| June 20, 2013

Are you experiencing sleeplessness, loss of appetite or an upset stomach? They may sound like symptoms of the flu, but these unpleasant feelings can also accompany the start of a new relationship.

“When we first fall for someone, we experience a bath of chemicals in our brain that moves us from physical attraction into a more compulsive state of mind, similar to addiction," explains sex and relationship expert Dr. Tammy Nelson.

Along with the euphoria that comes with a new love, stronger and (sometimes) unwanted symptoms can include lack of focus, restlessness and even sadness when separated from the other person.

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This so-called "lovesickness" develops from either longing for someone you’ve just met and have fallen for, or being in love with someone that you can’t have, says Nelson.

“For the first three months of love, your dopamine surges and you get lovesick in that you can't think about anything else, and often even lose your appetite," adds clinical psychologist Dr. Belisa Vranich

The strongest symptoms are experienced in the first three months of a relationship, and once sex is involved, those intense feelings of wanting can linger for over a year, Vranich adds.  

Sometimes, those early lovesick feelings can often feel similar to heartbreak.

“People can confuse the two and feel like their early relationship must not be working out if things are not happening fast enough,” says Nelson.

READ: Is 'Bang with Friends' Changing the Way People View Relationships?

Jeremi McManus, a relationship coach and psychotherapist, says many often feel anxious in the beginning due to the uncertainty of the new relationship.

“Often in the beginning, we may find ourselves constantly asking, ‘where do I stand?’ or ‘I’m monogamous, but is he or she?’ Those internal questions cause more anxiety and racing thoughts.” 

It follows that time and communication can help ease the symptoms, says McManus. Once the relationship is established, many of the anxious feelings tend to fade away.

“Often when people get back to normal or even fall out of love, they look back surprised," says Vranich.

Nelson agrees, saying that after a while, the chemicals in your brain adjust to their normal levels. “Eventually, things mellow and you will either settle into the attachment phase or you will find someone else,” she says.