The term “nervous breakdown” is sometimes used by people to describe a situation having intense mental and emotional distress, in which they’re temporarily unable to function normally in day-to-day life. It’s commonly understood to occur when life’s demands become physically and emotionally overwhelming. Nervous breakdown may indicate an underlying mental health problem that needs attention, such as depression or anxiety.
Nervous breakdown’ is not a medical term or a mental health diagnosis, since it does not describe a specific condition. It’s a term that is sometimes used conversationally to describe someone who is obviously not coping with stress, worry or anxiety, or who is being overwhelmed by mental health issues.
A nervous or mental breakdown does not have any defined symptoms, aside from difficulty or inability to function “normally.”
Some signs relate to a person’s mental state and how they are feeling, or changes in personality. However, physical symptoms are also common. Signs vary from person to person, and can depend upon the underlying cause.
People who feel they are having a nervous breakdown can:
• have anxiety that they can’t manage
• feel isolated — disinterested in the company of family and friends, or withdrawing from usual daily activities
• feel overwhelmed — unable to concentrate or make decisions
• be moody — feeling low or depression; feeling burnt out; emotional outbursts of uncontrollable anger, fear, helplessness or crying
• feel depersonalised — not feeling like themselves or feeling detached from situations
• be delusional – not be able to distinguish what’s real from what’s imagined
• have hallucinations — vivid flashbacks of a stressful or traumatic event can be associated with post-traumatic stress disorder — you should discuss any hallucinations or flashbacks with a doctor or counsellor
• feel paranoid — believing someone is watching or stalking you
• have thoughts of self-harm — if you have thoughts of self-harm, get professional help immediately
Physical symptoms can include:
• insomnia — when you have a lot on your mind it can be difficult to sleep, or sleep can be disrupted
• exhaustion — difficulty sleeping or anxiety can make you feel exhausted and lacking the energy to face routine tasks
• frequent illnesses — exhaustion can leave you susceptible to infections
• muscle pain — sore and stiff muscles, particularly in the jaw, neck or back from muscle tension
• bowel problems— stomach cramps and irregular bowel movements
• racing heart— feeling like your heart is racing, tightness across the chest or a lump in your throat, which can make it seem difficult to breathe (a panic attack)
• sweats — hot or cold flushes and clammy hands
People who are experiencing a nervous breakdown may avoid social functions, call in sick for work and isolate themselves at home. They may not be eating or sleeping properly, and they may not look after their personal hygiene.
Causes & Risk Factors –
A person may report having a nervous breakdown when stress is too much for them to bear. That stress can be caused by external influences.
Potential causes and triggers of a nervous breakdown include:
• recent injury or illness that makes daily life difficult to manage
• relationship changes, such as a divorce
• serious financial issues, such as a home going into for eclosure
• recent traumatic event, such as a death in the family
• persistent stress at work or school
• job loss
• exposure to violence
• a major life change, such as a relocation
• poor sleep
• chronic medical conditions
A personal or family history of mental health conditions can increase a person’s risk of experiencing a nervous breakdown. A lack of strong social support may also contribute.
A nervous breakdown is not a recognized medical term, so technically, there is no way to diagnose it.
A person who feels overwhelmed by stress or feelings of anxiety or who feels unable to carry on their daily life should see a doctor, who can help.
The doctor will try to identify any factors or medical conditions.
Doctors use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition to diagnose mental health conditions, including various types of anxiety. These criteria help them identify the cause of the problem and a suitable approach to treatment.
If you are experiencing psychological or behavioral symptoms of distress, there are some things that you can do.
• Talk to your doctor.
Your primary care physician can perform a physical exam and conduct lab tests to help rule out any underlying medical conditions that might be causing your symptoms.
• Try therapy.
Your doctor may refer you to a therapist who can help you with your symptoms with psychotherapy.
• Consider medications.
Some symptoms such as anxiety and depression may respond well to antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications.
• Manage your stress.
Try stress management techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness to help you relax and keep your stress levels under control.
• Get enough rest.
It can be hard to cope when you are exhausted. Focus on going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each day. Avoid electronics or stimulating activities at bedtime.
• Take care of yourself.
Eat healthy, nutritious foods and engage in regular physical activity to maintain your physical and mental health.
It is not uncommon for people to struggle to cope with life’s stresses. When stress starts to interfere with your ability to function it might be a sign of a mental health condition or that you need help finding ways to cope.
If you or someone you love is experiencing symptoms of what is sometimes referred to as a nervous breakdown, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor. Reaching out to a physician or mental health professional can lead to appropriate diagnosis, support, and treatment.
Ayurvedic Perspective –
When we understand our stress response and the doshas that are behind it, we can better manage our experience. The best way to balance your stress is to remove the root cause.
Here are some Ayurvedic strategies to balance your stress by dosha.
• Vata is the air and space elements and prone to anxiety, worry and fear. To balance, connect with the heavy, supportive and grounding earth and water elements. Try earthing or grounding by walking barefoot on the earth, take warm, soft and soupy foods with healthy fats. Get plenty of rest.
• Pitta is the fire and water elements and manifests as anger, frustration and impatience when stressed. To balance, apply cooling, and grounding techniques like *savasana*. Take time off from work and busy schedules for activities that bring you joy.
• Kapha is the earth and water elements and shows up as depression, lack of energy and withdrawal. To balance, incorporate stimulating activities like exercise and fresh air. Enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, and lighter foods with spices.
▪︎ Beneficial Herbs
When life gets hard, remember that there are always tools available to you.
For more informative articles on psychology and on other health related issues, please visit our website www.santripty.com and also feel free to consult.