Talk:Mental breakdown

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At a glance, that website doesn't seem to support very much of what is said here; in fact, the way I read it, it's kind of contradictory to acute attack of mental illness such as depression or anxiety; the website linked claims the term "nervous breakdown" is used to conceal more serious disorders because of stigma and then goes on with a laundry list of disorders with symptoms similar to those described in the article, which sounds like it'd fit better here, to me. Then again, I know bupkis about psychology, so I'm hoping some way more capable hands come along. - Ambientlight 18:53, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

As far as I can tell, this article should be VfD'ed in its current state, if it isn't cleaned up. I have some experience with many of the things colloquially referred to as mental breakdowns, and this article is seriously off, based on my own experiences and that of others. Zuiram 15:11, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

Observation: historical perspective?[edit]

I have been reading several historical accounts recently and noted that the term "nervous breakdown" was much more commonly used in the late-19th and early-20th century. I assume this is because the advance of psychological research has pinpointed the actual source of a "nervous breakdown". As such, I would think this article should mainly be about the history of the term and not the psychological science behind it. --DeweyQ 16:07, 22 July 2006 (UTC)

Example account:

  • Tom Adriann "suffered a nervous breakdown" and threw himself overboard (in Boy Charlton article).

Since the term is not even accepted in modern psychiatry, this entry really makes no sense. It cites several cases such as Sylvia Plath and calls them nervous breakdowns, when those were not the clinical terms for what she underwent. She had depression and may have had a mental illness. She was given shock treatments. She ended up committing suicide. Putting her into this article without a better explanation of her illness is misleading.

This article states contradictory examples, and states that a nervous breakdown lasts a week, yet a nervous breakdown is really stress or burnout. This article really needs to be rewritten completely. It should be explained more clearly that it's an outmoded term that belongs to an earlier era which supported the concept of mental asylums, which were meant to be places for people suffering burnout to recover in a peaceful setting.

In today's world, nervous breakdown is rarely used but is a slang for a burnout. Burnout and its after effects can go on for years, even with treatment. It is far too hazy the way it is discussed to have any meaning for an encyclopedia entry.

May 19, 2009: I agree that this article is misleading as it is written. I think that the term is used so commonly among laypeople, that the article should not be deleted, but it needs to be revised.
During my inpatient psychiatry rotation in medical school, most people we admitted for a "nervous breakdown" had a DSM-IV diagnosis of "adjustment disorder." The DSM-IV defines this as an "acute reaction to overwhelming stress in persons of any age who have no apparent underlying mental disorders." This Wiki article implies or states that most nervous breakdowns are due to a "mental illness," and this is not correct.
It's difficult to find a scholarly reference defining "nervous breakdown," as the term is not used professionally. PubMed lists only 38 abstracts using the term; most of these are more than a decade old, and over half were not written in English originally. One survey of 121 undergrads and 189 community laypeople about the definition of "nervous breakdown," and states "Descriptive statistics and analysis of variance indicated NB is a time-limited condition that presents with primarily anxious and depressed features, associated with a series of external precipitating stressors (e.g., interpersonal, employment, and financial losses). Dimensions significantly uncharacteristic of NB included psychoticism, somatization, phobic anxiety, and mania." Rapport LJ Journal of Personality Assessment, Volume 71, Issue 2 January 1998 , pages 242 - 252. This description most resembles an adjustment disorder, which is more of a situational difficulty than a mental illness. Paralucent (talk) 07:04, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
I edited this article to make it more dependent on scholarly journal articles on the subject. I hope I did not step on any toes, as I made some major changes based on the articles I cited. Paralucent (talk) 11:26, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

Popular Depictions:

If I'm not mistaken, isn't the entire book Catcher in the Rye Holden's stay in a mental hospital due to a nervous breakdown?

Sudden Dissociative Mental Break[edit]

This article does not include the information that the term "Nervous Breakdown" was replaced by "Dissociative Mental Break."

A private psychology project on the Internet argues that these mental events are actually outcomes of exposure to "Visual Subliminal Distraction."

The phenomenon and conflict of the physiology of sight that causes exposure can be demonstrated with a small experiment. Mental events like nervous breakdowns happen around the world where the special circumstances are created by living conditions.

