Most of us experience stress and anxiety on a daily basis. Some of us know how to cope with it and some of us don’t. Sometimes, the levels of stress and anxiety increase to a point where it begins to impact a person’s life. This may be described as having a nervous breakdown.
Nervous breakdown is not a medical term that describes a specific condition. A nervous breakdown, also known as a mental health crisis, is a form of anxiety disorder.
An individual may experience a nervous breakdown if an event causes extreme stress, such as trauma or the death of a loved one. However, some may experience it because of the gradual build-up of everyday stress. The factors that contribute to everyday stress include pressures related to work, financial instabilities, unemployment, insecure relationships, and others.
There are many different signs that tell a person is experiencing a nervous breakdown. Some signs relate to a person’s mental state and their emotions while other signs affect their physical health. Let’s examine the emotional and physical signs of a nervous breakdown.
Signs And Symptoms Of A Nervous Breakdown
Signs Of A Nervous Breakdown
If you are having a nervous breakdown, the following signs relate to your mental state and feelings.
- Isolation: You may feel disinterested in the company of family and friends. You may also disconnect yourself from daily activities.
- Inability to concentrate: You may find it difficult to focus on a particular task, for instance, at work. You may also feel distracted easily.
- Moodiness: You may feel low or depressed. Emotional outbursts of anger, fear, and helplessness are also common.
- Emotional detachment: You may feel you are not yourself and you may detach yourself from situations.
- Hallucinations: Intense flashbacks of a stressful or traumatic event can be associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. These should be communicated with your doctor or counselor.
- Self-harm tendencies: In severe cases of a nervous breakdown, you have thoughts that involve physically harming yourself. This requires professional help immediately.
- Substance abuse: Using alcohol or drugs to cope with a difficult situation may be a sign of a nervous breakdown.
Physical Signs Of A Nervous Breakdown
If you are having a nervous breakdown, the following are the physical symptoms to look out for.
- Insomnia: If you are too stressed, you may find it difficult to sleep or you experience disturbed sleep.
- Exhaustion: Sleeplessness or disturbed sleep can cause you to feel exhausted. You may also lack energy and feel lethargic, unable to perform routine tasks.
- Frequent illnesses: Exhaustion can make you more prone to infections and other illnesses.
- Headaches: You may experience frequent headaches. At times, you may also feel dizzy.
- Muscle pain: If you are too stressed, you may have stiff and sore muscles, particularly in the jaw or back from muscle tension.
- Bowel problems: Stomach cramps and irregular bowel movements are common physical symptoms of a nervous breakdown.
- Racing heart: You may feel like your heart rate is faster than usual. You may also feel there is a lump in your throat, making it difficult to breathe.
- Sweats: You may experience hot or cold flushes with clammy hands if you have a nervous breakdown.
If you feel you’ve suffered the symptoms of a nervous breakdown, here are a few tips to follow to help you cope your situation.
Tips To Avoid A Nervous Breakdown
Talk To Someone Who Can Help
If you feel you have experienced some of the symptoms of a nervous breakdown, the first thing to do is to talk to someone about your feelings. Talking to someone who can help you like your doctor, a family member, or even a therapist. You don’t have to suffer alone. Sharing your feelings will help you lift the burden off your chest.
When you have someone to listen to you, you will feel better. A trusted family member, friend, or doctor will ensure that there is nothing to worry about.
2. Take Care Of Your Body
When you are under stress, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Excess cortisol in your blood can cause a series of problems. You may either experience unusual weight gain. There is a link between increased levels of cortisol and high-calorie intake.1 Your response to stress can affect your eating behavior.
Therefore, it is important to follow a balanced diet involving lots of fruits, vegetables, and protein. Without proper nutrition, your body will not be able to cope with the stress. Try to stay physically active. Start by taking walks around your neighborhood and slowly increasing your physical activities like going to the gym or playing your favorite sport. Expose your body to ample sunlight as vitamin D is known to stabilize your mood and improve sleep patterns.2
3. Keep Relaxation A Priority
When you’ve had a stressful day, it is always important to take time to relax your body and mind. This will allow your body to feel reenergized and your mind can focus on what is required. Regular relaxation will help you change the way you think and feel about things.
To relax your mind you can try deep breathing exercises. Soaking yourself in a warm bath and listening to your favorite music are ways by which you can relax your mind. Some people find it relaxing to keep a journal and make entries about their feelings and daily routine. Mindful meditation is also a good way to relax your mind.3
Yoga and body massages can help relax your body. You can also try progressive muscle relaxation. This process involves tensing and relaxing each muscle group. Progressive muscle relaxation can reduce anxiety and muscle tension. Having something warm to drink that does not contain alcohol or caffeine in it, such as herbal tea or warm milk, can help relax your body.4
4. Address Your Problems Correctly
When you think of your problems as one big mess, it becomes even more difficult to solve them. Ignoring your problems won’t help because then you will end up having a pile of unsolved problems. The solution is to address your problems one at a time.
It is always a good practice to take time and not hurry up. If you are going through some tough times, don’t take important decisions. It is very likely that they will not be the best decisions. Always give yourself time to cope with a stressful situation and then address each problem one at a time.
5. Think Positive
As you give time to yourself and relax your mind and body, you will also notice that your thoughts change. You will slowly begin to think positive. When you do think positive, tasks that seemed difficult in the past may seem to be much easier to handle.
You will slowly set boundaries so you don’t get worked up about small problems. You will slowly start feeling good about the person you are and it will reflect in your daily life when you meet new people. You will be able to focus on a brighter future if you think positively.
If you think you have experienced a nervous breakdown, it is okay because you are not in this alone. You don’t have to feel ashamed about going through a nervous breakdown. If you feel these tips have not helped your current situation, you should consult a doctor or a therapist for professional help.
|↑1||Epel, Elissa, Rachel Lapidus, Bruce McEwen, and Kelly Brownell. “Stress may add bite to appetite in women: a laboratory study of stress-induced cortisol and eating behavior.” Psychoneuroendocrinology 26, no. 1 (2001): 37-49.|
|↑2||Penckofer, Sue, Joanne Kouba, Mary Byrn, and Carol Estwing Ferrans. “Vitamin D and depression: where is all the sunshine?.” Issues in mental health nursing 31, no. 6 (2010): 385-393.|
|↑3||Stress Management: Relaxing Your Mind and Body. University of Michigan.|
|↑4||Stress Management: Relaxing Your Mind and Body.