What is a Nervous Breakdown?

When I was young the term "nervous breakdown" was a bit mysterious. A few adults in my life had such episodes and I really did not know what was going on. Here are a few words about it excerpted from an article, authored by Mayo Clinic psychiatrist Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, titled What does it mean to have a nervous breakdown?
"The term "nervous breakdown" is sometimes used to describe a stressful situation in which someone becomes temporarily unable to function normally in day-to-day life. It's commonly understood to occur when life's demands become physically and emotionally overwhelming. The term was commonly used in the past to cover a variety of mental disorders; it's used less often today.

Nervous breakdown isn't a medical term, however, nor does it indicate a specific mental illness. But that doesn't mean it's a normal or a healthy response to stress. A nervous breakdown may indicate an underlying mental health problem that needs attention, such as depression or anxiety.

Signs of a nervous breakdown vary from person to person and depend on the underlying cause. Exactly what constitutes a nervous breakdown also varies from one culture to another. Generally, it's understood to mean that a person is no longer able to function normally."
I can definitely relate to being incapacitated by stress and stressful situations. Things happen in life that we are unable to process mentally and/or emotionally. I remember vividly that time when my wife Ann's legs were paralyzed on a cruise ship. I could not think my way to peace. I had to let go of my thinking and hear the Voice in my heart that told me of my need to release control and flow. In the end I think stress is often a symptom of times when life seems so out of control.


  1. Like so many of your posts, Bob, I totally agree. Thank you for your testimony.

    1. Thanks Kevin. I sometimes think that it is helpful to demystify these ideas.


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