Don't Expect a 20th Nervous Breakdown

Term goes the way of smelling salts as experts seek accuracy
By Greg Atwan,  Newser User
Posted Apr 15, 2008 10:11 AM CDT
Sumo wrestler Asashoryu made headlines in Japan when he was said to suffer a 'nervous breakdown' last year.   (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)
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(Newser) – “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.