I'm writing about mental health counselling and how centres are often fully booked. I then say: "I'm sure many others have the same story, and crises that deserve immediate attention are left to -- "

What's the word I'm looking for? It's like exacerbate, but reflexive. The problem is being exacerbated, but I don't want to use passive voice. Most words in English that are synonymous with "worsen" imply getting weaker or smaller, but I want to say that the crisis grows stronger (yet worse at the same time).

  • Hi, and welcome to Writers. Requests for single-word definitions are off-topic for us but acceptable on English SE if properly formatted. I've asked the mods to migrate your question there.
    – Lauren Ipsum
    May 17, 2017 at 16:15
  • 3
    Fester (become worse or more intense, especially through long-term neglect or indifference) is used in similar circumstances, but might not be appropriate depending on the context since its strongly associated with infections.
    – Snagulus
    May 17, 2017 at 18:41

4 Answers 4


I think the word you're looking for is deteriorated

  • However, I fear you suffer the narrow view of most novelists obsessed with language.
    – Surtsey
    May 17, 2017 at 16:49
  • 2
    you suffer the narrow view of most novelists obsessed with language sounds opinionated and bordering rude. Care to explain to the poor obsessed novelist what you mean?
    – Lew
    May 17, 2017 at 18:25

atrophy - a wasting away or progressive decline

degenerate - having sunk to a condition below that which is normal to a type

Both taken from merriam-webster.com


Perhaps you could refer to the effect of the crisis with the deterioration "plummeting, crashing,

the crisis plummets ... our counselling system into ...
the crisis crashes ... against a strained capacity to respond to a skyrocketing client base / work load.

  • Hello, Mints, and welcome to English Language and Usage. If you are going to be posting here with any regularity, please take a moment to vist our help page on "How to write a good answer" We are looking for answers that provide sources to support explanations, as well as context and links. May 20, 2017 at 16:30

Surely the word you need is magnify, isn't it? - "...problems are left to magnify".

  • Mental health counselling [and how] centres are often fully booked. I don't know the statistics on how often immediate attention is important in outcomes. In some situations it could well be crucial, in counteracting an overdose or alleviating a epileptic seizure. Whether a time to cool down before being offered or asking for treatment is essential is another matter. A facility ought to try to triage--rank the importance of immediate care given its resources. Some problems may magnify; for others time may begin to alleviate the worse.
    – Xanne
    May 21, 2017 at 9:59
  • "...problems are left to resolve themselves "?
    – WS2
    May 21, 2017 at 10:31
  • Surely I didn't say that.
    – Xanne
    May 21, 2017 at 10:38

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