A mental breakdown is an immediate health crisis that starts with a sudden onset of severe depression and anxiety.  It is characterized by symptoms of a limited psychiatric disorder that occurs in a formerly functional individual. 

Individuals suffering from a mental breakdown (also referred to as a nervous breakdown) are no longer able to function on a day-to-day basis. 

Certain stressors can bring about this psychiatric burnout.  Relationship issues, such as those that lead to separation and divorce are among numerous life events that can lead to these stressors listed below,

  • Sleep Deprivation
  • Overwork
  • Poor Eating Habits
  • Financial Burden
  • Family Turmoil
  • Housing Changes
  • Heartbreak
  • Mental Exhaustion
  • Life Changes 
  • Health Problems

A mental breakdown shares many of the same symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  

Take some time to run through the fast facts below for symptoms and behaviors of those suffering from a mental breakdown. Also find ways to prevent it and learn what to do if you suspect you are at risk or currently experiencing a breakdown.

Symptoms of a mental breakdown include:

  • Sleep Disturbances and/or Poor Quality of Sleep
  • Thoughts of Suicide
  • Loss of Hope
  • Mood Swings
  • Hallucinations
  • Flashbacks of Previous Traumatic Experiences
  • Increased Anxiety, Social Fears, Dizziness
  • Changes in Overall Health and Weight Changes
  • Increased Blood Pressure and Muscle Tension
  • Paranoia

Behaviors of those suffering from a mental breakdown include:

  • Distancing from Friends and Family
  • Poor Eating Habits
  • Bad sleeping routine
  • Avoidance of get Togethers, Parties or Social Gatherings
  • Calling off from Work
  • Isolating Behavior
  • Sudden Outbursts or Violent Behavior
  • Neglecting Personal Hygiene or Appearance
  • Threats about Harming Oneself or Others

Ways to prevent a breakdown include:

  • Exercise and Physical Activity that Range from Aerobic Activity to Casual Exercise such as Walking
  • Stress Reduction Therapy such as Counseling, Yoga or Group Therapy
  • Reduced use of Caffeine, Alcohol or Nicotine and Discontinue use of Street Drugs 
  • Enough Sleep to Feel Well Rested (usually 6-9 hours per night)
  • Stress Management Techniques such as: Taking Breaks, Meditation, Organization, Self-Care
  • Learning to Ask for Help

Action to take when suffering a breakdown:

Upon recognizing you have the symptoms of a breakdown you should:

  • Consult a medical physician immediately for medical diagnosis, testing and possible referrals to other mental wellness professionals.
  • Discuss with your physician any concerns you may have that your current symptoms are related to another underlying illness or condition (medical, psychological or otherwise).
  • Upon diagnosis discuss the options for medications that may help with your symptoms of anxiety or depression.
  • Seek cognitive or talk therapy with a counselor, psychologist or therapist.
  • Use alternative methods of stress reduction therapy such as yoga, massage therapy, acupuncture or mindful meditation.
  • Get some rest and learn ways to practice a good sleep-inducing routine such as reading, removing televisions and electronics from your room, taking a warm shower or meditating.


Sometimes life gets chaotic, and it quickly becomes unmanageable.  Despite your normal ability to manage everyday stressors, you may suddenly become overwhelmed, feel hopeless and possibly panicked.  Before you can head-off such problems you may be at risk for an acute mental breakdown.

Remember, if you or someone who cares about you suspects you are at risk or suffering from a mental breakdown, immediately seek help from a medical physician along with other alternative healthcare providers regardless of what stage of the breakdown you are currently suffering.  Medical doctors and therapists can help with immediate symptoms and help you develop a long-term management plan to decrease stress and effectively cope with unexpected issues as they develop.



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