Difference Between Nervous Breakdown and Mental Breakdown

Difference – Nervous Breakdown vs Mental Breakdown

Nervous breakdown, mental breakdown, emotional breakdown and midlife crisis are frequently used phrases nowadays, describing the inability of an individual to function in an optimal manner as a result of psychological stress. The world we live in is developing rapidly day by day and majority of us find it really difficult to stand in this fast moving world, which is very competitive and consists of people running a never ending rat race. The incidence of psychological issues and psychiatric illnesses is rising at a rate like never before, most likely due to the above-mentioned competitiveness where people tend to spend most of the time in their lives, worried, tensed and depressed because their targets in life are very high and sometimes very difficult to be achieved. Nervous breakdown and mental breakdown are two names used to refer to the same psychological conflict resulting from the psychological stress; there is no difference between nervous breakdown and mental breakdown. This psychological condition is often left undiagnosed or untreated due to the confusion between the true illness and inherent personality traits.

Nervous Breakdown – Causes, Signs and Symptoms, and Management

Causes of Nervous Breakdown

Medically defined as a modern health crisis, nervous breakdown takes place as a result of stress or a distressful external influence or experience such as loss of a loved one, divorce, unemployment, poverty, etc. This psychological scenario is usually associated with underlying depression or anxiety and often owns a short lasting natural history, giving out responses which will signal an individual to seek medical advice or psychological support, as soon as possible.

Signs and Symptoms of Nervous Breakdown

Signs and symptoms of nervous breakdown may vary from one person to another, depending on their personality, skills of coping up, experiences, age, etc. Most patients will experience signs of depression, anxiety, extreme mood swings, hallucinations, panic attacks, paranoia, social withdrawal and isolation and flashbacks of the traumatic events.

  • Depression – a sudden drop of individual’s mood which significantly differs from the default personality traits. He will also prefer staying alone, eat less or more than usual, shows a loss of weight, sleep disturbances (either sleep a lot or doesn’t sleep at all), suicidal thoughts, self-mutilation and lack of interest in things he used to enjoy. These kinds of signs will have to be given immediate professional care, to prevent fatal consequences.
  • Anxiety and panic attacks – extreme anxiousness following a traumatic event is highly suggestive of an emotional breakdown and affected individuals will present with high blood pressure, tensed muscles, frequent muscle cramps, trembling and shaking movements, dizziness, headaches and fainting attacks.
  • Extreme mood swings – unusual and unexplained outbursts of mood changes which might interrupt day to day activities of the individual, in a significant manner. In such scenarios, it is important to exclude psychiatric illnesses like Bipolar disorder.
  • Hallucinations – Experiencing a variety of sensory perceptions in the absence of any relevant external stimulus. These are very common in individuals with a nervous breakdown and often associated with underlying illnesses such as Schizophrenia or substance abuse.
  • Paranoia – This is a significant sign of emotional breakdown where affected individuals will fear that someone is watching and following them, with a possible drawback of difficulty in coping up.
  • Social withdrawal -Most of the individuals who have been brutally traumatised by negative life events and reached a state of nervous breakdown will prefer staying alone, avoiding any social interactions. They might just need some self-time to understand the situation they are going through and create the background to cope up with the stressful situation.

How to Manage a Nervous Breakdown

The feeling of a nervous breakdown can be really devastating and sound serious but what matters the most is to manage it effectively so that the affected individual will not develop any negative consequences towards living a peaceful life.

Identification or vaguely observing any of the signs described above, following a traumatic life event, can possibly indicate a nervous breakdown. It is highly recommended to seek professional care from a psychiatrist or psychologist to gain relevant support and medication.

Difference Between Nervous Breakdown and Mental Breakdown

What is Mental Breakdown

This is a synonym to nervous breakdown, which is used by some people since the word ‘mental’ sounds quite easy to understand and get an idea of where exactly the disturbance lies.

Difference Between Nervous Breakdown and Mental Breakdown

Both these terms refer to the same psychological disturbance and some health care professionals tend to use the later, most of the time so that it could be easily explained to patients by describing the word ‘mental’.

However, it is smart to know both the terminology, so that you would know what exactly your psychologist is referring to, may it be anywhere in the world you live in.

Image Courtesy:

“Depression” by ryan melaugh (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

About the Author: Embogama

Embogama is a passionate freelance writer for several years. Her areas of interest include general medicine, clinical medicine, health and fitness, Ayurveda medicine, psychology, counseling and piano music