Feeling loved can make you less anxious, but the effect is much stronger in stable, long-term relationships than it is in new romances. Researchers at the State University of New York at Stony Brook scanned the brains of people in love, both in new relationships and long-term ones, using functional MRI. While both groups showed activation in the areas of the brain associated with love — the dopamine "reward" part — other parts of the brain looked surprisingly different. For the couples in strongly connected relationships, areas associated with bonding were also activated, but the anxiety-producing areas were less active. New lovebirds, on the other hand, had spikes in cortisol, the stress hormone. They also had a drop in serotonin, the mood-regulating neurotransmitter. This might explain why new lovers tend to experience a mix of erratic emotions like passion, obsession, and nervousness.
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