Have you had a mental or nervous breakdown before? You may not even know how a mental breakdown attacks you or even how it feels like to have one. Well, we are here today to look at the signs of a mental breakdown to look out for.

A “nervous breakdown” or “mental breakdown” is a term used to describe a period of intense mental distress or illness that occurs suddenly. During this period, one may be unable to function well in their everyday life.

A mental or Nervous breakdown is not a medical term or a mental health diagnosis, since it does not describe a specific condition. It is however a term that is sometimes used conversationally to describe someone who is not coping with stress, worry or anxiety, or who is being overwhelmed by different mental health issues.

This term was once used to refer to a wide variety of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety as well as acute stress disorder
Nervous breakdown is not a medical term or official diagnosis of a specific condition.

It doesn’t have one agreed-upon definition but is instead used by many people to describe intense symptoms of stress and an inability to cope with life’s challenges. What others see as a nervous breakdown can also be an undiagnosed mental health condition.

Nowadays, doctors have better ways of diagnosing, describing and treating intense mental distress, and this can help to avoid stigma in mental health.

Signs of a mental breakdown to look out for.

You need to recall that people who are experiencing a nervous breakdown may avoid social functions, call in sick for work and isolate themselves at home. They tend not be eating or sleeping properly, and they also tend not to look after their personal hygiene. All these are signs of a mental breakdown to look out for.

If you are concerned that you or a loved one is experiencing a nervous breakdown, it is important to seek help and to see a doctor or counsellor. This is simply because untreated mental illness can lead to longer lasting mental health problems, as well as social and physical problems.

Remember that a nervous breakdown is often triggered by intense stress and can cause both psychological and physical symptoms. A doctor may recommend a combination of treatment options, which could include talk therapy (psychotherapy), medications as well as lifestyle changes.

Keep in mind that there could be very many triggers that could lead to a mental break down and before you consider signs of a mental breakdown to look out for you need to look at the triggers which include;

Major life changes

When you experience major life changes, it can be such a stressful period and such changes could be very difficult to deal with. When you are overwhelmed with stress, it is possible that you could suffer a mental breakdown considering that stress and failure to cope with it is the major trigger of a mental breakdown.

Lack of sleep

If you’re having problems sleeping, you might be more likely to feel anxious, depressed or even suicidal. You may be more likely to have psychotic episodes as well. Keep in mind that poor sleep can trigger mania, psychosis or paranoia, or make any existing symptoms worse.

Financial problems.

When you are having money worries. It can adversely impact your sleep, self-esteem, and energy levels. It can leave you feeling angry, ashamed, or fearful, fuel tension and arguments with those closest to you, exacerbate pain and mood swings, and even increase your risk of depression and anxiety, which eventually leads to a nervous breakdown.


When you are abused, most especially emotionally, you may experience deep shame, guilt, and self-loathing. This is majorly because these are feelings the abuser has deliberately cultivated in you and as a result of the stigmas and misunderstanding that surround abusive relationships, you could suffer a mental breakdown.

Increased stress levels.

When the stress becomes unbearable, it can lead to a nervous breakdown. Studies have shown that stress affects both your mind and your body. Long-term stress can lead to structural changes in the brain, which can affect your memory and lead to difficulty in concentrating.

Since the term “nervous breakdown” is not used in the medical community, this mental state been described with a wide variety of symptoms that tend to appear suddenly. Here are the signs of a mental breakdown to look out for:

Signs of a mental breakdown to look out for.

Loss of interest in hobbies or activities.

While experiencing a nervous break down, you will feel the need to withdraw, not only from people but also from activities you once considered fun for you. This means you will neglect everything you once considered enjoyable and withdraw from such activities.

Thoughts of suicide or self-harm.

If you find yourself having life, wishing for your own death or even planning for your own death, this means you are coming down with a mental breakdown. You could find yourself researching about ways to end your life but if you ever get this sign, seek for medical assistance for a nervous breakdown.

Changes in appetite.

When you find yourself having changes in your appetite, that could be a sign that you are having a mental breakdown. Remember that when you have a nervous breakdown, you get stressed.. Stress often leads to changes in appetite. While some people may experience a loss of appetite in response to stress, others may cope with stressful situations by overeating.

Poor sleep.

A nervous break down can cause high levels of stress and in turn, high levels of stress can cause difficulties falling or staying asleep. Keep in mind that Sleep disorders also often occur alongside certain mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. Additionally, poor sleep quality and insomnia can interfere with your ability to function and may contribute to or exacerbate symptoms of mental health conditions.

Panic attacks

Some people may experience panic attacks in response to extreme stress and nervous breakdowns. This can cause also cause symptoms such as extreme fear or a sense of doom, difficulty breathing, trembling or shaking, an accelerated heart rate or heart palpitations and sweating.


High amounts of stress resulting from mental breakdowns can cause feelings of tiredness and fatigue. Not only that, but certain issues associated with stress, such as poor sleep, can also contribute to low energy levels and exhaustion.

Signs of a mental breakdown to look out for

Difficulty concentrating.

Some research suggests that stress can cause changes to the function and structure of the brain, which could affect memory and concentration.High levels of stress may also negatively affect learning, making it more difficult to perform at work or school. When you notice this, you could be coming down with a nervous breakdown.


People experiencing a nervous breakdown may also withdraw from family, friends, and coworkers. Signs of withdrawal may include avoiding social functions and engagements, eating and sleeping poorly, maintaining poor hygiene, calling in sick to work for days or not showing up to work at all as well as isolating yourself in your home.

Well, if you ever spot any of the signs of a mental breakdown to look out for, either in yourself or in a friend, do seek medical advice as soon as quickly before the condition escalates.


Instead of heading for a big mental breakdown, I decided to have a small breakdown every Tuesday evening.”

Graham Parke, No Hope for Gomez!

Frequently Asked Questions.

How long do mental breakdowns last?
A nervous breakdown can last from a few hours to a few weeks. If your breakdown has been going on for a while, and you need some relief, the following ten tips are for you. They will help you not only survive this difficult time, but they might even help you grow from this difficult experience.

How do you fix a mental breakdown?
Treatment for a nervous breakdown may involve therapy, medication, and self-care or lifestyle changes. Working with a therapist can help someone manage negative emotions, explore the causes of those feelings, and change thoughts and behaviors to minimize stress and better cope with it.

Can a mental breakdown cause brain damage?
According to recent studies, Emotional Trauma and PTSD do cause both brain and physical damage. Neuropathologists have seen overlapping effects of physical and emotional trauma upon the brain.

Can people recover from a breakdown?
It is possible to recover from mental health problems, and many people do – especially after accessing support. Your symptoms may return from time to time, but when you’ve discovered which self-care techniques and treatments work best for you, you’re more likely to feel confident in managing them.

How do you treat mental illness without medication?
Things like therapy, brain stimulation, supplements, and self-care are scientifically-backed as effective ways to reduce the symptoms of certain mental illnesses.

Leticia Nambaziira

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for being of assistance to me. I really loved this article.

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