The Mayo Clinic defines a nervous breakdown as a stressful situation in which someone becomes temporarily unable to function normally in day-to-day life. A mental breakdown most commonly occurs when life's demands become physically and emotionally overwhelming. A nervous breakdown however, is not a medical term, nor is it described as an actual mental illness. It is however, an unhealthy response to a situation and can indicate underlying mental health issues.
What can lead to a mental breakdown? According to Local Health, a mental breakdown is basically your body's stress response. If you are experiencing an extreme amount of stress that your body is unable to handle, often times the body will shut down, both mentally and physically, in an effort to relieve the stress. Nervous breakdowns usually call for an unusual or unexpected amounted of stress, or can be related to an ongoing anxiety disorder.
Other causes of mental breakdowns can be due to medications, drug or alcohol abuse or recalling stressful memories. Some risk factors to having a nervous breakdown include family or personal history of anxiety disorders, inadequate sleep or relaxation as well as negative life events such as divorce, death or financial distress.
The symptoms of a mental breakdown can vary from per on to person; however, the most common signs include:
- Fast-paced thinking
- Extreme nervousness or fear
- Rapid heart rate and breathing
- Sudden or uncontrollable trembling
- Calling off of work/school for several days at a time
- Missing appointments
- Avoiding social engagements
- Ignoring healthy patterns of eating, sleeping or personal hygiene
What are the treatments for a mental breakdown? According to Local Health, a mental breakdown can be treated in several ways. Often times, behavioral modifications such as practicing relaxation techniques and eliminated substances such as caffeine can help. In more serious cases, cognitive therapy and/or medication such as antidepressants may be prescribed to correct possible chemical imbalances. If you are not quite ready to go the route of a counselor or psychiatrist, there are other methods you can incorporate to alleviate stress such as:
- Massage therapy
- Nutritional dietary supplements, herbal remedies, tea beverages and similar products
- Regular exercise
- Avoiding drugs, alcohol and caffeine
The absolute worst thing to do in the case of a mental breakdown is to ignore the symptoms, as this can lead to long-term depression and social isolation. If you or someone you love is at risk for, or is currently displaying symptoms of a nervous breakdown, contact you doctor immediately for their professional, medical advice.