Mental health researchers have identified the nervous breakdown as a condition that closely resembles an adjustment disorder, with combined feelings of anxiety and a depressed mood. Genetic factors, life experiences, and an overall decline in functioning contribute to a nervous breakdown. However, the medical consensus is that a nervous breakdown is distinctly different than a diagnosed mental illness, although the condition may share symptoms with some serious mental illnesses.
In the 1800s, it was common practice for doctors to commit persons with mental illnesses to mental asylums. The term "nervous breakdown" emerged as a diagnosis in the 1900s, with physicians using the term to describe a wide variety of nervous disorders. Some may have used nervous breakdowns as an alternative diagnosis to prevent patients from being committed to an asylum. Physicians viewed a nervous breakdown as a temporary nervous issue. They believed that accumulation of stressors or a severe crisis triggered the condition. Medical professionals no longer use the term “nervous breakdown” as a valid diagnosis.
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