A mental breakdown is an immediate health crisis that presents as a sudden onset of severe depression and anxiety.  It is characterized by symptoms of a limited psychiatric disorder that presents 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.  Many stressors can bring about this psychiatric burnout.  Relationship issues that lead to separation and divorce can be an underlying cause of such stressors.  They may include: sleep deprivation, overwork, financial burden, family turmoil, housing issues, heartbreak, mental exhaustion, changes in your life & health problems.  It shares many of the same symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  

Symptoms of a mental breakdown include:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • 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
  • Neglecting personal hygiene or appearance

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

Managing the symptoms of a breakdown:

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

  • Consult with a physician immediately to make sure your symptoms are not due to another illness or condition
  • Upon diagnosis discuss the options for medications that may help with your anxiety or depression
  • Discuss whether your family doctor would recommend a psychiatrist if your case is severe and possibly due to another underlying mental illness 
  • 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 mediation
  • 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 begin to feel your problems quickly overwhelm you.  Before you can head-off such problems you may experience an acute mental breakdown.

Regardless what stage of the breakdown you are in, you should immediately seek help from a physician along with other alternative healthcare providers.  Medical doctors and therapists can help you manage your stress, deal with post traumatic stress and get you on your way to a healthier lifestyle.  Soon you will find ways to manage your situation and effectively cope with unexpected issues as they develop.



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