A nervous breakdown refers to a severe state of mental anguish, due to which you cannot perform the tasks of daily living. It may not be able to function fully and collapse can occur alongside mental health conditions such as stress disorders, depressive disorders, or anxiety disorders.
Multiple different factors go into defining a mental breakdown, and there is no clear meaning for it. Essentially, if a severe negative physical or emotional state causes a lack of function, it can be considered a nervous breakdown. It can be scary to go through a ordeal, leaving you confused and guilty, which only makes things worse.
But how can you detect the signs that a nervous breakdown is on the horizon? What can you do to prevent or avoid it, based on these symptoms? Here’s how psychiatrists reveal 9 early signs of a nervous breakdown and how to avoid them to help you understand better.
1. Changes in sleep patterns
Your sleep pattern is often crucial to your health. When it goes out of the norm, it can increase anxiety levels, increasing sleep problems, increasing anxiety. It’s a vicious cycle that can eventually lead to a nervous breakdown.
Doctor of Psychology and Medical Psychology and Professor of Psychiatry Erin Engle notes that these changes can vary from person to person. You can:
- Start sleeping excessively as a method to avoid the problems of daily life.
- Being unable to sleep due to the accumulation of anxiety and stress from a brain that works in overdrive.
- Ending very unusual or uneven sleep-wake habits that harm you in the long run
The moment you start to notice changes in your sleep, do what you can to regulate the time you spend in bed. Maintain the same waking and sleeping hours, make sure your bedroom environment is positive for relaxation, or even take melatonin supplements to help you stick to the correct schedule.
2. Daily life feels unruly
A little stress doesn’t usually ruin the whole day. But if you are at a point where everyday life is impossible to perform and you have difficulty with basic functions, you may have a great need for rest.
Licensed clinical social worker and Newport Academy Director of Program Development, Heather Senior Monroe states that when even small daily tasks start to seem like too much, or when even simple social situations feel impossible, it is a sign of a nervous breakdown. You need to step back and take a break until life feels like something you can handle again. If possible, it may also be necessary to seek help from loved ones.
3. Inability to concentrate
When you have brief bursts of stress, you can boost your brainpower in surprising ways by getting your hormones kicking into high gear to accomplish certain tasks. These hormones help with concentration and memory.
But when stress becomes a long-term problem, it can make concentrating on anything impossible because you’re more attuned to external distractions, says the psychiatrist, physician, and neurologist. David A. Merrill, Ph.D. You could start to lose the ability to focus at work or even put yourself in danger if you lose concentration when doing something like driving.
In fact, extreme levels of stress can eventually lead to a high amount of cortisol, which is a stress hormone responsible for fight or flight. Investigation states that this can even cause memory loss. It could end up registering as traumatic to you and repressed. If you start to notice that your memory is getting bad or you are losing concentration at work, it might be time to take a breath before going into breakdown mode.
4. Fatigue is a sign of impending nervous breakdown
Fatigue is a common symptom of a nervous breakdown approach. This is even more true when you can’t identify any specific reason for fatigue. Engle states that feelings of extreme weakness are also common among those that lead to a nervous breakdown.
This fatigue can also include:
- Lack of interest in activities that you normally enjoy.
- Loss of libido or inability to act intimately
- Waking up feeling tired despite a long rest
Fatigue like this may require prolonged rest beyond just a couple of nights of sleep. You may also need to try a change of pace from your daily routine. It’s also a good idea to see a doctor if this type of fatigue lasts for a week or more, as it can indicate other health problems.
5. You have an upset stomach all the time
An occasional upset stomach isn’t necessarily a bad thing, even when it’s caused by stress. But constant discomfort in the abdomen combined with other symptoms could be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome, which studies they have found it has links to chronic stress. Symptoms of IBS include:
- Abdominal pain
the American Anxiety and Depression Association states that a large percentage of people who received treatment for irritable bowel syndrome or IBS experience some type of mental health condition. This can include depression, anxiety, or stress disorders. As such, if you have IBS, it could probably be due to a mental health problem. Seeking treatment can help calm IBS.
