A broken heart is a common metaphor for the state of mourning that accompanies the end of a relationship. This deep sadness usually comes from the death of a loved one, romantic or otherwise, or the end of an intimate relationship.
Someone suffering from a broken heart may also be said to be suffering from heartbreak.
A broken heart may come about in a variety of ways. It may be unintended, such as through the death of a loved one, or be inflicted on one individual by another, in cases of rejection, cheating, or another type of betrayal. Someone may also suffer a broken heart while separated from their loved one, perhaps through military service or due to other circumstances, even if the relationship is not over.
A broken heart is so named because people dealing with loss may feel a physical pain in their chest. While this pain is often present, it is not necessary for a person to say they have a broken heart. The same regions of the brain that are activated during physical pain also become active during the emotional pain of suffering from a broken heart. Heartbreak is not normally associated with a medical heart condition although sometimes emotional trauma can cause Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. This condition, also known as broken heart syndrome, causes the brain to release chemicals which weaken the heart’s tissue. This condition can cause death although people tend to recover from it faster than a heart attack.
It’s also common for people with a broken heart to cry, mope, feel numb, depressed, or angry at the situation and the world at large. Many believe that time to rediscover yourself and connect with others, as well as falling in love again, are the best ways to heal a broken heart.
More recently, the term broken heart has been thrown around to accompany less serious events such as the break-up of a musical group or the end of a television program. However, this usage is seen by many to trivialize the true nature of a broken heart.