The index page is: http://VisionAndPsychosis.Net L K Tucker 15:24, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

Without any medical documentation, this has no place in the article. Also, I'd say it seems pretty dubious. I see no correlation here, and have experienced brief reactive psychosis both in the strong presence and complete absence of the distractions they warn against. This is congruent with what all non-epileptics I know have experienced: no correlation. Zuiram 15:22, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

You will not find medical documentation for Subliminal Distraction. It comes from the Design discipline.

To verify this phenomenon you will have to make phone calls to designers working for office furniture makers. Designers, engineers, and psychologists solved the problem of sudden mental breaks in crowded offices by 1968. Although that discovery is sometimes mentioned as a historical reference the problem escaped knowledge of medical and psychiatric practitioners.

Those designers did not understand what they had found. When they solved their immediate problem they stopped. No one ever made the connection to mental illness. So little is thought of the problem that it does not appear in textbooks. It is communicated in lecture material.

There was a general re-naming of conditions in the DSM that eliminated "Nervous Breakdown." But it still is recorded in Culture Bound Syndromes as "Ataque de Nervios" in Latin America, the Caribbean and Latin ethnic groups of the Mediterranean.

I don't understand why when writing an article Wikipedia authors insist on using the names of "disorders" from the DSM. You are copying a convention used without knowledge of cause.

Today the term Nervous Breakdown is used as an 'idiom of distress' just as Ataque de Nervios is.

I agree that the article should be edited or removed.

L K Tucker (talk) 05:17, 4 April 2008 (UTC)


I removed the recent laundry list of possible improvements because it was so long as to be unhelpful. This is a WP:STUB. Of course it needs improvement. If you want to tag the article with the most important issues, then that's fine with me. However, a list of ten different problems is more likely to leave editors feeling overwhelmed instead of inspiring them to action. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:33, 19 May 2008 (UTC)


I've been told that drinking coffee when nervous can lead to a nervous breakdown. Is there any credibility on this? - .:. Jigsy .:. (talk) 15:05, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

I'm sorry, this isn't an internet chat board. This page is for discussing improvements to this article. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:46, 22 November 2008 (UTC)
I was actually thinking about "Potential Causes", but whatever ... - .:. Jigsy .:. (talk) 08:25, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
I believe that if you overdose on caffeine (from any source), you can get symptoms similar to a panic attack, which isn't exactly the same thing as a mental breakdown, but might be easily confused. WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:44, 25 November 2008 (UTC)


"surveys of laypersons suggest that the term refers to a specific acute time-limited reactive disorder, involving symptoms of anxiety and depression, usually precipitated by external stressors" is complate bs. No layperson ever said that. Applying an apparently scientific description to "non-scientific" data is misleading at best. I would put it in a similar categorisation to the concept of a computer program having "a bug" in that the person saying so might realise that something is not right but having little or no concept of what is causing the problem (or more likely having little care to be bothered with what the particular problem may be).

This article should, in my opinion, be strictly reduced to a brief (non-scientific-sounding) description of the general idea of what the la(z)yperson's understanding (or care-factor) is with a list of related articles, synonyms, etc. The current definition appears to be a straw poll of what the people around the water-cooler think it means, and having an "encyclopeadic" definition based on that is just lame. If the definition is based on such a straw poll, then the psych-science should show that. Spxl (talk)

spxl seems to be a straw man, and therefore no longer concerned with this response, but I'll offer it anyway: the quote says "surveys...suggest" not that any layperson ever said as such. This is an article about an uncategorized variety of illnesses, which not only don't fall into convenient little diagnoses, but have also been referred to by the public by this catch-all term for 100 years, give or take. As this article is about that term, it must also be nebulously defined, hence this - completely adequate, in my opinion - intro.PacificBoy 21:11, 15 April 2010 (UTC), no more an expert than the late unlamented spxl.

Nervous Breakdown[edit]

From my experience as a student of linguistics/language, Nervous Breakdown is used more in the UK/US than Mental Breakdown. Plus, there are 1.6 million Google results for Nervous Breakdown as opposed to 600,000 for Mental Breakdown. Even a search for Mental Breakdown has most results coming up as Nervous Breakdown.

I suggest moving over to the Nervous Breakdown page which I have redirected to here.

Medical advice[edit]

To my horror, I've seen enough people wandering into talk pages seeking anonymous Wikiusers' medical advice to remove this line as outright asking for trouble: "Seeking professional aid may be helpful in these situations."PacificBoy 21:14, 15 April 2010 (UTC)