Nervous breakdown describes severe mental distress. Do you feel depressed or suicidal? Do you have a question related to your own or someone else's mental health? We are here to help call our free hotline and. Nervous breakdown is not a medical term — but it may indicate an underlying mental health problem that needs attention, such as anxiety or depression. A look at nervous breakdown, a condition now known as mental breakdown and identified by emotional and physical stress. Nervous breakdown is a term that is sometimes used to describe symptoms of intense mental and emotional distress. A nervous breakdown happens when stress builds up to a level that you can no longer cope with and leads to a mental health crisis.