The word “nervous breakdown” is colloquial and does not have a clear medical or scientific definition.

It is now only sometimes used, even as slang. Perhaps around the middle of the previous century, it was used more often.

Even then, it referred to a wide variety of mental diseases because of its ambiguous definition.

However, “nervous breakdown” was often understood to signify a serious mental illness that interfered with daily functioning (such as work, school, homemaking, or other social obligations).

Additionally, the phrase emphasized that external stress was a contributing factor to the acute mental condition (such as may occur at work, at school, within interpersonal relationships, or as a result of a catastrophic event).

Depressive episodes, manic episodes, psychotic episodes, panic attacks, adjustment disorders, acute stress disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are only a few of the particular mental diseases that fall under this notion.

Even while the term “nervous breakdown” is still used sometimes in casual conversation, it is more useful to specify the kind of acute mental illness.

However, persons who believe they are experiencing a “nervous breakdown” are likely to be very distressed and to be dealing with an acute mental illness of some kind. As a result, these people need to see a doctor as soon as feasible.

WATCH: What signs indicate a nervous breakdown? What makes it different from anxiety or depression? 

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