Shortness of breath may seem like a serious health concern, and it’s still something worth checking out. But keep in mind that it can also just be a classic symptom of anxiety. If you have trouble breathing in and out during times of stress, you are experiencing normal anxiety symptoms that could indicate a nervous breakdown waiting to occur.
The body’s natural stress response causes rapid, shallow breathing when anxious to help deliver oxygen more quickly throughout the body. When necessary, this helps the body kick into overdrive. When not needed, it can cause unnecessary distress.
Learn to use breathing exercises to keep calm when you notice these breathing problems. Learning to regulate your breathing can also help you manage stress, so it’s okay to give it a try. However, if breathing difficulties occur very frequently, it is a good idea to try to address the possible root of the problem, as it could be a sign of something more physically damaging.
7. Your appetite has changed
When you’re under stress, the body’s neurotransmitters trigger a fight or flight instinct, which involves a rush of adrenaline through the body. However, when that adrenaline kicks in, the body has lost a lot of energy, triggering changes in appetite that seek to refuel, says Merrill.
But the appetite doesn’t just change in one way. You may be affected in many different ways, Engle says. Here are some examples of the ways your appetite may have changed:
- Lack of appetite
- Excessive appetite
- Consuming junk food excessively
- Lack of proper food preparation.
- Strange meal hours
These changes in appetite it can point to chronic stress, which can then lead to a nervous breakdown. If you are having difficulty maintaining a positive eating schedule, sticking to a meal schedule can help. That way, you can focus on eating at set times instead of realizing that you haven’t eaten all day or eaten too often.
If you tend to eat unhealthy snacks, try to choose foods that help reduce stress. Unhealthy foods can make stress hormone production even worse, so you don’t want to give in to those cravings. Here are some foods that help manage stress:
- Sunflower seeds
- Green Tea
- Dark chocolate
8. You retire
Being around the people you care about and care about is extremely crucial to maintaining positive mental health. Unfortunately, those who are on the verge of a nervous breakdown may instinctively begin to withdraw from social situations. They may feel unmotivated by outings and disinterested in any interaction.
Not sure if you are withdrawing or just being your introverted self? Symptoms of social isolation include:
- Isolate yourself at home and lock yourself away from the world
- Calling continuously to report sick for work or simply no-show.
- Avoid any social functions and cancel the ones you accept
- Maintaining poor hygiene because you know that no one will see you.
How can you combat this? Unfortunately, the only real way to get over this is to force yourself out anyway. If possible, try to corner a trusted friend or family member to help you. Sometimes being around positive people will make you realize that you enjoy social outings. Other things, the support you get from the people around you, will boost your mood and reduce the risk of a nervous breakdown.
9. You experience feelings of dread
Do you find yourself experiencing strange feelings of worry, even when you can’t pinpoint a cause? This can result from overwhelming stress bubbling below the surface, ready to lunge forward into a meltdown. This is common because stress can cause typical anxieties to escalate disproportionately, Merrill says.
You may also notice that small things are perceived as extremely negative by you, even when that is not reasonable for you to think. It can be confusing and lead to feelings of general lack of control and hopelessness.
This type of anxiety is often deeply ingrained and must be addressed at its core. Professional help is recommended, but if you need some personal home remedies, here are some ideas:
- Drink chamomile tea, which has been found to enhance relaxation and positive thinking
- Try bathing in Epsom salts to enjoy some of magnesium’s stress-relieving properties, as you find them studies
- Step out into the morning sun to enjoy research-proven stress reduction and others positive health benefits.
Nobody wants to have a nervous breakdown, so you need to catch the signs of one before it happens. This will allow you to take steps to avoid breakdown, avoiding a lot of pain and difficulty for you later on. If you need help, contact a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, or similar mental health professional. A little guidance can help point you in the right direction, when it comes to management!