Have you or someone you know ever suffered a nervous breakdown? Chances are if you’ve ever battled depression, anxiety or any other mental illness, you have.
A nervous breakdown is often characterized as an extended period of mental distress, generally resulting in the inability to function and live a normal, healthy, everyday life. The term historically has been used to describe a myriad of mental illnesses including but not limited to depression, anxiety and acute stress disorder.
Though the term, nervous breakdown, is no longer recognized in the medical community as a prolonged condition like depression or anxiety, it’s still a common occurrence in people who suffer from mental illness—particularly when an overwhelming amount of stress and symptoms erupt into what we know as a nervous breakdown.
Many psychologists describe a nervous breakdown as “the last straw.” It’s the one thing that when piled onto the mountain of stressful circumstances, a depressive episode and anxious thoughts drive you to your breaking point.
If you or someone you know suffers from a mental illness, it’s wise to know the signs of a nervous breakdown so you can recognize them and stop the emotional eruption before it happens.
Here are 8 signs of a nervous breakdown.
Wishing for the worst to happen.
It’s normal for too much stress to cause someone to crumble under the pressure. What is not healthy is when crumbling under the pressure leads to extreme thoughts. A stressful situation at work leading to thoughts of quitting your job is one thing. That same stressful situation making way for the desire to jump out your window…now that’s another. When there’s no “way out” of a circumstance, your frustration may lead you to consider and quite possibly even wish for the worst, simply to escape the unbearable stress you are carrying. That unhealthy search for an escape is often a sign of a nervous breakdown.
The absence or excess of food.
Individuals suffering from a nervous breakdown often find that food is a tell-tale symptom. For some feeling buried by the mountain of stress, it’s only natural to turn to comfort food or even binge-eat as a way to escape your problems. For others, it’s the opposite. You may completely lose your appetite, and find a way to make food the enemy you’re facing rather than it being the actual underlying issues that are bogging you down. Prolonged changes in your eating habits are tell-tale signs that there is something much deeper going on, and it’s possible that they might be giving way to a nervous breakdown.
You turn to suppressants.
For many people suffering from overwhelming anxiety, stress, depressive episodes and mental illnesses, things like drugs and alcohol are a common escape. Some find that they can only relax after they’ve had a glass of wine or suppressed the stress with medication. But these solutions are only temporary, and in turn, cause the actual problem to manifest further in the long run. It’s also extremely easy to become dependent on suppressants, which puts you at a greater health risk altogether while doing absolutely nothing to actually treat the problems you’re facing.
Your moods have a mind of their own.
It’s not uncommon to experience highs and lows throughout the week, but an individual on the brink of a nervous breakdown will typically experience extreme mood swings that are not easily regulated. Somewhere in between the really low-lows, and really high-highs, you’re likely to have unexplained outbursts and persistent feelings of frustration. If you start to notice these episodes on a regular basis, it may be a good idea to step back, lighten your load, and truly focus on your mental health.
You retreat to isolation.
Just like major depressive episodes may lead someone to withdraw from their usual social routine, those approaching a nervous breakdown will often retreat from family, friends, and co-workers only to wind up in their own self-created isolation. Pushing others away, and rejecting the support of those around you is a tell-tale sign of a nervous breakdown. In this stage, it’s critically important for your own safety that you recognize your need to be surrounded by others, and know that pulling yourself away from reality will actually hinder your mental state, not improve it.
Your mental overload is reflected in your lack of organization.
It’s totally common to have a messy pile of clothes here or a stack of paperwork there, but the more troubled your mental state is, the more it’s going to show in your surroundings. Perhaps your workspace looks like a tornado blew through it, or your sleep space is far from a relaxing retreat. Your lack of mental organization has spilled over into your physical organization, and the results can actually become triggers for a nervous breakdown.
Your physical appearance is a rollercoaster of extremes.
For some people suffering from a nervous breakdown, their physical appearance is the one thing they feel they have control over. If that’s you, it’s totally possible that you stress over your physical appearance, and are hyper-aware of the way you look on the outside, because you’re making up for the mess you’re experiencing on the inside. For others, you might retreat to the opposite extreme in which the overwhelming pressure you’re under has depleted all motivation, even when it comes to personal hygiene.
Your body is suffering.
Mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand. So it’s no surprise that when your mental health declines, your physical health often follows suit. For many people suffering a nervous breakdown, it’s common to experience high blood pressure, tension in the back, neck, and muscles, clammy hands and feet, dizziness, perpetually upset stomach, and unexplained shaking. Your mind controls your body. When your mind is out of sorts, so is your body.
Nervous breakdowns, just like any mental illness they’re rooted from, are nothing to be ashamed of. Self-sabotage is common in anyone suffering from a mental illness, but it’s important to be on the lookout for these 8 signs of a nervous breakdown so you can stop the madness before it starts.