"It all turned into a nightmare," Dylan told The Sunday Telegraph, referring to his inability to escape ravenous fans.
Dylan recalled moving to rural New York state in search of solitude, only to be followed en masse by his fans. He said fears of a crazed fan attacking him or his family led him to keep several guns in his house, and completely stifled his creative process.
"In the early years everything had been like a magic carpet ride for me, and then all at once it was over," Dylan was quoted as telling the paper. "Here was this thing I'd wanted to do all my life, but suddenly I didn't feel I could do it anymore."
Asked whether he came close to a nervous breakdown, Dylan replied: "I guess I did."
The weight of expectations also contributed to his distress, Dylan said. He noted his distaste for the "spokesman of his generation" label often attached to him by critics.
"Not only did I not want it, but I didn't need it," Dylan said. "I couldn't understand it, either. I wasn't the toastmaster of any generation, and that notion has to be pulled up by the roots."
Dylan spoke to The Sunday Telegraph from his home in Minnesota, where he's working on the second volume of his autobiography. The first volume, "Chronicles: Volume One," goes on sale in Britain Oct. 12.