did the right thing by breaking up with him but maybe it's just me adjusting to life without him now. I really don't know.

  • Because you have this massive void in your life and you don't know what to do or what to "fill" it with.
    But you know it was for the best and you know their are plenty of other guys out there. You need to reassure yourself thag may help. And I just looked at your profile and I love your quote.
    "Happiness is when you feel good about yourself without the need for anyone's approval" Maybe that can help you as well. Try to be happy about a new life that's been giving to you.
    Also keep busy! And try to forget him as much as possible. Dont contact him and don't spend too much time alone either in your own thoughts.
    You will get through this! šŸ˜Š

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  • It's quite normal, you've been together for a certain time so there is a bond.
    So logically, you miss the person in your life and that hurts.
    You hat probably hoped to get old together and now you probably feel "empty" since this dream is gone :o
    Best thing to do is go to your friends and pass time with them. That will do you good :D

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  • Though you feel right about what you did, it's the in secured feeling that initiates the anxiety... Insecurity cuz of the question WHY. Why your love wasn't reciprocated. Equally enough. Would this happen again. Is there a pattern with you that's not enough for others to be in a relationship with... How should you proceed the next time. Questions like these will be disturbing your sub conscious mind. Whether you appreciate that it's troubling you or not. This breaks your confidence in everything. And you feel anxious. Cut all these down here itself. Nothing in my opinion is the END. everything continues or revolves. Depends how you take things further. Everything n everybody needs another chance. Needs and DESERVES. not second chance but ANOTHER chance. Take another shot in life with whom you like with confidence. Be who you are. Take time if you want. But when you go at it again, send the message clear to your worrying thoughts that living happy is your bloody RIGHT. Keep up n stay up. May everything you fought for come to you in one form or the other. May God help you to identify, accept n acknowledge it n keep you satisfied. May the essence of life guide you, what ever form you believe it to be in. Anxiety is just a feeling, an emotion. One amongst millions that go through your mind. Those electric signals traveling through heck loads of never at mythical speeds. Twisting n turning picking up signals of environment mixing with our past n fear of failure... You on the other side are the creation. One unique from star dust. And none has the right or deserve to certify this about you. You believe in this. In your self. You will find harder road blocks. Don't stop believing. That's wherein it becomes faith. All the best. Choice is always yours.

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    • A simple tour, holiday. A week off, explore something new. Move OUT for a little while. Definitely will boost you. Sticking on to the same place will definitely worsen it. Definitely go out n enjoy it your way. Feel the freshness of freedom.

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    • Thumbs all the up. Tc

    • Thumbs all the way up. Tc

  • chemical withdrawal, when someone you physiologically associate with feeling good is always around (regardless of the dynamic) you become accustomed to the chemical balance they trigger. When that trigger is no longer available the brain is forced to adapt to a chemical balance that it Isn't used to. Once You've purged your stores of melatonin and oxitocin, the brain secretes high doses of cortisol in it's place, causing temporary insanity until you balance off.

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    • *psychologically* soz

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    • That sucks, still, you gave it another go and all it proved was that you made the right call the first time. Nothing wrong with being sure. And at least you know it's only temporary. Keep your chin up in the mean time, you'll be able to laugh about it soon enough.

    • it's always like this with him ): but thanks!!

  • Because when you break up a part of your worldview breaks down. You naturally went into the relationship thinking it will work out.

    When you then have to break up, your worldview takes a huge blow because a lot of what you thought would and will be, isn't anymore. Thus you have to readjust through all the chaos. And chaos can cause fears to come up.

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  • i think your mimd needs time to change itself from loving/liking a person to forgetting him. so it's kinda the reason anxiety kicks in since you don't want the change to occur.

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  • Maybe because of the big change it caused. Everything u thought about your future and plans etc got destroyed and u have to let go of it. Maybe u got safety and energy and confidence through that person and that's gone now. U might think that u won't find someone who fits better to u or who loves u the same way.
    U can learn to let go of anxiety using mediation / hypnosis

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  • Fuck it use that shit to motivate you and become the best.

