Mental Breakdown Symptoms: Your Comprehensive Guide

Mental breakdown symptoms are a real problem for many people in this world who feel anxious and frustrated. It is difficult for them to calm their minds despite their best efforts. This frustration is often followed by depression, anger, and all-consuming guilt. Later on, you might feel physical pains all over your body, including headaches and back pain. All these might leave you thinking that the world is hopeless.

This comprehensive guide will teach you about the mental breakdown symptoms and how to prevent them. It describes all the different nervous breakdown signs that can occur in the life cycle of mental disorders. There are three main types of mental breakdown symptoms: cognitive, mood, and behavioral. If you know what they are, you will be able to recognize them and thus know when to seek help.


Mental Breakdown Symptoms: What Is It?

A mental breakdown occurs when sanity is temporarily lost. The diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) does not list it as an official diagnosis. Instead, it refers to an acute state of mental distress that has a variety of symptoms.

During a mental breakdown, people may not be able to perform daily tasks or even get out of bed for several days.

While psychological stress and depression can both cause people to feel overwhelmed by life events and unable to cope, the causes are very different.


Psychological stress is usually short-lived and stems from external factors, such as financial problems or relationship conflicts. Depression may last for weeks or months and typically stems from internal factors such as negative thoughts or beliefs.

A mental breakdown is sudden and overwhelming in its intensity. A person experiencing a total emotional collapse may temporarily lose the ability to cope with daily life responsibilities, such as work, relationships, or household management.

What are the signs of a mental breakdown?

Mental breakdowns manifest differently in every individual. The type of signs you get can also be affected by the actual reason. You may experience the following symptoms:

  • Psychological
  • Behavioral
  • Physical


The term “mental breakdown” isn’t a clinical one. It’s an umbrella phrase that covers a wide range of mental health crises related to extreme stress.

There are several signs to look out for when someone is having a mental breakdown. It’s important to remember that these signs can be different for everyone, and they can develop over time.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of a mental breakdown:


Loss of Appetite

Loss of appetite is a common but rarely discussed symptom of mental Breakdown. When you have a mental breakdown, you may find yourself unable to eat. This can happen for several reasons. You might not feel like eating because of extreme feelings of sadness and depression, or you might simply not have the energy to cook or prepare meals.

In some cases, the inability to eat is paired with a loss of interest in food. You might suddenly find that food no longer tastes good, or you don’t want to eat it because it would make you feel worse. It’s also common for people going through mental breakdowns to develop eating disorders or addictions, which can prevent them from eating regularly.

Poor Concentration

Poor or reduced concentration is one of the most obvious signs of mental breakdown. The affected person may not be able to focus and concentrate on several activities at a time. He/She may find it difficult to concentrate while driving, working, or even while studying.

The symptoms of poor concentration and lack of attention are common in people suffering from depression. You might have observed that people with depression have difficulty performing simple tasks such as doing daily chores, reading, writing, etc. This happens because the mind is distracted, and cannot concentrate on the task at hand.

 Exhaustion and Lethargy

You may experience a feeling of exhaustion or lethargy. Both physical and mental signs of depression can contribute to this feeling. You may have less energy to do things you normally do, or you may not have the motivation to get them done. 

The lack of energy and will to do these things can be overwhelming, causing you to feel more depressed, which only worsens your symptoms of depression.

Sleep problems are also common during a mental breakdown. You may have trouble falling asleep at night, wake up frequently during the night, or sleep more than usual. What’s more, even if you do sleep for long periods, you may still feel exhausted when you wake up.

The feelings you are experiencing are temporary. Mental health experts advise that you keep at it even when it seems difficult. They recommend making a plan for your day and sticking with it.

Changes in Sleeping Patterns

For some people, a mental breakdown may lead to insomnia or hypersomnia. Insomnia is the inability to fall or remain asleep for extended periods. People with insomnia often wake up several times during the night and may have trouble falling back asleep.

Hypersomnia is the opposite of insomnia and refers to excessive sleepiness or the need to sleep for prolonged periods. 

People with hypersomnia may feel tired even after sleeping for prolonged periods, and they may also experience difficulty waking up from sleep and staying awake during the day.

Excessive Guilt or Irrational Behavior

Excessive guilt can be a symptom of mental or emotional health issues. You may have an irrational preoccupation with your shortcomings, mistakes, or perceived faults. Sometimes, excessive feelings of guilt can be a sign of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

If you are experiencing a mental breakdown, your thoughts might become irrational and even delusional. Your thoughts may become disordered and chaotic. You might believe things that are untrue (delusions) or uncontrollable (obsessions).

