What is a nervous breakdown?

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A degree of stress and anxiety is totally normal and is essential to keep us motivated at work, however, if stress and negative feelings of worry and anxiety are allowed to accumulate, they can begin to impact our daily lives. A mental health crisis is the proper name for the term controversial term, “nervous breakdown”. A nervous breakdown means different things to different people, and is not a medical definition. Instead it’s more of a general term that can be used to describe someone that is obviously not able to cope with their current level of stress, worry or anxiety.


There can be a number of factors that trigger a nervous breakdown. Extreme stress such as that caused by trauma, or the death of a friend or relative are often factors, however, often a nervous breakdown is due to the gradual build-up of stress from pressures such as work, money and relationships.


Spotting the signs:

1)    Feeling isolated and uninterested in other people

2)    Being distracted and unable to concentrate

3)    Having mood swings, especially having uncontrollable emotional outbursts

4)    Hallucinations or flashbacks to a stressful or traumatic event could be a sign of PTSD. If you have these symptoms then you need to talk to a doctor or counsellor

5)    Wanting to self-harm is another symptom that requires urgent professional help

6)    Insomnia and exhaustion

7)    Frequent illnesses, headaches, muscle pains, bowel problems, sweating and having a fast heart beat or feeling like there’s a lump in your throat are all physical signs of stress

When you’re experiencing a mental health crisis it can feel like there’s no way back. Full recovery is possible, and treatment is available for you! A combination of counselling and simple lifestyle changes can really help.

Tips to help you on the road to recovery:

1)    Relaxation techniques such as meditation and breathing exercises can be really helpful. Many people find that learning things like mindfulness techniques, meditation or yoga can be very calming and help relieve stress.

2)    Don’t do everything! No matter how good you are at multi-tasking it is really important to remember that you can’t do everything. Ask for help, and work out what you can and can’t do. Don’t be so hard of yourself, taking some time out to take care of yourself is really important.

3)    Have compassion with yourself and talk to your friends. It’s really easy to get into a spiral of saying “I don’t know why I’m struggling, everyone else is fine”, but this is extremely unhelpful. Feeling as though you aren’t normal is very isolating, and will only lead to more negativity. Talking to friends or loved ones often reveals that you aren’t alone in feeling stressed or anxious, and a fresh perspective on your problems can be very liberating!

4)    Break problems down into manageable chunks. It is easy to be overwhelmed by things when looking at all the things we have to do and all the pressures we’re facing. Breaking them down into “things to do today” and “things that can wait” can make those problems seem far more manageable. If someone can help you with a part of a problem then get them on board!

Mental health is just as important as physical health, indeed, the lines between the two are becoming ever more blurred. If you think you’re not coping, reach out and ask family, friends or a professional to help you manage!