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.