Emotional Wellbeing

Mental Health

Mandy Kloppers

Common signs of a mental breakdown

Sliding towards a mental breakdown can occur quite gradually and subtly. A mental breakdown usually occurs after an accummulation of mental stress and rarely occurs out of the blue. As a rule, many of us try for a long time to cope alone and some of us never get the emotional support that we need. There is only so much the body can take before our minds start to rebel and show us signs that we need to seriously re-assess our lives.

There may be any number of different factors that trigger a nervous breakdown in an individual, but generally what leads to a breakdown is a buildup of stress, pressure, and anxiety. One person might experience a slow building of stress that over months causes the eventual breakdown, while another experiences one big stressful situation that triggers a crisis. The commonality is stress and a feeling of being pressured to keep up and to continue to function normally.

Here are the common signs of a mental breakdown:

Lower tolerance for frustration

As we begin to succumb to emotional stress, our tolerance for stress diminishes. We tend to be more snappy and can’t manage the same amounts of stress as we normally can. A good example of this is road rage. Things that normally wouldn;t trigger us begin to upset and annoy us. This alone isn;t a clear sing of a mental breakdown but it is a sign that perhaps you aren’t dealing with your levels of stress effectively. This may be an initial warning sign that you need to take a step back and find useful ways to reduce your stress levels.

Crying easily

Another common sign of a mental breakdown relates to crying easily. If you find you are more tearful than normal this could be a sign that your ability to cope is diminishing. Clearly, this does not apply if you have good reason to be tearful but if you find you are crying because you have run out of toothpaste, this could be a sign that you are heading into mental breakdown territory.

Changes in sleep patterns

Sleeping too much or not sleeping enough can be a sign that you aren’t coping. If you find you are sleeping more than usual, this could be a sign that you are avoiding life and escaping from your problems. Insomnia can also suggest that there are mental health issues. Again, changes in lseeping patterns on their own might not suggest a mental breakdown but it can be a sign that something isn’t right.

Obsessing about something in particular or becoming paranoid

Intrusive thoughts can be a sign of a mental breakdown. Are you acting out of character? Are you more angry than normal or more mistrustful of others than you normally would be? This can be a sign of emotional stress. Are you focusing on things that normally wouldn’t take up your focus to the same extent? Examples of this could be: a news event/story or something someone said or did that has become an issue that you can’t stop thinking about? This could be a sign that your mind is under strain and you are emotionally vulnerable. When you react in a more intense emotional way to events around you, this can often be a sign that you aren’t coping and that your emotional wellbeing and mental health are at risk. Rational thinking reduces.

Feeling a sense of doom

Feeling a sense of doom can often lead to avoidant behaviour. Do you feel as if something bad is about to happen? When you constantly feel as if something bad might happen, this can have a dramatic impact upon your mental health. In effect – your body is in “fight or flight” mode and feeling under threat. This puts your body on alert and increases adrenalin and cortisol in the blood. This state of being on alert and in ‘threat mode’ can have an exhausting effect on your body and your mind.

Feeling unsafe and vulnerable

This is similar to feeling a sense of doom. You may have a feeling that people are out to get you, that they aren’t on your side. This type of thinking can be distorted and can add to the stress you are already experiencing – it becomes a snowball effect. You begin to feel you can’t trust anyone and this causes you to withdraw and isolate yourself.

Less attention to self care

At times, during a mental breakdown, a person goes into survival mode and self care can be neglected. A person may not wash or brush their teeth. They literally begin to exist and not function normally as they used to. A person may not be able to attend to daily life as they used to – cooking, cleaning and going about their usual daily life.

Withdrawing from others

Avoidant behaviour is quite common when we experience stress. We tend to hunker down and hope we can sort ourselves out. Often this compounds the issue as we are stuck with our distorted thinking and have no one to help challenge it. Our thoughts can become more irrational when we are under mental strain. We need others to help keep us rational and being around others can stop us from sinking further down.

What usually happens though, is people withdraw and isolate themselves. They tend to feel bad about themselves because they aren’t coping as well as they can. People experiencing a mental breakdown can direct anger and hatred at themselves. This clearly is unhelpful. Many people experiencing mental health issues feel alone and have no idea where to go for help. When we experience mental health issues, we doubt ourselves and blame ourselves. When we can’t see a physical ailment, such as a broken leg, we tend to blame ourselves and feel we are failures. This couldn’t be further from the truth but the sad fact is that many think this way and it just adds to the mental strain and emotional angst.

Very negative mindset..fearful

Again, a mental breakdwon often includes distorted thinking. We become self critical, we focus on things that aren’t going well and become overwhelmed by negative thinking. Of course, the more negative our thoughts are, the more negative we will feel and it becomes a dangerous cycle. When we aren’t feeling mentally strong it can be a monumental task to bring yourself out on your own.

When you are experiencing a mental breakdown, it often isn’t possible to think your way out of it. Our brains can become overloaded and it is suspected that a chemical imbalance occurs causing thoughts to become more irrational.

A nervous breakdown is ultimately caused by an inability to cope with large amounts of stress, but how that manifests exactly varies by individual. Work stress, mental illness, family responsibilities, and poor coping strategies are all things that can lead to a nervous breakdown and the inability to function normally. The good news is that nervous breakdowns are treatable and manageable. Finding a good counsellor, making lifestyle changes to reduce stress, and taking care of mental illness can make a full recovery possible.

Mandy X

If you need help urgently please see contacts on this page: https://thoughtsonlifeandlove.com/mental-health-resources/

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

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