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What is a "nervous breakdown?"

answered 10:38 PM EST, Mon March 31, 2014
anonymous anonymous
What does it mean to have a nervous break down? Is this an actual psychological diagnosis or is this a popular cultural term that isn’t really a real diagnosis?

E W Says...

Technically, "nervous breakdown" is not a clinical diagnosis.  However, it is frequently and commonly used to describe a variety of mental health issues or symptoms (in addition to colloquial phrases meant to imply overload or stress).  

The Mayo Clinic does a nice job of addressing this question in a brief question and answer about "nervous breakdowns."

Often when a person feels they are going to "have a nervous breakdown" they are feeling overloaded, overburdened, and overwhelmed.  Sometimes someone may tell someone else to "calm down" so there is no "nervous breakdown" - perhaps based on symptoms of anxiety or agitation.

If you have concerns about yourself or someone else, contact your local crisis hotline or health insurance referral provider.  You can also contact local churches or mental health support groups, or medical professionals for assistance.

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Page last updated Mar 31, 2014

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