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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 February, 2005, 11:38 GMT
Unrequited love can be a 'killer'
Love Hearts
Experts say people can die from a broken heart
Lovesickness can kill and should be taken more seriously as a legitimate diagnosis, according to health experts.

Frank Tallis, a clinical psychologist in London, is among those calling for greater awareness of the "illness" in a report in The Psychologist magazine.

He said many are "destabilised by falling in love, or suffer on account of their love being unrequited" and this could lead to a suicide attempt.

Few studies deal with the "specific problem of lovesickness", he said.

Physical exhaustion

Prof Alex Gardner, a clinical psychologist in Glasgow and a member of the British Psychological Society, agreed that doctors needed to be more aware of lovesickness as a possible diagnosis.

He said: "People can die from a broken heart.

"You get into a state of despair and hopelessness."

He said as a result of love, in some people it could lead to an extreme state of physical exhaustion.

In extreme cases lovesickness could drive people to take their own life, he added.

Dr Tallis said that before the 18th Century lovesickness had been accepted as a natural state of mind for thousands of years.

He said in modern day terms the symptoms can include mania, such as an elevated mood and inflated self-esteem, or depression, revealing itself as tearfulness and insomnia.

Aspects of obsessive compulsive disorder can also be found in those experiencing lovesickness, such as preoccupation and obsessively checking for text messages and e-mails.


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