7 Signs Of A Nervous Breakdown To Never Ignore
When stress overwhelms you and you’re no longer able to function in your daily life, you’ve had a nervous breakdown. This term doesn’t refer to a specific mental illness or medical issue, but it does suggest that you’ve reached your limit (whether through emotional stress, physical stress, or a combination of the two).
No matter how resilient you are, there’s only so much you can endure. Look out for the following seven signs of a nervous breakdown, and seek support if they sound familiar.
1. Reduced Concentration
Researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center note that moderate stress can actually be helpful to your concentration, as it prompts the release of memory-boosting hormones and enhances concentration.
However, chronic or intense stress has the opposite influence, dramatically cutting your attention span and making it hard to focus on even simple tasks. If you notice that your concentration is waning, plan some serious self-care. Good examples include exercise, time spent in nature, meditation and reading.
Any irregular heartbeat qualifies as an arrhythmia and (in the absence of an underlying medical condition) can indicate that you’re running low on emotional or physical reserves. You may feel like your heart is pounding, fluttering and skipping beats—and if you’re majorly overwhelmed, a panic attack can even follow.
If your doctor has reassured you that you’re otherwise well, you can calm your heartbeat by taking slow, deep breaths and making time for a regular yoga routine.
3. Digestive Upsets
As you probably know, stomach aches aren’t always caused by infections—often, they’re the result of anxiety or stress. If diarrhea, cramps, gas and bloating have become everyday occurrences for you, consider whether you’re on the verge of mental collapse.
You could be suffering from stress-induced IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)—an estimated 50-90% of people with IBS also have anxiety or depression. There are drugs that can help reduce intestinal spasms, but cutting back on your commitments and taking some time out for yourself can make a huge difference.
The type of headache most common associated with stress is a tension headache. So if you have pain around your temples and pressure that feels like a band around the head, you could be reaching a point where you can no longer cope with life’s stresses.
You can also experience associated pain in your neck, as all the muscles in this area become perpetually tense as your body goes into a long-term “fight or flight” mode. As with gastric difficulties and arrhythmias, all new headaches should be checked out by a doctor.
But when they occur at the same time as other symptoms on this list, a nervous breakdown could be just around the corner if you don’t change something about your life.
When your thoughts are going round in circles and you’re exhausted by stress, it can be so hard to switch off and get restful sleep at night. However, this only makes you more tired, which in turn makes you more stressed.
Do your best to engage in a relaxing activity for at least an hour before bed, and keep electronic devices out of the bedroom. Meanwhile, note that some people battling chronic stress actually sleep too much due to becoming depressed, so any unusual sleep pattern could be a sign that you need to look at your mental health.
While we’re on the subject of depression, it’s vital to be aware that nervous breakdowns are part and parcel of this mental health issue for some people. While depression presents in different ways for different people, key signs include a lack of pleasure in things you use to love, feelings of hopelessness, lethargy, reduced sex drive and low self-esteem.
If that sounds like you, please speak to your doctor about the potential for medication and therapy—with good treatment, it’s entirely possible to stop depression from leading to a nervous breakdown.
Anxiety disorders also have a link to nervous breakdowns, and they come in many forms. For example, some people are consumed by fear of specific things or become fixated on phobias. For others, the anxiety revolves around social interaction, or begins to be linked to obsessions and/or compulsions (such as repeated hand washing or a need to have objects ordered in a certain way). All of these anxiety disorders share symptoms of racing thoughts, feelings of panic, and difficulty engaging in tasks that others find “normal” or easy.
If you’re worried that you’re on the verge of a breakdown or just have a sense that something isn’t right with your mental health, don’t delay in seeking the support of a doctor or a therapist. With prompt treatment, you can massively reduce the chances of going through a full-blown nervous breakdown.