Known by many names—melancholia, neurasthenia, mental breakdown—nervous breakdown is a broad term that encapsulates a wide range of mental illnesses. In simple terms, nervous breakdown means collapsing physically, mentally and emotionally under extreme stress and pressure. When a person feels exhausted beyond measure due to the pressures in his/her life and he/she crumbles down, the phenomena is known as mental breakdown. It is the inability of an individual to perform daily functions of life properly due to the overwhelming demands of life. Contrary to its name, nervous breakdown has nothing to do with the nerves in the body and it is also not a medical term as there is no psychiatric definition of nervous breakdown. Since it includes a spectrum of mental conditions, therefore it is not considered a scientific term and is no longer used in the field of psychiatry. It represents an underlying mental and emotional issue along with behavioral dysfunctionality, which leads to stress, nervousness and anxiety. It takes place when this underlying issue is not dealt with for a long period of time. The proper diagnosis for what we call in layman terms ‘nervous breakdown’ is major depression. Some of the very common symptoms of major depression are disorientation, perpetual confusion, physical weakness, extreme tiredness, uncontrollable crying and general feeling of hopelessness. There is always a catalyst that starts the episode of a nervous breakdown. This catalyst usually arises from a life changing event like death of a loved one or financial breakdown or a broken relationship, etc. Factors that can potentially lead to a nervous breakdown are stress, depression, drug abuse, alcoholism or overbearing emotional problems. No matter how intense the nervous breakdown is it can be cured by different methods and approaches like clinical treatments, natural remedies, counseling, nutritional supplements, etc. but there is not a specific cure for it. To understand more about nervous breakdown, it is important we discuss its various symptoms.
Symptoms Of Nervous Breakdown
Extreme Mood Swings: If your mood changes frequently and intensely then it is a sign that you are suffering from major depression. People with extreme mood swings feel over the top happy and severely sad frequently. This behavior come off as an apparent strange conduct to others.
Suicidal Thoughts: The person suffering from nervous breakdown will often have very convincing thoughts of ending his/her life to end all the miseries. This individual might even make an attempt at it. It is a sign of an extremely unhealthy mind as a wish to killing oneself means that there is not even a minute feeling of self preservation retained in that individual.
Depression: It is one of the early signs of nervous breakdown. People who are suffering from depression become excessively reclusive and they feel low and hopeless all the time. Even their body language changes as they can be seen mostly with their heads bent down and stooped shoulders. It takes a bit of mental and emotional effort to come out of a long term depression, if given right environment and support.
Anxiety: If an individual has extreme anxiousness even in the most usual of the circumstances, he/she is suffering from the symptoms of nervous breakdown. Anxiety is usually followed by fluctuations in the blood pressure, tensed muscles, sweaty hands, trembling of limbs, loss of appetite, dizziness, upset stomach; all of these are signs of a potential nervous breakdown.
Panic Attacks: Panic attacks are similar to anxiety attacks and are usually accompanied by it. An individual feels pounding chest pain, shortness of breath, excessive fear and loses control over his/her own body while having a panic attack. If an individual is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, he/she will suffer from frequent episodes of panic attacks.
Delusions: People who suffer from long phases of depression and other mental conditions become susceptible to hallucinations or delusions. It is an indicator of a probable nervous breakdown as the individual starts to believe in unreal things. This could lead to a complete collapse of a functional life.
Fear: Extreme fear or paranoia is an indicator of a possible nervous breakdown. In paranoia, an individual very strongly and convincingly believes that others are trying to harm him/her physically, mentally and emotionally. This individual remains suspicious of everyone’s intentions towards him/her.
Changes In Lifestyle: It is easy to tell that a person is suffering from an impending nervous breakdown if he/she has significant changes in his/her lifestyle. This may include changes in the sleep cycle, noticeable weight gain or loss, loss of appetite, etc.
Feeling Of Isolation: People who are likely to to suffer from nervous breakdown may deliberately alienate themselves from everyone, especially their friends, family and people close to them. To feel alienated for some period is just a sign of overstress and pressure but to keep oneself isolated for a long period of time may indicate a bigger problem related to depression.
Recalling Of A Traumatic Event: If the individual suffering from symptoms of nervous breakdown had a traumatic experience in the past which led to depression and other mental condition, is still getting flashbacks of the same incident then it is a sign of post traumatic stress disorder and it indicates a strong possibility of a nervous breakdown.
Other Signs: Poor concentration, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine or tension headaches, low libido, memory loss, visual disturbances, disrupted menstrual cycle, dysfunctional anger, low self esteem, loss of enjoyment, feeling of guilt, etc.
How To Treat Nervous Breakdown
Open Up: If you think that you are suffering from nervous breakdown then it must be making you lonely. It is important that you talk to someone about it and take help if necessary. If you will keep it inside you then the intensity of the problem might become more grave, leaving you more confused and paranoid.
Healthy Lifestyle: It is understandable how you must be feeling low and how your lifestyle must have gone for a toss but it is absolutely vital that you make a conscious effort to keep yourself physically and mentally healthy. You can ensure that your have a good health by taking proper diet and maintaining a healthy sleep cycle. This will help your body to fight with depression.
Realistic Expectations: Now that you understand that your problem is bigger than you thought and it can have a grave impact on your life, take it easy. Be gentle on yourself and do not put yourself under any kind of unrealistic expectations. You will have to come to terms with the fact that you will recover from your depression after considerable amount of time and life will come back to its usual functionality only after a long period of relaxation. Therefore, take it easy and deal with one problem at a time.
Professional Help: If you feel that your problem is beyond yourself and you need some professional help then do not hesitate and consult a doctor. Nervous breakdown is a life changing condition and if it is not dealt with care and consideration then it can lead to a complete disruption of life. Therefore, you should consult a doctor and tackle it more methodically, especially if you suffer from more critical symptoms like hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, etc.