Hallucinations, thoughts, or actions of self-harm, or thoughts of suicide

A mental breakdown is a period of intense mental distress. During this period, you’re unable to function in your everyday life.

This term isn’t a clinical one. People commonly use it to describe panic attacks or anxiety attacks. Some people might use the term to describe a long period of paranoia or hallucinations. Unless someone has been formally diagnosed with a particular mental illness, it’s not possible to know exactly what they mean by the term.

It’s important to note that everyone experiences stress, anxiety, and depression at some point in their lives as both normal and healthy responses to difficult situations. A mental breakdown is your body’s way of telling you that something needs to be addressed — either to be fixed or accepted and moved past.

However, if you find that your feelings aren’t going away quickly or are interfering with your everyday life, it’s time to seek help from a mental health professional.

The cause of a mental breakdown

In general, someone experiencing a mental breakdown is unable to function as they normally do. They are not able to go to work, school, or take care of themselves and their family. Sometimes the person doesn’t even leave the house.

Mental breakdown symptoms may be different for each person, but there are some common signs of mental and emotional collapse: 

● Disturbed sleep or insomnia

● Social withdrawal

● Anxiety or panic attacks

● Paranoia


A person suffering from a nervous breakdown may feel exhausted or drained all the time. They may feel hopeless and have thoughts of suicide. They may experience changes in appetite and weight. They may also engage in risky behavior, like drug and alcohol abuse. 

A mental breakdown isn’t a diagnosable condition like depression or anxiety; it’s more of a description of what happens when you suddenly can’t cope with stressors that would normally seem manageable. When you hear someone talk about having a mental breakdown, they may describe having feelings like: 

• Hopelessness

• Helplessness 

• Feeling overwhelmed or unable to deal with stressors 

• Intense emotions, including anger and sadness

• Feeling unable to control emotions

• Having emotional outbursts

• Having physical symptoms like headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, and stomach pain

Psychotic symptoms can also accompany mental breakdowns. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) defines psychosis as “a loss of contact with reality.”

What are the treatments for mental breakdowns?

In general, treatment of a mental breakdown is similar to treatment of other disorders. If you’re suffering from a mental breakdown, you should contact your doctor.

Your doctor might ask questions about your symptoms and current mental health. They might also have you take a questionnaire to help determine the severity of your condition.

After screening for any serious medical conditions, your doctor will likely recommend the following:

Treatment for underlying conditions. If you have an underlying condition that’s contributing to your mental breakdown, then treating that condition may ease your symptoms. You may need medication or therapy to manage your symptoms.

Lifestyle changes. Changing certain habits can improve your overall physical and mental well-being. Your doctor may recommend that you stop drinking alcohol or using drugs, get more rest, manage stress better, or engage in regular exercise. Improvements could include the following:

  • Reducing the number of responsibilities you have daily
  • Adding a stroll or other form of exercise to your daily routine
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • When you need to take a break, do so.
  • Meditation is being practiced.
  • Spending time in the outdoors

Counseling. Counseling can help you cope with the causes and effects of a mental breakdown. A counselor or therapist can provide support and guidance as you learn ways to manage stress and improve self-care.

Medication. Your doctor may recommend a prescription antidepressant or antianxiety medication to ease the symptoms of a mental breakdown while they resolve spontaneously or with the treatment of the underlying cause.

How Do You Deal with Mental Breakdown Symptoms?

If you experience one of the symptoms of a mental breakdown, it’s important to act quickly. The sooner you begin treatment, the faster your recovery.

Your options include:

Reach out to a loved one:  Sometimes, simply admitting that you’re struggling and talking through your feelings with someone you trust is enough to help you feel more in control of your emotions.

Call a crisis hotline: If you’re too overwhelmed to talk to someone you know, call an anonymous crisis hotline provided by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). A trained operator will listen to your problems and connect you with resources in your area.

Visit a therapist or psychiatrist: If your condition is making it difficult for you to function in everyday life, reach out to a therapist or psychiatrist for help. You can find physicians in your area by searching online at the American Psychological Association or American Psychiatric Association websites.

Final Thoughts

Having a mental breakdown can be a difficult experience, both physically and emotionally. There are several mental health issues and disorders that cause mental breakdown symptoms.

However, if you know what the various symptoms are, then it might make it easier to talk to someone about your experience and ask for help when you need it. Hopefully, this guide has been useful in helping you spot the symptoms and take the necessary measures to get professional help.


Manuel Santibenez
Manuel Santibenez is the Editor and Publisher of Daily Gist Hub. A native of Kwara state and a Christian by faith. He bagged his Diploma Certificate in Public Administration at the Ogun State Institute Of Technology Igbesa. His networth is estimated around $50k
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