7 Signs You’re on the Verge of Having a Nervous Breakdown

By The Captain December 7, 2020

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What is a nervous breakdown?

Nervous breakdown is no longer considered a medical term or diagnosis, but this doesn’t mean its symptoms and effects aren’t just as real and profound for the person experiencing it. In general terms, a nervous breakdown refers to acute feelings of mental or emotional stress that prevent someone from functioning normally.

According to David A. Merrill, MD, PhD, a neurologist and psychiatrist at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, the intense feelings of stress, worry and anxiety can make a person snap. To prevent that from happening, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of a nervous breakdown and talk to a health specialist in order to alleviate them before you’ve reached your breaking point. “Nervous breakdowns need to be treated both medically and psychologically,” Dr. Merrill explains. “There are lots of new treatments available, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

That being said, if you’re under a lot of stress, here are 7 signs that might indicate you are headed for a nervous breakdown.


You’re unable to concentrate

Experienced in the short term, the right kind of stress can sharpen your mind and improve your memory and alertness. On the other hand, in the long term, stress can become chronic and can trigger unwanted changes in the structure and function of your brain.

Stress can make you unable to filter and block out sensory distractions and concentrate on your important tasks, whether at the office or at home. According to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, increased levels of cortisol, aka the stress hormone, can cause cognitive decline and memory loss. If you’re feeling stressed out and can’t concentrate, you might want to take a mental health day to avoid a nervous breakdown.

SEE ALSO Boost Your Brain Power With These 7 Amazing Superfoods.

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You’re no longer interested in your appearance

“Neglecting basic self-care is a clear sign of serious mental distress,” warns Dr. Merrill. The fact that you no longer pay attention to basic hygiene habits, such as brushing your teeth, taking a shower, putting on makeup or dressing up for work, might be an indication of a depressive episode or mental breakdown.

Stress can take a dramatic toll on your body and mind, causing you to feel tired and down and gnawing at your motivation to do the things you used to like affecting your general well-being.


You can’t stop eating

How often do you find yourself reaching for a candy bar, ice cream or some other type of comfort food at the end of a long, stressful day? If your answer is more often than not, you should know there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for your cravings.

When you’re stressed, your brain releases several hormones such as adrenaline, which triggers your body’s fight or flight response. After this rush of adrenaline fades, your body receives another signal from the cortisol hormone, that it needs to replenish the glycogen stores to get the energy back. How? With food.

Dr. Merrill explains that our bodies are biologically wired to go for comfort foods that are high in fat and sugar. That’s because such foods boost pleasure chemicals in the brain and make you feel good in the short term.

RELATED: Stressed Out? Here’s How It’s Affecting Your Weight Loss Plan

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You have frequent stomach issues

Overeating, lack of concentration or motivation are not the only signs of an emotional breakdown. Your constantly upset stomach might also be sending you signals that something’s seriously wrong. If you frequently experience abdominal pain, constipation, bloating, gas, and diarrhea, you could suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which has been associated with chronic stress.

According to data released by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 50 to 90 percent of Americans suffering from IBS also have a mental disorder, such as depression or generalized anxiety disorder.

See also 5 Ways Depression Can Secretly Ruin Your Life.


You can’t sleep properly

Sleep disorders can be the result of chronic stress and might also indicate that you are on the verge of a mental breakdown. According to Dr. Merrill, “Stress leads to anxiety, which makes it so you can’t relax, which then makes it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. That means you don’t get the rest and rejuvenation your body needs to recover from stress.” As a result, you feel more and more tired, the stress symptoms aggravate, and you find yourself in an endless vicious cycle of stress and insomnia.

If you have sleep issues and Want to Fall Asleep in Seconds, Follow These Expert-Approved Techniques.

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You look defensive all the time

Our attitude, expressions, postures and non-verbal gestures can say a lot about ourselves, including our mood and state of mind. Have you ever noticed that some people look sadder or more stressed than others because of their posture? Dr. Merrill explains that when people have a defensive posture, with their arms crossed, their eyes on the ground or staring at something else other than their interlocutors, it might mean that they are overly concerned about something, stressed and defensive.

The more stress you accumulate, the more rigid your posture and the more defensive your look, making people avoid you, which, in turn, will make you feel even sadder.


You’re overwhelmed by angst

“People under a lot of stress often interpret benign things as negative, causing them to feel constantly worried even when there is no obvious cause for it,” says Dr. Merrill. Blowing things out of proportion can also make you feel like you’ve no longer in control of your life and there’s nothing you can do about it, which can trigger a nervous breakdown.

If you can’t seem to get over your worries and anxieties, you can  Improve Your Mental Health Through Exercise or, better yet, talk to your doctor to see whether you might need medication or other treatments to get rid of your anxiety.


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Wellness Captain