Nervous breakdowns and exhaustion

I’ve seen these phrases used many times to explain why people have been hospitalized, but I don’t believe that either of these are actual medical conditions.

Are they euphemisms for certain mental illnesses, like depression or bipolar disorder? Or is just a term that is used when there is no particular disease to desribe?

The Encyclopedia Americana says it is a non-medical term for a variety of conditions that cause a decreased ability to function, such as depression or anxiety. An similar but earlier catch-all term was “neurasthenia”, but I think the symptoms of neurasthenia were milder.

I don’t know about exhaustion, but “nervous breakdown” is a pop psychology term that’s used to indicate any kind of incapacitating mental disorder that requires hospitalization. The term is rarely used by mental health professionals because it’s too general and offers no information about the nature of the illness.

My SO, who is a psychotherapist, really hates when people use these terms. People may be overwhelmed for a variety of reasons and, as was pointed out in the above post, “fail to function.” She says the terms are meaningless.

As someone who has had to be hospitalized for depression I can tell you that it isn’t any fun, no matter what you call it.

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

The basketball coach at the University of Rhode Island has been hospitalized for “exhaustion”. This came a day after he announced that we was going to quit/be fired at the end of the year.

Nervous breakdown is a very old fasioned term. It was used a long time ago to indicated that a person needed help because his nerves were shot. You see a not so long time ago it was taboo to see a shrink. You were crazy period. But people with a nervous breakdown or disorder were actually physically sick so they weren’t crazy. See how nice that works out.