Big Question: Can love actually kill you?

Love means different things to different people, and it can be filled with highs and lows. But how high is the high? Can love become so overpowering that it's more like an addictive high than the steady blossoming of a relationship?

Curiosity contributor Bambi Turner took a look at romance, particularly its addictiveness. Here's what she found.

In the early days of a new romance, it's easy to spend your time focused on your new love. In many ways, this all-consuming love can be a lot like an addiction.

Psychiatrist Donatella Marazziti studied the brain chemistry of people in love and found that the levels of serotonin in their brains were much lower than normal [source: BBC]. People in love exhibited the same low serotonin levels as people with obsessive-compulsive disorders. Serotonin is responsible for regulating mood, impulse control and even how we handle inhibitions. People with low levels of it often exhibit signs of uncontrollable obsession with, or addiction to, love, compulsive behaviors or even drugs and alcohol.

Fortunately, when Marazziti tested the same subjects a year later, she found that serotonin levels for the couples in her study were back to normal. This indicates that the addiction to love is temporary, and that most people eventually return to normal life. Some experts think infatuation is simply Mother Nature's way of keeping people together long enough to mate, to help continue the human species.

Of course, this doesn't mean relationships can't last well past the one-year mark. It simply means that couples that make it past this initial period have looked beyond lust to create strong, meaningful relationships.

But what about those who can't seem to find lasting love? Some people, unable to form lasting bonds, continue to chase the highs of infatuation. Addiction expert Ann Smith says the inability to maintain a relationship beyond initial attraction can be due to low self-esteem, lack of relationship role models or a desire to chase the perfect romance [source: Smith]. People in these categories may experience long-term addictions to love that require the same type of treatment as addictions to drugs or alcohol.

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