nervous breakdown

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breakdown

 [brāk´doun]
1. the act or process of ceasing to function, or the resulting condition.
2. an often sudden collapse in health, physical or mental.
3. loss of self-control.
nervous breakdown a nonspecific, popular name for any type of mental disorder that interferes with the affected individual's normal activities, often implying a severe episode of sudden onset.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

ner·vous break·down

(ner'vŭs brāk'down),
Nonmedical term for an emotional or mental illness; often a euphemism for a psychiatric disorder.
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012

nervous breakdown

n.
A collapse in mental health, such as the onset of a severe mood disorder, that precludes normal functioning and may require hospitalization. Not in clinical use.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

nervous breakdown

Psychiatry A dated term that encompasses anxiety, panic and depressive disorders Psychology A popular term for being mentally overwhelmed by circumstance and accumulated acute stressors
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

ner·vous break·down

(nĕr'vŭs brāk'down)
Nonmedical but very common term for an emotional or mental illness; often a colloquialism for a psychiatric disorder.
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012

nervous breakdown

A popular and imprecise term used to describe any emotional, neurotic or psychotic disturbance ranging from a brief episode of hysterical behaviour to a major psychotic illness such as SCHIZOPHRENIA.
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Just as nervous breakdown accommodated various views about over- and under-work, and about gender, the concept inevitably maintained vital tensions about personal blame.
Many a wise, well-poised woman, who is a fine influence all around, has sternly disciplined what hysterical tendencies she had, into subjection to her good judgment." Here, perhaps, was a backhanded resolution to the mix of components in the nervous breakdown concept: victims were rarely frauds, yet there were underlying weaknesses, and at the same these were subject to rational mastery.
will pass, if you do not yield to them." "1 should like people to take as much pride in their mental health, in keeping their heads under trying circumstances, as they do in their appearance." Many accounts of nervous breakdown, including personal testimonies, featured a sense that people could or should work problems out on their own, that this ailment was not primarily open to outside intervention.
At extremes, the nervous breakdown concept was riddled with contradictions.
The highlighting of personal resources, often independent of, even antagonistic to professional help, and the downplaying of purely external stress in favor of the issues of mental frameworks, were crucial in this composite, which increasingly moved nervous breakdown away from many other available diagnostic categories, including neurasthenia.
Nervous breakdown provided major service for at least half a century in reaching an unprecedented audience, which accepted the term, and in combining complex symptoms with several key explanations.
The idea of excessive pressure on children from extensions of schooling, for example, took root around 1900, finding expression in childrearing manuals and a longstanding campaign against homework, as well as entering into popularizations of nervous breakdown. New family pressures resulted from the rapid decline of domestic servants, which in turn underlay some of the perception--and possibly the reality--of more nervous housewives.
The nervous breakdown definitions neatly coincided with the advent of major innovations in the standards for emotion, appearance and personal function.
Nervous breakdown also arose at a time when drug use was changing rapidly, especially for middle-class women.
Finally, the early stages of the nervous breakdown concept surely captured a new ambivalence about professional help.
Nervous breakdown became a widely-used notion by which Americans explained certain symptoms or anticipatory fears to themselves and through which they sought support from family and acquaintances.
Conventional wisdom argues that the validity of nervous breakdown began to decline by the late 1960s, and indeed there were signs of major change.