In today’s fast-paced world, the prevalence of mental health issues is on the rise. One common manifestation of these issues is a nervous breakdown. This article aims to delve into the various symptoms, causes, treatments, and self-care strategies associated with a nervous breakdown.

What Is a Nervous Breakdown?

A nervous breakdown, also known as a mental breakdown, is a state of severe mental distress that incapacitates an individual to function normally. It is characterized by overwhelming feelings of anxiety, depression, and an inability to cope with the demands of life. While not a clinical term recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a nervous breakdown is often considered a colloquial way to describe a range of mental health issues resulting in a temporary breakdown of coping mechanisms.
What Is a Nervous Breakdown?

Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are common symptoms of a nervous breakdown. Individuals may experience intense feelings of worry, fear, and restlessness, coupled with persistent sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 264 million people worldwide suffer from depression, and an estimated 284 million are affected by anxiety disorders.
(If you’re looking to educate yourself on the causes of anxiety, this article is an excellent resource that I highly recommend)

Anxiety and Depression

Changes in Sleep Patterns

One noticeable symptom of a nervous breakdown is disruptions in sleep patterns. Individuals may struggle with falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing frequent nightmares. Sleep disturbances can further exacerbate feelings of fatigue and affect overall mental health.
(To learn more about the recommended sleep duration, please refer to this article.)

Changes in Sleep Patterns

Brain Fog and Fatigue

Individuals experiencing a nervous breakdown often report feeling mentally foggy, forgetful, and fatigued. This cognitive impairment can impact daily functioning and exacerbate feelings of helplessness and frustration.

Feeling Helpless and Irritability

Feelings of helplessness and irritability are common emotional responses during a nervous breakdown. Individuals may feel overwhelmed by their circumstances and exhibit irritability towards themselves and others due to an inability to cope with stress.

Loss of Appetite (or Eating More Than Normal)

Changes in appetite are also indicative of a nervous breakdown. Some individuals may experience a loss of appetite, leading to unintended weight loss, while others may turn to food for comfort, resulting in overeating and potential weight gain.

Trouble Breathing and Uncontrollable Crying

Physical manifestations such as trouble breathing, chest tightness, and uncontrollable crying episodes can accompany a nervous breakdown. These symptoms can be distressing and may require immediate attention and intervention.

Emotional Breakdown

An emotional breakdown is a culmination of intense emotional distress that surpasses an individual’s ability to cope effectively. It can manifest as feelings of despair, hopelessness, and emotional exhaustion, often leading to a loss of control over one’s emotions.

What Causes a Nervous Breakdown?

There is no singular cause of a nervous breakdown, as it is often a result of a combination of factors. Common triggers include excessive stress, trauma, unresolved emotional issues, chronic health conditions, substance abuse, and genetic predispositions towards mental health disorders.

Treatment and Self-Care

Treatment for a nervous breakdown typically involves a combination of therapy, medication, lifestyle modifications, and self-care practices. Therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based techniques, can help individuals manage their symptoms and develop coping strategies.

Self-care practices like regular exercise, healthy eating, mindfulness meditation, adequate sleep, and engaging in enjoyable activities can also contribute to overall mental well-being. It is essential to prioritize self-care and seek professional help when needed.

When To See a Healthcare Provider

It is crucial to seek help from a healthcare provider if symptoms of a nervous breakdown persist or worsen over time. Professional assistance from therapists, psychiatrists, or counselors can provide the necessary support and guidance to navigate through mental health challenges effectively.


A nervous breakdown encompasses a range of symptoms that can significantly impact an individual’s mental and emotional well-being. Understanding the signs and causes of a nervous breakdown is crucial in promoting early intervention and support for those struggling with mental health issues.

By recognizing the symptoms, seeking appropriate treatment, and prioritizing self-care practices, individuals can effectively manage and overcome a nervous breakdown. Remember that mental health is a priority, and seeking help is a sign of strength.


  1. World Health Organization, Depressive disorder (depression)
  2. World Health Organization (WHO), Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders
  3. American Psychological Association, Self-care