The phrase “nervous breakdown” is commonly used to describe periods of extreme stress. Although mental health professionals have stopped using the term for several years, most people still use it to represent a wide range of psychological issues that are so overwhelming or symptomatic that they seriously hinder the individual’s ability to carry out daily life activities. Anyone, including people with no history of mental illness, can experience a nervous breakdown. However, those with a history of mental illness may be more vulnerable. As a result, it is critical to recognize the common symptoms of a nervous breakdown and possible treatments.
Understanding Nervous Breakdowns
A nervous breakdown, also known as a mental breakdown, isn’t a medical term or a clinical diagnosis of a specific mental health disorder. Rather, it describes immense stress and the inability to cope with life’s challenges. A nervous breakdown is not a healthy reaction to stress. In reality, it may indicate underlying or undiagnosed psychiatric disorders such as depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, substance use disorders, or co-occurring disorders.
Common Symptoms of a Nervous Breakdown
Symptoms of a mental breakdown can vary from person to person. The underlying cause can also influence the nature of your symptoms, manifesting as physical, psychological, or behavioral symptoms.
Nervous breakdown symptoms include:
- Extreme mood swings
- Emotional outbursts
- Difficulty concentrating
- Extreme fatigue
- Low self-esteem
- Feeling anxious, depressed, or irritable.
- Panic attacks
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms
- Suicidal ideation and behaviors
- Thoughts of self-harm
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Insomnia or poor sleep
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained body aches and pains
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Avoiding social situations
- Neglecting personal hygiene
- Frequently missing appointments and calling in sick for work.
If you’re experiencing a nervous breakdown, believe you may harm yourself, or are contemplating suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or connect to the Lifeline by dialing 988. The new three-digit dialing code, 988, will direct calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Beginning July 16, 2022, this dialing code will be available to everyone in the United States. Even after 988 is deployed nationally, the present Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) will remain available to those in mental distress or suicidal crisis.
Individuals experiencing a mental breakdown may also abuse alcohol or drugs to cope with persistent stress. However, self-medication with drugs or alcohol results in negative side effects and, in the long run, frequently exacerbates the problems they initially helped to alleviate.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with a mental health disorder, substance use disorder, or co-occurring disorder, Futures Recovery Healthcare is here for you. Futures Recovery Healthcare has a dedicated mental health treatment program and substance abuse treatment program that can assist you in receiving the care you need.
Causes, Triggers, and Risk Factors
The following are some of the potential causes and triggers of a nervous breakdown:
- Recent injury or illness that makes daily life difficult to manage
- A traumatic event, such as a death in the family
- Persistent stress at work or school
- Lack of social support
- Social and political unrest
- Natural disasters such as wildfire, floods, and COVID-19
- Relationship changes, such as a divorce
- Exposure to violence, abuse, discrimination, or mass shooting
- Serious financial issues, such as foreclosure or job loss
- Major life change, such as a relocation
- Poor sleep habits
- Planning an important event such as a wedding, graduation, or vacation
- Experiencing parental burnout
- Family or personal history of anxiety disorders
- chronic medical conditions
Consult your primary care provider if you are experiencing a nervous breakdown. They can direct you to a mental health professional who can evaluate your symptoms and discuss treatment options with you.
Nervous Breakdown Treatment
After being examined by a mental health professional, you can work with a psychiatrist or therapist to develop a treatment plan to help you cope with stress and avoid future crises. You may also want to consider a short stay in a residential treatment facility, depending on the severity of your condition. Residential care can help you focus solely on your health and wellness without the distractions of daily life.
Your treatment will vary depending on your symptoms and the underlying causes of your stress. Fortunately, there are several effective treatment options for a mental breakdown, including:
- Psychotherapy – Talk therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), is the primary treatment for psychological or emotional stress. CBT is a popular form of psychotherapy beneficial in treating anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. It involves identifying and changing irrational thought patterns based on emotional beliefs and learning coping skills to manage challenging situations.
- Medication – In addition to psychotherapy, your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to aid in the management of your mental health crisis or a diagnosed mental health condition.
- Support groups – Participating in support or self-help groups can provide individuals undergoing a mental breakdown with numerous benefits by bringing together individuals who are experiencing or have experienced similar situations.
- Lifestyle changes – Making healthy lifestyle changes can aid in the prevention of future nervous breakdowns.
Tips for Self-Care
Changing your lifestyle and taking better care of yourself can help you avoid or minimize the intensity and frequency of a nervous breakdown. Here are some self-care tips to assist you in enhancing your physical and mental health:
- Get regular exercise at least three times a week.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Consulting a mental health professional or attending regular counseling sessions to manage stress.
- Setting realistic goals and only taking on what you can handle.
- Avoid drugs, alcohol, caffeine, and other substances that stress the body.
- Sleeping for at least 7 hours per night.
- Incorporating relaxation techniques and activities like deep breathing and meditation into your daily routine.
- Reduce stress levels by pacing yourself, taking mini-breaks, and organizing your daily activities.
Although these changes can be made on your own, working with a healthcare practitioner to develop a treatment plan that best meets your healthcare needs may be more beneficial.
It’s important to remember that nervous breakdowns are temporary conditions. You can overcome and lead a healthier, stress-free life with the right treatment. Futures Recovery Healthcare works tirelessly to assist individuals and families in obtaining treatment and support for various mental health disorders, substance use disorders, and co-occurring disorders in a judgment-free environment. To learn more about our services, contact us online or call 866-804-2098.