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  • we experience anxiety because our heart feelings are attached with that person and that person doesn't care about our heart feelings and we feel alone in the absence of that person because we have attachment with that person or habit to talk with him and spend all our time with that person

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  • the anxiety you will feel with every subsequent breakup will be milder than the one before... there is a reason why there is a saying around in each culture that there is no such thing like ones first love! but to be honest!

    relationships are unions to fill the gap in your needs and Character. when your significant half breaks away (doesn't matter how they were; good or bad) the gaps empty up again! your body, mind and soul has needs! you'll feel better when back in a relationship! but just don't be that hasty!

    and thanks for the advice on my post! I appreciate it!

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  • Its just been a week. You need to give yourself time to heal. Breakup is a very emotional process and since it is related to emotion of sadness, betrayal and heartache you feel anxiety. Similarly during beging of relationship you feel exited because it related to emotion of joy and happiness. With time this anxiety will go away. The fact that you are feeling anxity shows that you loved your partner a lot and you are an emotional person. Although having emotion is normal but in today's world showing or acting emotional around people will make you dependent and vulnerable which may lead people taking advantage of you. The best option is to talk to a friend on whom you can trust your life with and ask that person to listen to you and help you through. Even if that doesn't work then there is always alcohol. šŸ˜‰

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  • It could be Separation Anxiety from you two no longer together
    it's like your missing that part of him was there but know since
    the break up he's no longer there so your feeling anxiety from it.
    Within due time this will go away but it will take a while to get
    over the break up cause you two had something but now it's
    not there it feels like a death happened to you and your trying
    to get over it and you loved him so yes this all contributes to it.

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  • The most objective answer is: When we are in a relationship our body liberates dopamine that makes us feel good when with our significant other, the problem is that dopamine is adictive, so when we go through a break up is pretty much like an alcoholic who suddenly stops drinking.

    Dark chocolate ussually helps since it contains dopamine

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  • Because, despite all evidence to the contrary, and all indications that overall humans are base, vile and intractable creatures.
    Humans are social creatures, and we desire and need social contact. The ultimate extreme of this is a coupling relationship.

    It is also true that humans do not handle change well as a general rule, and changing what is essentially family, is one of the biggest changes you can have.

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  • Its not about breakups only its about everything which you have in your life and you start thinking that it will be forever with you. While being in a relationship with any object or person we feel happy and then takes our happiness for granted but generally its not the case as after one phase of happiness you must have to undergo phase of anxiety and sadness for the same object. So just enjoy relationship don't attach yourself with anything with your life and soul deeply. Remember you are the only one who can be with your always. If you are not happy in yourself and think your happiness is through others, you can't be happy throughout your life.

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  • from my personal experience its the emotions one has for the other person after the breakup. it is normal, it will just take time to except the persn is gone.

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  • you lost someone you love just wait a little... i would tell you to smoke some herb... dont use it as a drug, use it as a medicine, about 3times a week... and dont overdo. It will help you, get more confident with the anxiety. Hope, it will help.

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  • coz its affects u and ur life wth which u have habituated so bt wth time all settels like u breakup 1ce then u have this 1 nw so its up to u tottaly dear.
    wish u bst of luck wth ur life.

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  • I have a theory about anxiety in general
    Anxiety is to be excited without knowing what to beexpect excited about. When you break upit with someone, you no longer know what (who) to be excited about (for)

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  • memories are the depth root of any relationships , so the anxiety you face currently is a part of that unknown attachment you had basically memories , the fact that he is not around you or the feeling of those butterflies in your tummy is not there is making you feel different and causes you this anxiety , to be honest if you noticed have you asked yourself why does the anxiety comes during the break up moment? well the answer is memories the sudden change of the ambience of your emotion.

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  • It's because we are losing someone who was either big or small part of our lives.

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  • I can relate because i got anxiety after breaking up with my ex last year and i still it. I think it is more afraid of being without someone you felt was so close to you and now their not in your life as much, it's hard to feel and accept and hard to move on but it goes past and as time moves on you get to a point that you feel it's okay to go out and meet someone else

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  • you probably felt like your life is over/ending.

