“Nervous breakdown” has long been a catchall for psychological conditions as varied as depression and schizophrenia. But as psychiatric patients emerge from stigmatized isolation—and as the DSM fattens—scientists are chucking the antiquated term in favor of a more descriptive and accurate taxonomy. “I haven’t heard that term in years,” one expert tells MSNBC.
Weary celebrities like Judy Garland and Zelda Fitzgerald brought the nebulous phrase into the vernacular, but now that bipolar disorder, OCD, and psychotic episodes are household words, the phenomenon of a broken-down patient retreating to solitude is also disappearing. “The major emphasis now with the mentally ill is on recovery,” a researcher says.