Keywords: Love, intimacy, lust, nuerochemicals, mental health, Nigeria.
Psychological Effects of Love – Nigeria. Does love come from the heart? Being in love is a chemical process. How does love affect mental health?
Love is difficult to define, but it is an emotional experience related to strong affection and attachment. It involves intimacy, commitment and passion.
Intimacy means having that feeling of closeness, emotional connectedness and being supportive. So that the people involved are able to share their thoughts, their feelings and experiences.
There is a difference between love and lust. In lust, passion is the only involvement. This means that when someone has lust towards someone, all he or she thinks and imagines about is sexual involvement.
Does love come from the heart?
The heart shape is used worldwide to express love. How the heart came to be associated with love in history, has many versions.
Contrary to popular belief, love has nothing to do with physical heart. The physical heart pumps blood in humans to the different parts of the body. Love is actually a brain phenomenon.
Being in love is a chemical process.
Let us look at the activities of the brain when we love or feel loved. The reward centers in the limbic system are the areas of the brain activated during love. These brain areas are the ventral tegmental area VTA and the caudate nucleus.
When one is in love or in an area of desire, the blood flow is increased to these areas of the brain. Thus getting these areas of the brain activated.
Incidentally, the amygdale which is the brain area responsible for fear gets deactivated and fear disappears.
Also the frontal lobe of the brain gets deactivated, as well. The frontal lobe is responsible for judgment, planning, thinking, etc. So if one is in love, the frontal lobe stops functioning adequately. And he or she may not be able to see the red flags in their relationship. This is when love can be said to be blind.
Certain neurochemicals get involved when one is in love or in the area of desire.
This neurotransmitter makes it possible for people to be attracted to each other in the first place. It is needed for one to fall in love. And it is the cause of romantic feelings in lovers. It makes lovers want to be together more often.
The more time people spend with each other, the more dopamine is released causing them to be addicted to each other. It makes them not wanting to leave each other.
These are chemicals present in the body secretions of human beings. They can be detected by tiny organs in human nose connected to the brain. They also help people get attracted to each other. And it helps the breastfeeding baby attach to the mother.
They can also make people repel each other. So people can fall in love via the smell or scent that comes from the other person. None attraction via the scent of the other person can prevent people from falling in love.
This is a chemical that helps humans bond with their mates. Its level is high in the brain of people who love each other.
It increases the heart rate and dilated the pupils of the eye. Also it stimulates the sweat glands and causes sweating. And the brain comes more alert.
They are the feeling good chemicals that calms one and reduces pain. Endorphins are released when one is touched by a loved one. For example, if a baby is crying and the mother touches the baby, the baby stops crying. Endorphins cause euphoria, the feeling of intense excitement and happiness.
This is also released when one is in love. It is the hormone released when lovers are cuddling each other. It gives lovers pleasure. This hormone is also released when one is touched, kissed, during sexual intercourse, etc.
How does love affect mental health?
Or the psychological effects of love in Nigeria.
Love is necessary for good mental health. The need to belong and have interpersonal attachment is a necessary human motivation.
There are different ways love affects mental health.
This is the act of valuing ones own well being and overall happiness. It involves unconditional support and caring for oneself.
Everyone must love himself or herself, it is not a sin. It is not selfishness or self centeredness.
It is a golden rule in religion. In the Christian religion, we are given the commandment to love others as we love ourselves. So to love oneself, one must be willing to meet one’s personal needs, to love oneself unconditionally and give oneself priority. Self love is part of building self esteem.
Self esteem comes when one evaluates oneself positively and seeing oneself as worth, and having respect and confidence in oneself.
So having self esteem is important in mental health. This is because those with good self esteem are happy in life and well motivated. They have less risk in breaking down with depression and anxiety. And they can cope well with life’s challenges and difficulties.
Those with low self esteem feel worthless and less satisfied with life. They can present with aggression, less competence, and are more at risk of breaking down with psychiatric conditions. These include depression, eating disorders, substance abuse and suicide.
