What Are Symptoms of a Nervous Breakdown?
A nervous breakdown may involve both mental/emotional and physical symptoms.
Mental/emotional symptoms of a nervous breakdown may include:
- Isolation or withdrawal from family and friends or usual daily activities
- Avoiding social functions
- Calling in sick to work
- Inability to concentrate
- Mood changes
- Feeling burned out
- Emotional outbursts
- Not eating properly
- Not taking care of personal hygiene
- Depersonalization, which is not feeling like one’s normal self, or feeling detached from situations
- Thoughts of self-harm: seek immediate medical attention if this occurs
Physical symptoms of a nervous breakdown may include:
- Frequent illnesses
- Dizzy spells
- Muscle pain in the jaw, neck, or back due to muscle tension
- Stomach cramps and irregular bowel movements
- Fast heartbeat (palpitations)
- Tightness across the chest or a lump in the throat, feeling like it is difficult to breathe (panic attack)
- Cold sweats or hot flashes
What Causes a Nervous Breakdown?
A nervous breakdown may be triggered by both specific events that cause extreme stress or as a product of a gradual build-up of stress to a point where a person is no longer able to cope.
Triggers for a nervous breakdown may include:
- Death of a loved one
- Death of a pet
- Work pressures
- Relationship problems
- Financial difficulties
- Recent illness or injury
Certain factors may cause some people to be more susceptible to having a nervous breakdown, such as:
- A personal or family history of anxiety disorders
- A stressful job
- Severe medical conditions
- Lack of sleep
- Inability to manage stress effectively
How Is a Nervous Breakdown Diagnosed?
A nervous breakdown and other anxiety disorders may be diagnosed with a psychological evaluation.
What Is the Treatment for a Nervous Breakdown?
Treatment for a nervous breakdown can include lifestyle changes, medications, and counseling, depending on the patient’s situation and diagnosis.
Lifestyle changes that can help patients better cope with stress include:
- Healthy diet
- Regular exercise
- Practicing good sleep habits
- Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine
- Avoiding mood-altering substances like alcohol and other recreational drugs
- Practicing stress reduction methods such as relaxation, mediation, yoga, and breathing exercises
- Talking to a mental health counselor
In some cases, a nervous breakdown may be a sign of depression, an anxiety disorder, or other mental illness, in which case medications and therapy may be indicated. Medications may include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, or antipsychotic medications.