Most people have heard about someone having a breakdown but may feel unclear about what that means and what takes place when that happens. A nervous breakdown is essentially a period of intense mental distress that interferes with a person’s ability to function normally in their daily life. Although the phrase “nervous breakdown” is not technically a medical term, it can still be used to describe serious symptoms of stress that are causing social and physical impairment.
The signs of a nervous breakdown can be physical, mental and behavioral as all aspects of a person’s health may be affected. When someone has a breakdown they can have mental illness symptoms such as depression and anxiety as well as physical symptoms such as muscle tension, shaking or upset stomach. They may also behave differently such as avoiding social functions, eating poorly, isolating themselves or not showing up to work.
When someone has a nervous breakdown they may also experience issues such as panic attacks, hallucinations, extreme mood swings, paranoia, flashbacks of a traumatic event or other symptoms. The things that a person goes through during a nervous breakdown can depend on the cause of their breakdown and other factors such as history of mental illness or genetic vulnerabilities. Causes of a nervous breakdown can vary from person to person but common factors can be – work stress, recent trauma, serious financial issues, life changes such a divorce or loss, injury or illness, and mental health problems.
The good news is that even though a nervous breakdown can be devastating, it is possible to recover and pull out of it. Professional treatment allows people the opportunity to understand the cause of their breakdown and work on strategies to improve their health. Individual and alternative therapies combined can be effective at treating the symptoms of a breakdown.