How To Mend A Broken Heart, According To A GP

Almost a quarter (23%) of Brits have suffered physical health effects because of a broken heart.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Or is it?

As much as the romantic songs, the balloon-filled supermarket stands and gushing social media posts may make you think differently, for many people, Valentine’s Day is anything but a happy day.

More than feeling sad and potentially rejected, having your heart broken can leave you feeling completely bereft and, in fact, according to research from Vitality Health Insurance, almost a quarter (23%) of Brits have suffered physical health effects as a result of a broken heart.

Yes, it turns out that ‘lovesick’ is actually a real thing.

How to physically recover from a broken heart

According to the research, the most common physical health effects as a result of a broken heart include loss of appetite, disrupted sleep causing tiredness/exhaustion, restlessness, physical aches and even nausea.

However, for some respondents, symptoms could be as debilitating as heart palpitations, chest pain and even trouble breathing.

Dr Katie Tryon, Director of Health and Strategy at Vitality health insurance expands on the physical impacts that manifest due to heartbreak:

“It’s easy to think of heartbreak as only being an emotional pain, but there is a strong link between mental and physical health. Alongside a demotivation to keep active and eat healthy, emotional stresses affect your levels of cortisol (stress hormone) and serotonin (happy hormone).”

Tryon went on to say that by staying active, you can boost your dopamine and serotonin levels. She said: ” Ultimately, the breakdown of a relationship can be one of the most stressful life events, and as such you should look after your health in the same way you would any other high-stress situation.”

Dr Katie Tyron’s tips for keeping healthy during heartache

Dr Tyron shared her essential tips for getting through those rough early days of heartache:

  • Be kind to yourself: It’s completely natural to experience the grief and trauma that can come with a heartbreak. Let yourself feel all those feelings but try to focus on accepting and rebuilding yourself after your period of grieving. Your mood and mental wellbeing are as important as your physical health
  • Keep moving: Staying active is always a good place to start to clear your mind and improve your mood. It is important to maintain your overall physical health during a time where you might lack motivation the most. This doesn’t have to be for long periods or of high intensity, instead it could be taking a 5-minute walk around the block or stretching / body tapping while waiting for the kettle to boil.
  • Keep a balanced diet: Although tempting, it’s also important to not lean into the temptation of consuming fast food and comfort eating. Unlike the movies, pints of ice-cream, endless supplies of chocolate and binge drinking will likely make you feel worse. Instead, make sure you stick to a healthy and balanced diet, to help take care of your mind and body during a stressful time. To do this, eat plenty of healthy foods to keep in tip top shape
  • Maintain healthy mental habits: I would also advise incorporating some healthy mental habits, such as mindfulness, journaling, using affirmations or practising gratitude to shift your focus. Please remove references to talking therapies, they are not for everyone going through a breakup, it is for those with a clinical need
  • Understand the link between mental and physical health: Whether you’re experiencing heartbreak or not, it’s always important to acknowledge that your mental health can in turn impact you physically. Findings from the Vitality Health Claims Insights Report 2023 found that focussing on mental health reduced the likelihood of hospitalisation for physical conditions

If you continue to struggle, speak to your GP for support.

Help and support:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).
  • CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.
  • The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email
  • Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0808 801 0525 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on