Nervous Breakdown: Causes and Signs

The term 'nervous breakdown' is used to refer to a severe mental illness, characterized by the disruption of mental and emotional stability of an individual. This condition can impair the normal activity of an individual, and therefore needs immediate attention.
PsycholoGenie Staff
Last Updated: Mar 22, 2018
Mind Over Moolah!
Stress is the major culprit of inducing a nervous breakdown. A factor that aces in triggering stress leading to a nervous breakdown is money, says a 2009 CNN poll. The countries that feature high on the stress spectrum are Malaysia, China, Singapore, and the United States; whereas, the countries that reflect a lower degree of stress are Russia, France, and Italy.

A nervous breakdown is commonly known as mental breakdown; however, both of them are not medical terms, and also do not refer to any specific mental illness. It is often used in the context of severe depression and anxiety, that can lead to an emotional and psychological collapse. However, a certain level of anxiety and stress is felt by almost everyone when faced with any work-related or personal problem, although our body can usually cope with such kinds of mental stress and anxiety. In certain instances, extreme stress and anxiety can overwhelm a person, and he or she may not be able to overcome the situation. This can disrupt mental and emotional stability, leading to a nervous breakdown.

Factors Leading to a Nervous Breakdown

There can be several causes for this condition, and they can differ from person to person. One of the major causes of nervous breakdown is stress. Stress to uplift your performance in a particular field only leads to positive appreciation. However, when stress transcends these boundaries of positivity, thereby inflicting deuced trauma, is when the symptoms of a mental burnout seep in. There are several degrees of stress; however, this write-up focuses on life instances that border on stimulating a nervous breakdown. A few major life-changing events that have been found to be the popular cause of a breakdown are:

❒ Death of a spouse
❒ Marital separation
❒ Divorce
❒ Imprisonment
❒ Demise of a close family member
❒ Marital reconciliation
❒ Dismissal from work
❒ Infidelity
❒ Bankruptcy

Signs to Identify a Nervous Breakdown

An individual can either experience several symptoms together or any one symptom in an exaggerated form. This is because the symptoms of a mental breakdown depend on the history of mental disorders and the mental stability of that particular person. A nervous breakdown can be classified into three categories: (1) Physical signs, (2) Mental symptoms, and (3) Emotional troubles.

Physical Signs - the ones that make you feel that you are seriously ill

▶ Sweaty palms
▶ Extreme fatigue
▶ Trembling
▶ Wooziness/dizziness
▶ Strained muscles
▶ Inflamed skin
▶ Persistent gastrointestinal problems
▶ Stomach and bowel issues (difficulty in digestion)
▶ Atypical heartbeat (you can feel your heart throbbing)

Mental Symptoms - the ones that make you feel that you might be going crazy

▶ Insomnia (trouble sleeping, waking up frequently with racing thoughts)
▶ Signs of depression (self-mutilation, suicidal thoughts)
▶ Sexual problems (loss of libido, impotency)
▶ Bipolar disorder (extreme mood swings)
▶ Hallucinations (psychotic belief)
▶ Paranoia (feeling of being constantly watched)
▶ Alienation (estrangement)
▶ Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (flashback of painful events)
▶ Loss of interest (fulminant detachment)
▶ Signs of anxiety (high blood pressure)
▶ Difficulty in concentrating (disoriented focus)
▶ Amnesia (memory loss, confusion)

Emotional Troubles - the ones that stop you from recognizing yourself

▶ Weeping and yelling unexpectedly and uncontrollably
▶ Feeling of being resilient
▶ Worrying and bothering about everything and everyone
▶ Unusually quiet
▶ Aggressive and violent behavior
▶ Irritation
▶ Low self-esteem
▶ Emotional outburst

As far as social behavior is concerned, a person may exhibit antisocial behavior like vandalism, alcohol or drug abuse, and gambling. Out of these, drug abuse can be considered as a significant sign. A change in social behavior can also be observed among people who are on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Such behavior includes the inability to initiate social interaction, loss of interest in social activities, and developing an introvert behavioral pattern, which can eventually lead to isolation.

Few Lifestyle Modifications and Treatment Options

❒ Include relaxation techniques, like meditation and yoga
❒ Avoid caffeine from your diet to lessen the severity of the breakdown
❒ Practice scheduled sleeping
❒ Antianxiety medications or antidepressants (only if your physician prescribes)
❒ Consult and talk to your therapist
❒ Regular physical exercise
❒ Massage therapy
❒ Acupuncture

A nervous breakdown is often diagnosed by physicians after excluding all the possible medical conditions that can give rise to these signs and symptoms. However, methods of treating this condition can vary significantly from person to person. Besides proper treatment, a healthy and nutritious diet can be beneficial in strengthening the body and the mind to cope with mental stress and anxiety.

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.