Is it true common antidepressants can make us fall out of love because they increase serotonin levels?
It’s possible. Taking a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drug like Prozac or Lexapro drives up the serotonin system in the brain, and that drives down the dopamine system. So with less dopamine, you are possibly dampening your ability to feel intense, romantic love. We sometimes hear of people who go on SSRI medications and suddenly feel no passion for their partner or even fall out of love. That’s why I think it’s so important that when people are being treated with SSRI drugs they work with a licensed neuropsychopharmacologist, who fully understands the interactions and implications of taking these medications, as well as proper medical guidance.
Why does a crush feel all-consuming?
That’s because it’s a drive. The area of the brain that produces dopamine and lights up when we’re in love is near other regions that control thirst and hunger. So, it feels all-consuming because it is all-consuming—and it’s meant to spur us into action. This biological drive evolved millions of years ago to give us the ability to focus intently on another member of our species and mate.
Is love a uniquely human emotion?
Human beings aren’t the only ones who experience romantic love — other animals do too. As Dr. Fisher mentioned on the podcast, research has found that more than 100 species show some form of romantic love. Their dopamine system, like ours, gets things going. When the female elephant is in estrus, or heat, for example, she’ll concentrate on one male and they’ll snuggle up and pat each other with their trunks before they mate. Isn’t it romantic?
How do we progress from feeling smitten to wanting to move in or have kids together?
Attachment is a bit like a mother’s love, where she’d step in front of a bullet to protect her child. This maternal connection is driven by oxytocin (the so-called “bonding” or “cuddle” hormone), which is often heightened between mother and baby at birth. Likewise, studies have shown that vasopressin contributes toward protective behavior and parents’ desire to create a safe environment for their children.
How has the pandemic impacted the way we fall in love? Can we fall in love anyway?
No doubt, COVID has changed just about every aspect of life, including how we fall in love. Because of the pandemic, many people are meeting virtually or at least not coming into close physical contact. So they’re getting to know each other, finding out their similarities, and forming an attachment. You can definitely be close to someone as a friend first and have it grow into a lustful romance. So yes, we can still fall in love in the age of COVID-19.
You can think of it this way: There are varying degrees of lust, attraction, and attachment in any relationship. Love is such a complex thing. And it all comes back to our survival and the evolutionary need for us to fall deeply in love and partner up.