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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mental breakdown (also known as nervous breakdown or snapping) is a non-medical term used to describe an acute, time-limited phase of a specific disorder that presents primarily with features of depression or anxiety.[1]



The terms "nervous breakdown" and "mental breakdown" have not been formally defined through a diagnostic system such as the DSM-IV or ICD-9, and are nearly absent from current scientific literature regarding mental illness.[1][2] Although "nervous breakdown" does not necessarily have a rigorous or static definition, surveys of laypersons suggest that the term refers to a specific acute time-limited reactive disorder, involving symptoms such as anxiety or depression, usually precipitated by external stressors.[1] [3]The referenced condition may or may not involve psychotic symptoms such as those associated with schizophrenia.[4]

Specific cases are sometimes described as a "breakdown" only after a person becomes unable to function in day-to-day life due to difficulties adapting.[5] Seeking professional aid may be helpful in these situations.

Causes of such breakdowns are varied. The most frequently cited cause cited in a 1996 U.S. study was relationship problems -- with divorce, marital strain, marital separation, and other relationship problems contributing to 24% of nervous breakdowns.[6] Problems at work and school accounted for 17% of cases, and financial problems for 11%. Surveys suggest that in the United States health problems have decreased in importance as a contributor to nervous breakdowns, as these accounted for 28% of nervous breakdowns in 1957, 12% in 1976, and only 5.6% in 1996.[6]

Similar disorders

The closest DSM-IV diagnostic category to nervous breakdown is Adjustment Disorder with Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood (Acute).[1] Adjustment disorders and nervous breakdowns are both acute reactions to stress that resolve after removal of the stressor. However, DSM-IV excludes from adjustment disorders cases secondary to bereavement, which contributes to approximately 6-8% of nervous breakdowns.[1]

Nervous breakdown shares some features of acute stress disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder, in that these each occur in response to an external stressor, and may be marked with sleep disturbance, diminished concentration, and mood lability. However, the symptoms of nervous breakdown do not include the constellation of reexperienced trauma, dissociation, avoidance, and numbing of general responsiveness that are associated with the other two disorders, and the types of stressors linked to a nervous breakdown are generally less extreme.[1]

Nervous breakdown also shares many features of mixed anxiety depressive disorder (MADD). However, the definition of MADD suggests a chronic condition, in contrast to the acute, short-term nature of a nervous breakdown.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Rapport LJ, Todd RM, Lumley MA, Fisicaro SA. 'The diagnostic meaning of "nervous breakdown" among lay populations.' J Pers Assess. 1998 Oct;71(2):242-52.
  2. ^ Mayo Clinic Mental Breakdown
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Hallowell, Edward M & John Ratey. 2005. Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder. Ballentine Books. ISBN 0345442318
  6. ^ a b Swindle R Jr, Heller K, Pescosolido B, Kikuzawa S. "Responses to nervous breakdowns in America over a 40-year period. Mental health policy implications" Am Psychol. 2000 Jul;55(7):740-9.

This article refers to a music recording. For the more general use of this term, see mental breakdown.
Nervous Breakdown
EP by Black Flag
Released October 1978
Recorded Media Art Studios, January 1978
Genre Hardcore punk
Length 5:13
Label SST
Producer David Tarling & Black Flag
Professional reviews
Black Flag chronology
Nervous Breakdown
(7" EP)
Jealous Again
(12" EP)

Nervous Breakdown was the first 7" EP by the American hardcore punk band Black Flag. It was released in 1978 and was the inaugural release on SST Records.


Recording history

The recording was financed by Greg Ginn with proceeds he had earned from his mail-order ham radio electronics business, Solid State Tuners (SST)[1]. Through Spot, then an apprentice engineer whom Ginn had already known from living in Hermosa Beach, California, the band found Media Art, a studio that had recently completed construction.[2]

The recording was originally supposed to come out on Bomp! Records, but the band felt that the label was taking too long to put the record out. Eventually the band took the master rights back, and Ginn put some more earnings from his ham radio business, located a pressing plant in the phone book, and co-founded SST Records with Black Flag bassist Chuck Dukowski, borrowing the label's name from his business.[1]

It is commonly misconstrued that Spot was the producer and engineer of record for Nervous Breakdown. In his sleeve notes for the 1982 outtakes anthology Everything Went Black, Spot pointed out that as an apprentice engineer, his involvement in the sessions was limited to setting up microphones during the tracking sessions, and doing rough mixes for the band to hear.[2]

The initial pressing of Nervous Breakdown was 300 copies. Black Flag were able to use the record as "a badge of legitimacy" (according to Dukowski) to begin getting live gigs in the Los Angeles area.[2]

The Band Rise Against have covered "Nervous Breakdown" and "Fix Me" on the This Is Noise EP.

Seattle grunge band Mudhoney has recorded a cover of "Fix Me" which appears on Disc 2 - Rarities on their compilation album March to Fuzz.

British hardcore-punk band Gallows also recorded a cover of "Nervous Breakdown" and it appears as a B-side on their abandon ship single.

Release History

The EP is still in print both in its original form (a 7" vinyl EP), as a 5" CD single, and as part of the anthology The First Four Years. It was also available at times as a 3" CD single, a 10" colored vinyl EP, and as part of the various artists compilation of SST singles, The 7 Inch Wonders Of The World.

Track listing

All songs written by Greg Ginn, except where noted.

  1. "Nervous Breakdown" – 2:07
  2. "Fix Me" – 0:55
  3. "I've Had It" – 1:20
  4. "Wasted" (Ginn/Morris) – 0:51


Note: On the original pressing, Chuck is credited under his real name and ROBO is credited as the drummer.

References and footnotes

  1. ^ a b Michael Azzerad, Our Band Could Be Your Life, Little Brown, 2001
  2. ^ a b c Spot with Chuck Dukowski, Liner notes of Everything Went Black, SST Records, 1983

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