In the past, mental health professionals used the term “mental breakdown” (also known as a nervous breakdown) to describe the immense mental distress a person may experience at a certain period in life. Signs and symptoms of a mental breakdown may also mirror an undiagnosed mental illness.

In this blog post, find out how this stress-induced state of mind can affect your life and how to effectively cope with it.

Understanding Mental Breakdown

Although mental breakdown is no longer a generally accepted term used by mental healthcare practitioners, it is still often associated with a stressful circumstance wherein a person may temporarily be unable to cope with the demands of daily life. Someone who is experiencing a nervous breakdown may also find certain things emotionally and physically overwhelming to bear.

Mental breakdown covers a broad scope of psychological problems, including anxiety, depression, and acute stress disorder. It’s also an unhealthy response to stress.

Nonetheless, this catchall term does not have a concrete definition. It is generally deemed as a period when a person may suffer from severe and intolerable physical and emotional stress that can impair one’s capacity to manage such pressure.
Notably, a nervous breakdown has many faces. It varies from one person to another, depending on what sets it off. One’s culture, for instance, may contribute to the growing stress, which can eventually lead to a mental breakdown.

While experiencing stress is normal, a person having a mental breakdown should immediately consult professional help to take preventive measures. It’s something that should not be taken lightly to avoid debilitating mental health that can disrupt daily functions.

Causes Mental Breakdown

What Causes Mental Breakdown

As mentioned earlier, what triggers mental breakdown varies from one person to another. While it is not an official medical diagnosis, consulting with a mental health practitioner is a must to help treat underlying problems, such as depression and anxiety.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the major causes of mental breakdown:

1. Excessive Stress

While accumulated stress, anxiety, and pressure over the past months or years often lead to an emotional breakdown, a person may also experience such a crisis after going through a difficult problem.

Most of the time, people who feel pressured and stressed at work for having tons of responsibilities may suffer from mental breakdown symptoms. Students are also prone to this mental health problem when they struggle to excel academically.

Other reasons a person may suffer from excessive emotional stress include divorce, death of loved ones, high family expectations, abuse, and financial problems.

2. Poor Coping Skills

Some people react to high levels of emotional stress negatively. They often have a hard time managing and coping with the pressure that comes with their work or other personal matters.

In some cases, a person may end up withdrawing from their family and social group, which can make them feel more isolated. Distressed individuals may also turn to alcohol or drugs, start binge eating, and have a more unstable anger problem- these are related mental breakdown symptoms. These things may only cause more issues in the long run.

How to Overcome Mental Breakdown

Overcome Mental Breakdown
Mental breakdowns can undermine one’s life. Fortunately, people who are experiencing this dilemma can do something to help improve their mental breakdown symptoms.

  • Seek Professional Help. When you are having any psychological problem, it’s best to talk to any mental health professional, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, and other licensed clinical social workers. They can give you the necessary advice to help combat mental breakdown.

    Working with the experts may also help you overcome the signs of a nervous breakdown, especially when it has been taking a toll on your life, relationship, and work.

  • Sleep for At Least 8 Hours. Getting at least eight hours of sleep can make a huge difference to prevent sinking deep into, emotional stress, depression, and anxiety, which are common underlying factors that lead to mental breakdowns.

    Sleep deprivation won’t help you cope with any mental health problem, so it’s best to sleep your way through the night.

  • Live a Healthy Life. Your physical health has a big impact on your mental and emotional health. Following an active and healthy lifestyle can make a huge difference.

    Working out for at least 30 minutes per day and avoiding substances that can amplify stress even more, such as caffeine and alcohol, can help keep your body and mind healthy.

  • Other Tips. Other activities that can support your mental and emotional health include yoga, somatic therapy, and massage. Confiding with a trusted family member or friend can also help lift some burden off your shoulder.

    If you’re experiencing severe emotional stress, remember that you are not alone. Some people and organizations are willing to lend an ear to those who are struggling with any mental health problems.

What Are the Signs of Mental Breakdown?

Signs of Mental Breakdown
When someone is on the brink of a breakdown, you may spot some signs of a nervous breakdown through changes in their behaviors that affect their everyday routine.

For instance, people who are struggling with mental breakdown tend to avoid social engagements that they would normally enjoy.

They also isolate themselves from their loved ones and even closest friends. 

Such signs are quite alarming, especially if they are experiencing severe emotional stress. A lack of communication may only increase the feeling of being all alone.

It’s also common for someone mentally distressed to call in sick for many days or not show up to work for long periods. Apart from social withdrawal, individuals who are silently battling mental breakdown may end up neglecting their hygiene and show up to work or school unprepared. They also tend to overeat or oversleep or deprive themselves of food or rest.
The best way to overcome these mental breakdown symptoms is to get help from professional mental health practitioners. They know what exactly you are going through and they may suggest different activities or therapies that can help you get back on track. Without proper medical intervention, it will be quite challenging to bounce back from this mental health problem.

