What Exactly is A Nervous Breakdown?

I hear about people having nervous breakdowns. What exactly is a nervous breakdown?

My layman’s understanding is that “Nervous breakdown” equals not being up to taking on the tasks that life has for you. Becoming unable to function.

I know that sometimes when I am out socially, I’m unable to introduce myself to people. I just have so much anxiety.

Any time that I’m unable to do something normally expected because of my depression or anxiety, I’d say that is a tiny nervous breakdown.

What about when my life collapsed around me when I entered into Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in February of 1988? A syndrome that has not fully left me.

CFS dramatically cut down on my strength so that initially I was only able to do half as much as normal and eventually, only about a fifth of normal for about five years, until beginning a recovery in the end of 1993 that led me to my current state of being able to do about 70% of a normal life.

I think people not tightly connected to others, unmarried lonely people, are particularly prey to nervous breakdowns, CFS and the like. When you’re bonded with others, you’re more functional.

John emails: “But don’t they call that a “midlife crisis” these days? When was the last time you encountered the term “nervous breakdown” in popular culture? It comes up all the time in old movies from the fifties, but these days the expression seems to have vanished from view.”

Wikipedia says:

Mental breakdown (also known as a nervous breakdown) is a non-medical term used to describe an acute, time-limited phase of a specific disorder that presents primarily with features of depression or anxiety.

Mental breakdown (also known as a nervous breakdown) is a non-medical term used to describe an acute, time-limited phase of a specific disorder that presents primarily with features of depression or anxiety.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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