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Broken heart (also known as a heartbreak or heartache) is a metaphor for the intense emotional stress or pain one feels at experiencing great and deep longing. The concept is cross-cultural, often cited with reference to a desired or lost lover.
Failed romantic love can be extremely painful; sufferers of a broken heart may succumb to depression, anxiety and, in more extreme cases, posttraumatic stress disorder.
The intense pain of a broken heart is believed to be part of the survival instinct. The "social-attachment system" uses the "pain system" to encourage humans to maintain their close social relationships by causing pain when those relationships are lost. Psychologists Geoff MacDonald of the University of Queensland and Mark Leary of Wake Forest University proposed in 2005 the evolution of common mechanisms for both physical and emotional pain responses and argue that such expressions are "more than just a metaphor". The concept is believed to be universal, with many cultures using the same words to describe both physical pain and the feelings associated with relationship loss.
In many legends and fictional tales, characters die after suffering a devastating loss; however, even in reality people die from what appears to be a broken heart. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy or Broken heart syndrome is commonly described as a physical pain in the chest or heart or stomach area, which is due to the emotional stress caused by a traumatic breakup or the death of a loved one.
Broken heart syndrome mimics symptoms of a heart attack, but it is clinically different from a heart attack because the patients have few risk factors for heart disease and were previously healthy prior to the heart muscles weakening.