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Mental breakdown (also known as nervous breakdown) is a non-medical term used to describe a sudden, acute attack of mental illness such as depression or anxiety. When used in common social discourse, the term often has pejorative connotations.
Specific cases are usually described as a "breakdown" only after a person becomes unable to function in day-to-day life due to mental illness. At that point the person's condition is advanced, and seeking professional aid is likely advisable.
Like the term “sanity,” the terms "nervous breakdown" or "mental breakdown" have no medical definition and are not used in a clinical sense. However, the medical or personal problems precipitating a sudden breakdown may well benefit from professional medical or psychological treatment.
A mental breakdown is not the same as a panic attack, though mental breakdowns can trigger panic.
Causes of breakdown might include:
- chronic and unresolved grief
- academic problems
- career burnout
- social stress
- chronic insomnia and other sleep disorders
- serious or chronic illness of a family member
- death of a family member
- deception by a loved one
The sudden, accute onset of the following mental illnesses might be classified as breakdowns:
- clinical depression
- bipolar disorder
- Dissociation (psychology)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- severe stress
- yi:נערווען בראך
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