By Dr. Lawana R. Lofton, PsyD –

Tell me, have you ever heard this statement? “When two Adults love each other very much, they……” It is a prelude to the inevitable conversation regarding relationships and sex education parents have with their young Adults. I would argue the most important aspect of this type of discussion often lacks information on what young Adults should know about coping and resiliency when their relationships fail.

Parents tend to avoid the conflict associated with this discussion as it is complex, plus the discussion is so “beautiful and positive” who wants to assume their child’s relationships will fail. Or, for that matter imagine the worst case scenario their child would be so hurt in a relationship they could experience depilating stress if it ended badly! Given the fact relationships do end, it would be best to equip Adults with tangible tools to bounce back after adversity. It is compassionate to do so.

What should we teach our young Adults about love, lost? What should we teach mature Adults about over coming despair and loss? Over the life span, mature Adults encounter their own challenges to include stressors such as Divorce, or worse, Death of a Spouse. So regardless of age, feelings associated with lost love, Grief and Bereavement, can create intense depilating stressors for everyone, not just the young. Many have described it as feelings felt so intensely deep it becomes difficult to even catch one’s breath. Feeling love, lost, is painful and has the potential to negatively impact both emotional and physical wellness.

Can a person die from a broken heart?

No.  Excessive emotional stressors can impact physical health however. According to the Associated Press (2011), Japanese doctors first recognized this syndrome around 1990 and named it Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy.

Females are seven to nine times more likely to suffer “broken heart syndrome,” when exposed to sudden, or prolonged stressors for example a emotional breakup, or death, causing overwhelming heart failure or heart attack-like symptoms. Usually patients recover with no lasting complications.

WebMD (2011) discusses “broken heart syndrome,” as a condition that occurs when stress and a troubled mind attack having all the similar symptoms of a heart attack, but is actually a different type of heart problem called Stress Cardiomyopathy.

The Texas Heart Institute Journal, Cardiovascular Diseases (2007) contends Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy has important implications, because its clinical presentation mimics that of an acute coronary syndrome. Increased awareness of Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy will likely result in it being diagnosed more frequently. With this, perhaps more referrals to Mental Health for strategies to manage stress.


What is resilience?

Many in our society believe “resilience” is when an individual can weather through difficult times like weather siding that “takes a beating and keeps on standing.” This is too vague because even weather siding can withstand a tropical storm, yet this does not mean it is still structurally strong enough to make another storm season.

Resilience is one’s ability to withstand adverse situations, and not develop statistically abnormal Psychological symptoms as a result. Exposure to trauma can have varying affects given one’s cognitive flexibility to process it, perspective, support, and its severity. While one individual exposed to great stressors may become overwhelmed, yet another continues to move forward without looking back and the trauma does not negatively impact their overall mental, physical, or emotional wellness.

WebMD (2011), states resilience is an “inner strength” that helps you bounce back after stressful situations. When you are resilient, you may recover more quickly from setbacks or difficult changes, including illness, muscle tension, pain, headaches, or gastrointestinal problems. They recommend increasing one’s resiliency by accepting that things change, strive to see the big picture in situations causing stress, and to change how you act.

An individual may turn out to have normally functioning cognitive flexibility, but have a tendency to dwell on sad thoughts, which can complicate adjustment to stressors felt. Possessing an optimistic view of life and abilities, helps us cope with stress and minimize its impact on wellness and physical health. The following is a comprehensive list of suggestions for building individual resiliency.

1. Expect Change: ”Change is inevitable, growth is optional.” When there is change it does not have to be viewed as a negative, or a threat, but a situation to be adjusted to in a positive way. WebMD states individuals should expect situations to work out. You cannot change what happens, but you can change how you feel about it. In addition, individuals should be more cognizant of how they feel, think and react to change to increase awareness of individual reactions to change.

2. Remain optimistic despite having to maneuver in a stressful situation. If we train ourselves to focus on the “big picture” we do not allow ourselves to be bogged down on only the negative aspects of a stressful situation.

[a ] Find the positive in stressful situations and learn from the situation.

[b ] Look for things to learn. Difficult or emotional situations can teach you about yourself. Look to the future, and ask yourself how the stressful event might help you.

[c ] See the funny side of bad situations.

3. Learn from experiences and ask for help in novel situations. Seek out support and friendships to weather you through difficult set backs. WebMD refers to this in their list as a Support Network one can use for obtaining love, laughter, help, and supportive relationships. As well as positive opportunities for entertainment, even talking about feelings, and managing emotions.

4. Be confident in your ability to solve problems efficiently and appropriately.

5. Know with 100% certainty “Everyone Wins at the Basics” in life with ease, and everything else is a learning curve. After meeting the basics, we can only measure our individual lives by degrees, and the realities of passing time.

[a ] With time, and learning from our experiences, the periods of success become growingly more frequent, which can convince an individual of their potential based on their track record. But, if a person gives up too early, they will never learn important basic lessons of resiliency and the true meaning of tenacity, and over coming adversity.

Resiliency Quiz

Take the Interactive Health Resiliency Quiz. Results will calculate for you immediately “How resilient are you?”

Until Next time: à Donf