When we are in the throes of love, our bodies and brains are changed in remarkable ways. It might feel like an intangible emotion, but in fact, the experience of love is wired deep within us and changes our physiology. From increased oxytocin levels to increased heart rate, here’s an overview of how our physical and mental health responds when we are in love.

The Brain on Love

Love is a powerful emotion and its effects have been studied in multiple disciplines. Neuroimaging research has found that different areas of the brain are activated when people are viewing photographs of those they are in love with. The same areas are activated in response to other pleasurable experiences, such as eating chocolate or winning money. The feeling of love is closely associated with dopamine and the hormone oxytocin, which is linked to long-term relationships.

The Eyes Have it

When we gaze into the eyes of our loved ones, our pupils actually dilate, signaling to them how intensely we feel about them. Additionally, hormones like oxytocin are released when we look into each other’s eyes and this is thought to signal a sense of trust and connection. This phenomenon are also linked to sexual attraction and arousal.

Love Hormones: Oxytocin and Dopamine

When two people fall in love and express that love, several hormones are released, including oxytocin and dopamine. Oxytocin is often referred to as the love hormone because it helps binds individuals together and helps form social bonds. Oxytocin has been linked to trust, compassion, and empathy and is responsible for a surge of comforting emotion when we hug, kiss or cuddle with a partner.

Dopamine is sometimes referred to as the “motivation hormone” and it plays an important role in the reward systems of the brain. When people are in love, dopamine is released, which we experience as a feeling of euphoria and desire.

The Physiology of Love

There is physiological evidence of love as well. When someone is in love, the body releases hormones such as adrenaline, serotonin, vasopressin, and pheromones, which are responsible for creating physical changes in the body. This can include an increased heart rate, sweaty palms, flushing of the cheeks, and even a surge of adrenaline. All of these physiological responses can be triggered merely by thinking about or seeing a loved one.

The Psychological Effects Of Being In Love

Being in love can also have profound psychological effects. People in love often report feeling happier and more secure. Studies have found that couples in loving relationships actually have increased levels of serotonin in their brains, which is associated with improved mood, better concentration, and reduced anxiety.

People in love also tend to experience fewer symptoms of depression. Another study found that couples who experienced a mutual loving relationship experienced greater psychological health than those with a non-reciprocal love connection. Additionally, couples in healthy, loving relationships tend to experience increased levels of oxytocin, which is known to create feelings of safety and trust.

Love is a powerful emotion that can affect us physiologically and psychologically. When we are in love, our brains release hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin, which can trigger physical changes in the body, such as an increased heart rate, sweaty palms, and a surge of adrenaline. On a psychological level, people in love tend to feel happier, more secure, and experience fewer symptoms of depression. Understanding the ways in which being in love changes our bodies and brains can help us better appreciate the power of love.