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Love and Mental Health

While many view love as an “enigma”, it really is simple in some respects. Love is defined as “the deep feeling of affection”.

Love plays a vital role in reducing feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression are the most prevalent mental health diagnoses in America today.

Mental health is enhanced by the feeling that you are valued and important. Being in a loving relationship better helps us to deal with stress and assists us in engaging in more “adaptive behavior”.

Social isolation often goes hand in hand with anxiety, depression and a poor sense of well-being.

A long term, caring relationship is strongly associated with an increased life span, better attention to health maintenance and recovery and resilience from anxiety and depression. Ghandi said “where there is love there is life”. Being in a long term, caring relationship better insures good health in that a person who cares about you will often notice a change in health status before the individual will when left on their own. In addition, it makes a person more likely to follow through with a needed visit to the doctor rather than missing a change in health or dismissing a change in health status as “No big deal”. Those not in love can still benefit from a friendship. Studies have suggested that love, friendship and stable caring relationships can be as important to life as food and water.

New love improves your mood and is associated with the rise in dopamine levels, a feel good chemical. Yet at the same time love can be more complex as it is often associated with erratic behavior as the chemical cortisol and serotonin are released. These chemicals assist in the regulation of mood. With the passage of time however dopamine can stay at initial levels while stress chemicals can decrease. This results in a turn to more normal behavior. In lonely people the chemicals norepinephrine and adrenaline can be increased.

Being in a loving relationship helps a person deal with lack including economic lack. A person in love can feel content with a modest wage, in a modest home, surrounded by modest belongings. At the same time, it is important to note that a wealthy person in a grander home, with grander belongings can feel perfectly miserable.

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