When life gets tough and stressful, we often try to push those feelings away and just keeping moving on with the things that need to get done. Many people have a mentality of pushing through hard times, but that can’t always work. Sometimes, when stress gets too much, we are at risk of putting ourselves through a nervous breakdown.
What is a nervous breakdown exactly?
According to Mayo Clinic, a nervous breakdown is “a stressful situation in which someone becomes temporarily unable to function normally in day-to-day life. It’s commonly understood to occur when life’s demands become physically and emotionally overwhelming. The term was frequently used in the past to cover a variety of mental disorders, but it’s used less often today.”
Remember to take care of yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
There are several early warning signs that people need to look out for when they’re at risk of a nervous breakdown. These signs should never be ignored, and help or support should be sought out as soon as the signs are recognized.
Here Are 7 Warning Signs Of A Nervous Breakdown To Never Ignore
1. Ill-managed mental health issues
If you have diagnosed anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar, or personality disorders, you may be at greater risk for a nervous breakdown – especially if your mental health isn’t being managed well. While anyone is capable of having a nervous breakdown, it’s more likely for people who have underlying mental health issues that aren’t being managed well. The first step to avoid a nervous breakdown is to make sure that any underlying mental health issue is well-managed, so that it doesn’t exacerbate the nervous breakdown.
2. Abuse of drugs or alcohol
Substance abuse is one of the major signs of someone heading for a nervous breakdown. Much like the underlying mental health issue, substance abuse only makes the likelihood of a nervous breakdown that much more. If you find that you drink more than you should, or use prescription drugs more often than your doctor recommends, you may need to seek out help before the use of the substances drive you to a nervous breakdown.
3. Extra stress that you can’t handle
Another early warning sign that points to a nervous breakdown is that your life has been extra stressful. Everyone has to deal with stress in their life, but perhaps your life has been full of extra stress lately – your job, your family, your relationship. When life throws us more than we can handle, it can be a precursor to having a nervous breakdown.
“In these cases, even someone who does not usually suffer from anxiety or depression can become overwhelmed to the point that they experience a mental health crisis,” says Heather Senior Monroe, MSW, LCSW, a social worker and director of program development at Newport Academy.
If you feel as if your life has been getting more stressful than you can handle, you’ll want to seek out a support system, or even maybe a therapist, who can help keep you in check.
4. Consistent panic attacks
If life is too much that you’re getting consistent or daily panic attacks, this is a huge warning sign of a nervous breakdown. This is a result of your nervous system going into constant fight-or-flight mode because of all of the stress that you’re dealing with in your day to day life.
Psychotherapist Sally Brown says that, “When anxiety is left untreated, it can trigger panic attacks, overwhelming feelings of fear and danger that seem to come out of the blue. Once you’ve had an attack, worry about having another one can be more undermining to mental wellbeing than the attacks themselves.”
When this starts to happen, you need to make sure you have a support system that you can turn to who can help you, or coping mechanisms to make your stressful life easier. You may even want to seek out a therapist.
When stress gets too much, we often no longer can feel the amount of stress that we’re going through. Instead of feeling panicky, anxious, stressed or upset, you may find that your feelings go away completely, and you start feeling numb instead. You may lose interest in your job, your family, your friends, or anything that you once enjoyed in your day-to-day life. This is a huge red flag that a nervous breakdown is on the horizon, and if you find you’re suddenly no longer interested in things, it’s time to seek help.
6. Normal life becomes too much
Of course, a stressful life can become unmanageable quickly. But when a nervous breakdown is on the horizon, even your normal day-to-day life feels like it’s too much for you to manage. You can’t get up in the morning, taking a shower is hard, even getting to work feels impossible. You’re overstimulated by even the most mundane things, and it all feels like it’s too much for you to handle “and social situations seem overwhelming,” states Monroe.
7. Suicidal thoughts
A big warning sign to a nervous breakdown is when you begin to have thoughts of suicide, because it seems easier than dealing with all of the stress that life has thrown at you.
“Mental breakdowns are often preceded by ongoing feelings of doom and worry, perhaps even suicidal thoughts, or by what’s known as ‘hyperarousal,’—feeling tense and overstimulated as a result of the nervous system going into ‘fight or flight’ mode,” adds Monroe.
When you begin to contemplate suicide, you need to seek out a support system or a professional as soon as possible. They will be able to help you with coping mechanisms, and your support system will be able to help you manage the stress in your life.
No one should have to go through a nervous breakdown. If it can be avoided, learning the signs of when a nervous breakdown is near can help anyone deal with the stress in their lives that is making it unmanageable. Friends, family and therapists can all be of great help when it comes to dealing with a nervous breakdown, or making sure that you don’t ever have to go through one.