A Moment of Science

Nervous Breakdowns

Can you really have a nervous breakdown? Find out on this Moment of Science.

room with up and down escalator

Photo: Andras Csore (Flickr)

Do you ever feel like you're having highs and lows?

How many times have you heard someone say they’re having a nervous breakdown? Well, there is no such thing, but to say the person was not having a problem is not accurate either. In this Moment of Science, we discuss a number of things a “nervous breakdown” can be.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a “nervous breakdown”. It’s an inexact and unscientific term that’s no longer used in psychiatry. Saying someone is having a nervous breakdown is similar to saying that someone has cancer without specifying what kind of cancer it is. Modern science is a lot more precise.

Someone who says that they’re having a nervous breakdown could be suffering from depression, panic attacks, schizophrenia, or a variety of stress disorders. There are many people out there who believe they’ve had a nervous breakdown. In fact, a third of surveyed Americans report that they’ve felt on the verge of a nervous breakdown at some point in their lives.

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from A Moment of Science:

Support for Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science

Search A Moment of Science