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  • More from Guys
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2 private opinion(s)
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What Girls Said 26

  • Anxiety is a normal reaction to the end of a relationship with strong feelings involved. When we go through a break up, it's almost like our system undergoes trauma. Our emotions are strong and this causes secondary effect on our nervous system as well as our bodies. That is why some people loose or gain weight after a break up, or they can't eat certain foods anymore. When my ex cheated on me and dumped me, i had an an emotional break down and lost 30 lbs. Everyone reacts differently to break ups. But yes, anxiety is a very normal affect of heartache. I hope you'll begin to feel better soon. The fact that you're keeping yourself busy is really good! A great way to help you with the anxiety is exercise. Even just taking a 30 min walk every day will give your body new energy and help you de-stress yourself. Another great anxiety reliever is a bubble bath! especially one with oils and bath salt. You'll feel so rejuvenated after :) Hope these tips help! xo

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  • It's really simple.

    Change.

    You're subconsciously aware of all the little changes that are going to impact your life as a direct result of this breakup. You might also have fears of being alone, so maybe you feel like you've made a terrible mistake.

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    • No I definitely didn't make a terrible mistake by ending it tbh. It would've been a terrible mistake to continue it more than anything else.

    • It was only a possible suggestion. Either way, it's still the changes that are stressing you.

    • Ya you're right it probably is the changes. I'm slowly getting back to my old self though, it's just the anxiety that's bothering me the most now. But I know with time it will all go away.

  • Probably because a breakup, on top of stress, throws you into a state of uncertainty. One that you're not sure about how to navigate or what to expect from, so your body's physiological reaction will be to make you feel anxious.
    (.. hence why working out is the top coping mechanism post-breakup, in my opinion. :) )

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  • Anxiety is hard to explain and rationalize; but it is often triggered when we are under extreme emotional distress. So it's not terribly odd.

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  • When we break up with someone that we love - its like our child is missing and we feel anxious.
    Weird I know but we have the same release of hormones to our mate that are released during child.

    Same thing happens in men. Except they are naturally more protective and possessive.

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  • I'm going through the same thing right now, although my situation is slightly different. It's similar to a panic atack really. Your chest is heavy, you find it hard to breathe when you think about him, and maybe your mind wanders. It's probably the beginning phase of a break up, the initial shock and confusion that your loved one isn't there for you anymore, all those feelings mixed together. But this is life, we're humans and we'll experience all kinds of feelings, we just learn how to work through them and move on.

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    • Yes, exactly. I just like to think logically and find a reason as to why I feel certain feelings. It's sort of my way of processing them and moving on I guess.

  • Because people don't like big changes. Anyone who does is lying about that feeling in their stomach.

    You miss him and you know that he isn't going to be in your life that way. People just don't like that sense of loss.

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  • that's relatively normal. just focus on keeping busy, and eventually with time (as clichĆ© as it sounds) you'll learn to be okay with it. you may never completely get over it, and that's fine, if people were being honest NO ONE completely gets over these kinds of things, but with time and patience you'll look back at the situation differently and realize it all happened for a reason.

    people can experience anxiety, (I know I have) because you know that your life is now changing, and a significant other was obviously a big part of your life that's no longer there, so it can be hard to adjust to change and let life take it's natural course. again, don't worry about having anxiety. let yourself feel those feelings, as it's not healthy just to act like they're not there. just make sure that you're keeping busy in the process and not being stagnant in life. best of luck!

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  • I gues it's because we still adjusting to the new life without those people n we don't know what's gonna happen next

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  • Well, not everyone have the same type of anxiety or why they go through anxiety.

    Different reasons like:
    1. Was I not good enough?
    2. Is there someone else?
    3. There's another person. Is he or she better than me?
    4. Why didn't our relationship grow further?
    5. Why couldn't this had happened, that, etc? Overthinking of what could had happened.
    6. I won't find another. I only love this one/certain person.
    7. I was more happy with him/her.
    8. He/she felt like the one!
    9. I wanted to marry him or her.
    10. I thought everything was real.
    11. I thought it will be forever.
    12. Many people have different reasons why they have anxiety and not just because they gone through a break up. But maybe that person helped them get through rough times or helped them not to think about it or have anxiety.

