Understanding a Nervous Breakdown
Wed, April 21, 2021

Understanding a Nervous Breakdown

A nervous breakdown usually happens when stress builds up to a level that an individual can no longer cope with, leading to a mental health crisis / Photo by: fizkes via Shutterstock

 

Have you ever felt so fed up with your life that all you wanted to do was cry? Or have you ever felt so exhausted both physically and emotionally, you ended up crying or having a nervous breakdown? You are not alone. Many people experience this every day of their lives. 

A nervous breakdown usually happens when stress builds up to a level that an individual can no longer cope with, leading to a mental health crisis. A 2010 study revealed that 26% of its respondents reported suffering from an “impending nervous breakdown.” This figure is higher than the 19% of respondents who said the same in 1957. Most of the time, nervous breakdowns are caused by stress and an inability to cope with stress. However, many people who have suffered from a nervous breakdown had an underlying mental illness that contributed to it. 

While any mental health condition could contribute to a crisis, the most common ones are anxiety disorders and depression. Most of the time, a nervous breakdown can affect an individual so much that they are left unable to function normally, go to work or school, get up from bed, or do any usual activities. 

Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist and author, stated that nervous breakdown “was a term used decades ago to describe any number of feelings of being extremely overwhelmed with symptoms ranging from depression to anxiety to psychosis such that behaviorally your functioning was seriously impaired."

According to VeryWell Mind, a trusted and compassionate online resource for mental health, Dr. Nwayieze Chisara Ndukwe, Psychiatry Fellow at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, stated that the term gained popularity in the early 20th century. It was used to describe a major personal crisis of almost any kind.

Causes and Symptoms of a Nervous Breakdown

The reasons for a nervous breakdown depend on each person. If you are experiencing the signs of a breakdown, you may be afraid to discuss what is happening. It’s normal. Sometimes, people may find themselves hesitant to reach out to a close friend or family member. 

There are several factors that can trigger a nervous breakdown. Some instances of stress and situations that may lead to a nervous breakdown include a traumatic experience, the loss of a job or some form of financial hardship, a death in the family, a divorce or loss of children in a custody trial, taking on too many responsibilities, stressful and overwhelming family duties, academic pressure and responsibilities, feeling pressure and stress at work, lack of motivation and interest in things, unexplained general aches and pains, suicidal thoughts or thinking about harming oneself, and more. 

According to Bridges to Recovery, a licensed residential mental health care program devoted to world-class care, these causes are accompanied by symptoms like feeling overwhelmed, shutting down and being unable to participate in normal activities, experiencing extreme mood swings, changes in sleeping habits, and extreme fatigue and lethargy or apathy. People suffering from a nervous breakdown also experience a hard time thinking, concentrating, making decisions or getting tasks done. They often miss work, school, appointments, and other responsibilities. 

The reasons for a nervous breakdown depend on each person. If you are experiencing the signs of a breakdown, you may be afraid to discuss what is happening / Photo by: fizkes via Shutterstock

 

However, it should be noted that not everyone will have a nervous breakdown although they experience high levels of stress. There’s a chance that they will suffer from it too when they are unable to cope with stress anymore. Also, it is important to remember that even people who are generally good at coping with stress can reach a breaking point. 

Previous research revealed that work stress is a common trigger for nervous breakdowns, and this is called burnout syndrome. Burnout syndrome is characterized by a reduced performance at work, exhaustion and fatigue, feeling depersonalized or detached from work, and other symptoms of a nervous breakdown.

Treatment for a Nervous Breakdown

When you have experienced a nervous breakdown, it’s important to seek professional help. Psychiatrists can help you determine the best coping mechanisms that are healthy for you. According to Medical News Today, a web-based outlet for medical news targeted at both physicians and the general public, some common treatment and prevention strategies include trying to reduce or resolve sources of stress, doing exercises to support mental and physical relaxation, talking with loved ones, and creating a distraction-free sleeping environment. 

While therapists and other mental health professionals can help you with strategies to cover, it’s important that you know what can help you. One thing that many people neglect and forget is self-care, which is necessary for your growth. Self-care can mean different things to different people. According to Healthline, an American website and provider of health information, this could mean avoiding drugs, alcohol, caffeine, and other substances that create stress on the body; attending counseling sessions to manage stress; going out with friends; contemplating life, and many more. 

What’s important is that people learn how to manage and cope with a nervous breakdown. While it can seem hard to survive, people should remember that with the proper mindset and healthy coping mechanisms, life will get better.

When you have experienced a nervous breakdown, it’s important to seek professional help. Psychiatrists can help you determine the best coping mechanisms that are healthy for you / Photo by: Image Point Fr via Shutterstock