The term 'nervous breakdown' is often used colloquially to describe an individual's reaction to stressful events. Once used to refer to a wide range of mental afflictions, such as depression and anxiety, it more accurately describes an intense period of extreme mental distress. While it is not technically a medical term, it does describe a certain set of symptoms of stress. During a nervous breakdown, the individual is unable to function in their everyday life, finding even the most mundane and ordinary tasks too overwhelming to accomplish. Though the definition is not set, professionals generally believe a nervous breakdown occurs when emotional and physical stress reaches the point of being so intolerable that functionality is significantly disrupted.
Panic attacks, especially when experienced often or regularly, are one of the most obvious signs of an impending nervous breakdown. Every individual experiences nervousness or panic at various points in their lives. Stressful, daunting, or high-pressure situations elicit this natural response in the brain, causing a human being to worry about the potential consequences and outcomes.
Panic attacks, however, often arise without these stimuli. They can appear seemingly out of nowhere and have a rapid onset, with no stimulus instigating the subsequent response. During an attack, an individual can experience a sudden, rapid increase in heart rate, racing mind, and debilitating sense of worry or dread, among other physical manifestations. These incidents may last a few minutes or even longer, varying on a case-by-case basis.