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    • every person you come across contributes something towards you! be it good or bad should not be ones concern!

      it is the void in the fulfilment of ones needs that arises after a relationship severs is what creates anxiety! one has needs of the body, the mind, the heart and the soul! it will take time to heal alright! just wait it off for a while! you'll feel better :-)

  • Perhaps unresolved feelings are manifesting as anxiety. I'd say spend a night "soul searching." Anything i dont feel like dealing with (greif, pain, stress, etc.) Tends to give me that gross anxiety feeling your describing. I either figure out whats causing it (usually by accident) or it becomes irrelevant and i've just spent a week skipping half my means because they make me nauseous lamo.

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  • It's because you don't have that comfort anymore. Relationships for better or worse still make us comfortable. Even if we are just going through the motions in our relationship like we are on autopilot. But once that routine is gone, and we realize we are now actuallyā€‹ alone we start thinking about the future. And we feel guilty about why it didn't work out. We start questioning what went wrong and then start thinking about what is the experienc from this relationship affects the net one we have.

    How can it not be stressful?

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  • Because we're already thinking of his/ her next bf/ girlfriend... we don't like to see somebody move on who we thought was gonna be in our future...

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  • Maybe the sadness of losing the person and the connection?

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  • I guess the thought of what now...

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  • I've never broke up with anyone, the way I understand what friends have told me is; it's almost like they are mourning the loss of what could have been.

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  • I think it's just the anxiety of trying to get your life back on track without that other half. Everything changes, especially if you lived together. It's very hard.

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  • Yes... because of the unknown. I hope you feel better soon.

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  • it's BC we put a lot of ourselves into relationships especially long lasting ones. the anxiety is trying to find someone else that fulfills that missing part of yourself

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  • he was someone you cared about.. it's okay

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  • Actually there is studies that point to the idea of woman becoming dependent on the semen of partner. Crazy shit!

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  • I'm experiencing the same thing right now

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  • you miss the person and feel like you need them but really you don't

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  • If it was the "right thing to do" as you say and you are sure of it then you shouldn't experience anxiety you should experience relief. I think you may be asking yourself internally if the break up was right after all... self doubt is natural

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  • Had the same thing happened for a very long time too. Luckily I got over it now.

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  • Well, I think all anxiety is like amplified worry. Some worry makes sense. Like fear for the future, financial and job security, housing - those are some pretty basic human needs that can be affected by a break-up. Then there are the intangibles like "what if I am just being really mean to this person?" "what if the problem is ME and NOT the relationship?" "hey, we love each other, so why can't we make it work? and why is he being so angry about this?" and "Oh crap, this guys is going to turn total stalker and come to my work and rub feces on the windows!" Of course, with worry, you can start with reasonable worries, and they can become magnified in the mind until we blow them all out of proportion ("Oh no, now I'm feeling anxious because I sound like a crazy person.") And then for some of us there are realistic worries that sound pretty far fetched, but because of who we are dealing with, we know they probably aren't all that far fetched. ("That woman is SOOO irrational and vindictive, I wouldn't put it past her to sue the crap out of me." "no, really, she's got a gun on her all the time and has been known to shoot.")

    So the real deal is trying to say: "My anxiety is at a 12, but the situation probably only warrants about a 4, so I need to get my head together."

    OR

    "My anxiety is at a 6 but my ex is really nuts, so I should probably be more at an 11, so I don't get killed by that guy."

    OR

    "I think my worries are legitimate, I'll be ok, but I just want to make sure X, Y and Z don't happen because it'll create more hassle than it's worth."

    It's partially our compassion for the other person - typically, though we may be very angry with someone, MOST of us want our ex to be ok and have a decent life, and so we want to avoid being cruel or insensitive to them. And then there's sometimes the feelings about making the choice of self-preservation, and does that mean we are actually selfish jerks?

    In general, SOME anxiety shows we are sensitive, compassionate, aware people. And then other anxiety shows us we really need to take a look at ourselves and be objective about how we will do better in the future.

    Then of course there's the fear: "Will I ever find someone to love me after this?" And logically we mostly knwo we will, but instinctually, this gives us somepause.

    Anxiety is uncomfortable, but if it motivates you to make thoughtful choices during the break-up and in the future, perhaps it has a purpose not easily achieved by other things.

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