What Are the Symptoms of Mental Breakdown?

Mental breakdown symptoms are what a patient may feel within themselves that do not often have physical manifestations. Such symptoms, however, are indicators of looming mental health problems associated with mental breakdowns.

For instance, suicidal thoughts and self-harm tendencies are symptoms of emotional stress that are common for people who are having a nervous breakdown. They also have a pessimistic outlook on life, which stems from the loss of hope.

Anxiety can also take many forms: from high blood pressure level, upset stomach, constant dizziness, shaking, trembling, to having tense muscles.

Symptoms of Mental Breakdown

Panic attacks and paranoia are also common mental breakdown symptoms. Those who are mentally struggling with high levels of stress tend to feel extremely fearful and detached from themselves, evidenced by difficulty in breathing.

Flashbacks of traumatic events in one’s life may also plague a person who is mentally breaking down. It’s also a clear warning sign of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

Other symptoms include insomnia, hallucinations, remorseless mood swings, and even incomprehensible outburst.

If any of your loved ones are experiencing such mental breakdown symptoms, encourage them to seek professional guidance to get the help they need. It will help avoid the development of severe mental issues, such as severe depression and anxiety, which can negatively affect their life.

Risk Factors That Can Lead to Mental Breakdown

Just like other mental health problems, several risk factors can eventually result in a mental breakdown. 

Childhood abuse, neglect, or trauma tops the list. People who grew up in a hostile environment are prone to developing mental health issues later on in their life. Social stigma and discrimination may also contribute to the deterioration of one’s psychological well-being and cause emotional stress.

Individuals with social disadvantages, such as debt or poverty, or who are bullied or domestically abused can also suffer from signs of a nervous breakdown, even as an adult.
Other existing factors that increase the likelihood of mental breakdown are as follows: a personal history of mental health problems; family history of anxiety-related issues; and recent illnesses or injuries that make life more challenging than it already was.
For children and young adults, severe emotional stress or even distress is more common to individuals who have experienced a disaster, short-term living arrangements, or loss of loved ones.
Adults are also more susceptible to the negative impact of intense emotional stress when they have been previously diagnosed with chronic psychological disorders or other medical illnesses.

Single parents are also more prone to suffering signs of a nervous breakdown than those who are raising their kids with a partner. Discrimination and homelessness are also typical stressors that can push a person to the edge.

What Are the Treatments for Mental Breakdown?

Overwhelming situations that can trigger a mental breakdown are sometimes unavoidable. Fortunately, there are many ways to effectively handle such psychological problems.

For instance, changing unhealthy habits can improve one’s mental and emotional health. If you are constantly worrying about daily obligations that put too much pressure on your shoulders, it would be a smart move to free your schedule a bit to give yourself a chance to relax. Maintaining a healthy diet, meditating, and spending time with nature can also help you get back on your feet.

When you choose to seek professional help, your doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants to ease mental breakdown symptoms. For those who are suffering from insomnia, a sleeping pill may also be given to help you get the nightly rest you need.

On the other hand, psychotherapy or the “talk therapy” will also let you share your thoughts and frustrations with someone who understands your feelings, without the fear of judgment. Talk therapy is a way to eliminate signs of a nervous breakdown.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some of the commonly asked questions about mental breakdown:

Mental breakdown, similar to other psychological problems, does not have one particular form. It appears differently from one person to another.

For instance, a person who experiencing extreme emotional stress may eat more frequently or starve himself. It all boils down to what triggered the nervous breakdown or other existing factors.

As mentioned earlier, people who are experiencing signs of a nervous breakdown should consult professional mental healthcare practitioners for advice. Such experts may also prescribe medications that can improve the symptoms a patient may be experiencing.

Changing one’s habits and daily activities may also have a positive impact on boosting mental and emotional health.

The terms “nervous” and “mental” breakdown have been interchangeably used. However, both of them are no longer used in the medical field to define a particular psychological disorder or problem.

There are several vitamins that a person can take when extremely overwhelmed by life’s demands.

The herb called Rhodiola Rosea, for instance, helps improve your body’s response and resistance to emotional stress, thanks to its potent extracts known as rosavin and salidroside.

Many experts also attest that supplements can help lessen mental breakdown symptoms through a combination of botanicals and other extracts backed by research.

Relaxia is one of the many supplements on the market that promise to combat occasional anxiety and stress. It is a fast-acting pill that's natural and safe.

Additionally, melatonin is a natural hormone that helps control the body’s circadian rhythm. It is a substance that can help a person get enough rest during the night.


mental breakdown is a silent inner turmoil that a person may experience when things get extremely overwhelming and stressful. It’s something that needs to be addressed right away to avoid more problems in the future.

Although people who are having a hard time coping up with extreme emotional stress tend to fall into the pit of mental breakdown, they may just overcome this psychological war, with the right kind of support from their loved ones, medication, and therapy.