Couple or romantic love:
Know that every normal human being wants to be loved, with the exceptions of those with certain personality disorders.
It is the need for this love that keep people searching for suitable partners and staying with the partner. Love is the ultimate positive reinforcement one can have.
In romantic love, there are increased loving, touching, kissing, and cuddling. These cause the increase in neurotransmitters and other neurochemicals in the brain.
Romantic relationships are important for emotional bonding, and contribute to self concept and social interactions.
A sustainable romantic relationship has been described by different researchers to contribute to physical and mental wellbeing.
Adults with romantic relationships are happier more satisfied with their lives, with less physical and mental health issues. They have good self esteem.
Getting married to a good match partner reduces the risk of depression.
A great wellbeing is associated with a good romantic relationship, interacting with partner and investing greater time in one’s relationship. It is the continual social interactions between couples that sustain the marriage.
The feeling of being alone can be very devastating. So for a couple who have been together for many years, losing a spouse can cause the remaining spouse to die. The love is usually so strong that the living partner cannot imagine life without the other partner.
Some couple relationships have been found by some studies to have negative outcome, especially romantic relationships in adolescence. These early adolescents may not have the required capacity to cope with stress of being in love. So they develop violence, depression, anxiety, poor psychosocial functions and delinquency.
The love between mother and child:
Love as said earlier is difficult to describe. It is more emotional than sexual. And it is a feeling of tender caring for another person. Also it’s a major facilitator of interpersonal relationships, like that which occurs between parents and their children. It is friendship based on shared interest.
A secured attachment between a child and the caregiver which most often is the mother is borne out of love.
Attachment is an intense emotional bond that promotes long lasting relationships. The aim of the mother’s caregiving is to reduce the child’s suffering, protect the child and foster healthy development.
Psychological effects of love in Nigeria between mother and child.
When this system functions well, it benefits the child and the mother. It promotes generativity in the mother and helps the mother know that she can contribute to other people’s welfare. This gives the mother a positive feeling about her own efficacy and goodness. It also contributes to the wellbeing of the child mentally and physically.
Research has it that when parents love each others, their children are known to remain longer in school. They also get married later in life. This is because the parents’ connectedness to each other affect child rearing so much that it shapes their children’s future.
When parents love each other, they invest more in their children who also grow up happier. This is because they tend to see their parents as role models. And they tend to seek out the same characteristics of their parents in their future partners.
Children strive in a stable and nurturing environment where they learn how to regulate their emotions. They can also cope with life adversities.
Not being able to parent well can destabilize caregiving. Family instability can lead to problem behaviours in children, with poor academic outcomes.
Toxic stress can damage the architecture of the brain of the child. This leads to academic failures, depression, anxiety, criminality, etc.
Loving one’s neighbor:
The Bible encourages us to do so. This is because man is social in nature, connected to family, friends and to their communities. Such people are happy, healthy and live long with few mental health issues.
From childhood to old age, being connected to people helps one to better deal with stress. It is not the number of friends one has that matters, but the quality of close relationships that matters.
Having a positive relationship can give one a sense of belonging.
Happiness and health are not the result of wealth, but happiness comes from the relationship that one has with others.
The relationships one has in adulthood are very important to one’s mental health. Having a friend who is happy and lives close by, can increase one’s happiness as much as 25%. This is according to researcher. It can increase to 34% if the friend is a next door neighbor
Being part of a community helps one feel connected, supported and have a sense of belonging. So during retirement, being involvement in local activities such as volunteering and playing sports can improve one’s mental health.
High rate of mental illness such as depression and anxiety are associated to loneliness, isolation and social rejection.
The psychological effects of love in Nigeria to the mentally ill.
This can be stressful for the family of those with mental illness, but for the mentally ill, it is vital. Social support for those with mental illness helps them get better. Even having casual conversations with family and friends will aid recovery in the mentally ill.
Love to the mental ill can be shown via removing social stigma at school, at work, and allowing them to have access to good housing conditions and financial power.
Also showing empathy to the mentally ill will reduce the loneliness. And ensuring the person receives treatment is actually an act of love.
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