Love And Mental Health

Love and mental health

Verified by World Mental Healthcare Association

Love and mental health are very closely related. Each has an effect on the other. Feeling loved and being able to love others can greatly increase our happiness and quality of life.

How Love Affects Mental Health

The role of love in mental health is quite significant. Although love can’t ‘fix’ a person’s life, it has been seen to help improve overall physical and mental health. Studies 1 Umberson, D., & Montez, J. K. (2010). Social relationships and health: a flashpoint for health policy. Journal of health and social behavior, 51 Suppl(Suppl), S54–S66. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022146510383501 suggest that loving relationships and good social support can be important for good mental health.

A 2005 study 2 Esch, T., & Stefano, G. B. (2005). Love promotes health. Neuro endocrinology letters, 26(3), 264–267. theorized that engaging in love may activate areas in the brain that are responsible for emotion, motivation, and memory and may also help in stress reduction. Experts believe that love is capable of stimulating health and well-being 3 Esch, T., & Stefano, G. B. (2005). Love promotes health. Neuro endocrinology letters, 26(3), 264–267. and that love and mental health go hand-in-hand.

Read More About Chemistry Of Love Here

Positive Effects of Love on Mental Health

Mental health and love have been found to be positively correlated on several aspects, such as

  • Increased happiness
  • Enhanced self-worth
  • Greater resilience when experiencing stress 4 Esch, T., & Stefano, G. B. (2005). The Neurobiology of Love. Neuro endocrinology letters, 26(3), 175–192.
  • Reduced pain 5 Younger, J., Aron, A., Parke, S., Chatterjee, N., & Mackey, S. (2010). Viewing pictures of a romantic partner reduces experimental pain: involvement of neural reward systems. PloS one, 5(10), e13309. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0013309
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Improved immunity
  • Longer life span, etc.

A 2006 study 6 McIntyre, M., Gangestad, S. W., Gray, P. B., Chapman, J. F., Burnham, T. C., O’Rourke, M. T., & Thornhill, R. (2006). Romantic involvement often reduces men’s testosterone levels–but not always: the moderating role of extrapair sexual interest. Journal of personality and social psychology, 91(4), 642–651. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.91.4.642 suggested that increased levels of intimacy and attachment can help partners align their interests and coordinate their behaviors. These can in turn facilitate the maintenance of long-term relationships, while fostering feelings of emotional dependency, security, comfort, commitment, and reduced levels of anxiety 7 Fisher H. E. (1998). Lust, attraction, and attachment in mammalian reproduction. Human nature (Hawthorne, N.Y.), 9(1), 23–52. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12110-998-1010-5 .

Effects of love on mental health
Effects of love on mental health

Can Love Lead to Mental Illness?

While love and mental health for the most part are positively related, researchers have found some correlation between love and mental illnesses (or mental health conditions) as well.

1. Love and Anxiety

During the initial stages of falling in love, a person is likely to have high stress levels due to uncertainty and anticipation 8 Marazziti, D., & Canale, D. (2004). Hormonal changes when falling in love. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 29(7), 931–936. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2003.08.006 . In fact, studies have shown that adolescents who experience high levels of anxiety are also more likely to experience more passionate love 9 Hatfield, E., Brinton, C., & Cornelius, J. (1989). Passionate love and anxiety in young adolescents. Motivation and Emotion, 13(4), 271–289. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf00995539 .

Our ability to cope with stress is a crucial protective factor against mental disorders. Prolonged stress increases our blood cortisol levels which make us more susceptible to health problems.

2. Love and Depression

Although love generally heightens production of hormones such as dopamine and serotonin that increase feelings of happiness, certain romantic relationships can also lead to depression, especially when the phase of intense passion fades or multiple differences give rise to arguments and fallouts. In fact, adolescent romances can often result in heartbreaks and adverse effects 10 Welsh, D. P., Grello, C. M., & Harper, M. S. (2003). When love hurts: Depression and adolescent romantic relationships. In P. Florsheim (Ed.), Adolescent romantic relations and sexual behavior: Theory, research, and practical implications (pp. 185–211). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers. Available from: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9781410607782-15/love-hurts-depression-adolescent-romantic-relationships-deborah-welsh-catherine-grello-melinda-harper on mental health.

3. Love and Trauma

Sometimes, love can turn toxic and give you a great deal of trauma. A person who showers their partner with affection may also be abusive and disrespectful towards them, which can often confuse and tire them.

Facing betrayal 11 Kahn, L. (2006). The Understanding and Treatment of Betrayal Trauma as a Traumatic Experience of Love. Journal of Trauma Practice, 5(3), 57–72. https://doi.org/10.1300/j189v05n03_04 in love may also have lasting consequences on a person, making them suspicious and skeptical of romantic relationships due to past traumatic experiences.

Read More About Obsessive Love Disorder Here

How To Love Someone With Mental Illness

It may be difficult to navigate a relationship wherein your partner or loved one is suffering from a mental health condition as it can often affect your mental wellbeing as well.

Consider the following tips for a better relationship, love and mental health.

  1. Take time out for yourself. Make sure you have your individual interests/ solo hobbies. It can be a good idea to spend some time alone/ with your friends apart from your partner.
  2. Encourage them to seek help. Support your partner if they need therapy and try to ensure that they follow through with it. Couples therapy can also be a good idea if the relationship is suffering.
  3. Communicate and listen. The best way to understand someone is to hear them out and the best way to let someone know you feel is by being honest. Communication is therefore key.

Takeaway

Love and mental health are quite intricately connected. Being in a loving and supportive relationship can have a positive impact on your mental health and promote happiness. Several research studies provided evidence that a happy and stable relationship is connected to improved mental health, lower levels of stress, and reduced levels of depression.

However, sometimes love can also turn detrimental to health and have the reverse effect on mental health. Healthy relationship practices are thus necessary for a happy and fulfilling relationship.

At A Glance

  1. There is a strong relationship between love and mental health.
  2. The impact of love on mental health can be both positive and negative.
  3. Some positive correlations between love and mental health include higher self-esteem, improved quality of life, better resilience to stress, etc.
  4. Love can sometimes also lead to anxiety, depression, and trauma.
  5. When in a relationship with someone who has mental health conditions, it is best to encourage them to seek help and take some time out for yourself.

References:

8 Indications to recognize the signs of Social Anxiety 10 Ways to Cope With Overthinking Daily Mindfulness: Simple Practices for a Better Life 8 Steps to Enhance Your Father’s Well-being Journey 6 healing strategies to cope with trauma 8 ways exercise can boost your mental health 8 ways to cope with the signs of panic attack 7 Mental Health Benefits Of Watching Rom-Coms 10 Reasons Why People Find Horoscopes Comforting 10 Breathing Exercises For Mental Health How To Have A Mental Health Conversation With Your Partner 8 Tips To Overcome Trauma