What Does It Feel Like To Have A Nervous Breakdown?

Updated July 10, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Debra Halseth, LCSW

Having a nervous breakdown is something that feels absolutely horrible. Some people encounter tough times in their lives and it makes them feel like they can’t keep moving forward. A nervous breakdown is like a full system shutdown in many ways. You just don’t feel like you can do anything anymore and it’s a dangerous predicament to find yourself in. Nervous breakdowns can be linked to severe depression, stress, and traumatic events. People have nervous breakdowns for various reasons and sometimes a person will have a nervous breakdown without having a reason that seems apparent.

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If you’re curious about what a nervous breakdown feels like, then you should keep reading. You’ll be able to explore the topic in detail to learn about the type of situation that a person going through this is in. You will understand the symptoms of a nervous breakdown and it’ll be easier to know what to do if someone you love needs help. This is a serious mental health issue that should not be ignored and you will definitely benefit from educating yourself about what a breakdown is all about.

The Symptoms Of A Nervous Breakdown

The symptoms of a nervous breakdown are actually very troubling. Many people who have had a nervous breakdown have experienced suicidal thoughts and some have even attempted suicide. Depressive thoughts such as loss of hope can lead people to feel that life isn’t worth living any longer. It can feel like the color in your world has disappeared and you’re left with nothing but gray skies. Many people have a tough time coping with feeling so hopeless and this is why they take such drastic measures. If you or someone you love is exhibiting symptoms such as suicidal thoughts or self-harming tendencies, then please seek out professional help right away.

Another common symptom of a nervous breakdown is high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is very high when you don’t normally have high blood pressure, then this could be a sign of a nervous breakdown. Sometimes people report feeling dizzy and they might even be trembling. The traumatic stress of their current life situation has simply become too much and these negative emotions are now manifesting themselves physically through these symptoms. Clammy hands, upset stomach, and tense muscles can all be attributed to having a nervous breakdown as well. Of course, these symptoms are not exclusively related to having a nervous breakdown, but many people who experience this have these symptoms and feel this way.

You might also have trouble sleeping at night if you’re going through a nervous breakdown. Many people who struggle with this can’t go to sleep even though they feel completely exhausted. Racing thoughts could also be a sign that you need to get help. If you can’t seem to find a sense of calm no matter what you do and no matter how tired you get, then you need to get professional assistance. You could be in a dangerous situation and will need to get help with your mental health as soon as you can.

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Extreme mood swings can also occur when someone is having a nervous breakdown. They might feel so emotional that they could cry one moment and will then suddenly have an angry outburst the next. Going from a profound sense of sadness to indignant anger isn’t uncommon when someone is in this position. Your mental health is very unstable when you’re in this condition and that presents itself through your wild mood swings.

People who have gone through traumatic events will sometimes relive past experiences mentally. If you have PTSD, then this could be a major contributing factor to your nervous breakdown. Experiencing events that have a profoundly negative impact on your life once again could be very harrowing. Some people also have hallucinations when they’re in this state. Seeking out a mental health professional is imperative when things have become this bad.

Panic attacks could also be a part of the equation. Many people who have a mental illness deal with panic attacks but this can become a common issue for those who are on the brink of having a nervous breakdown. It could make it impossible to go out in public due to always feeling like you’re on the edge of a panic attack. Panic attacks can also occur when you’re alone and they don’t necessarily have a trigger. People who are experiencing nervous breakdowns will sometimes feel very paranoid and this can make panic attacks even worse.

Becoming Socially Distant

People who are in the midst of a nervous breakdown might suddenly become socially distant as well. If you suspect that a friend has a mental illness and needs help, then you might want to reach out to see if things are okay. Sometimes those going through a nervous breakdown will completely withdraw and stop responding to calls or text messages, though. They might decide to shut themselves inside and avoid the outside world entirely.

Another potential sign that someone is having a nervous breakdown is that they might stop taking care of themselves. If you do see someone and they have stopped bathing or combing their hair, then that’s a bad sign. People who are going through a nervous breakdown might stop sleeping entirely and will look sleep-deprived and disheveled. If you can convince your loved one to get help, then it’s going to be best to do so.

Causes Of A Nervous Breakdown

What could cause a person to have such severe problems as this? Mental illness can certainly play a role and there are also other factors. Sometimes people go through particularly stressful situations. Work might be very stressful and this could cause someone to completely shut down due to not being able to handle the strain. People also have nervous breakdowns because of losing loved ones and going through other traumatic experiences. You have probably heard of people breaking down due to going through a divorce or losing someone dear to them. This is more common than many people realize and sometimes it’s tough to see that hope still exists when you’re in the midst of despair.

Financial hardships can also drive people to lose hope in the world. Someone could be on the brink of losing their house or something else that is very important to them. Chronic medical conditions could make someone feel like there is no hope left, too. There are many negative life events that could be the cause of someone having a nervous breakdown. Mental illness often plays a part, but the stress of life can be what pushes things over the edge.

What If You’re The One Who Needs Help?

If you’re the one who is worried about having a nervous breakdown, then it’s good that you’re recognizing that you need help. You’re not alone and others care about you and want to help you get better. There are treatments for nervous breakdowns and you can get better over time. You can address the mental illness issues that you’re dealing with and your mental health will improve substantially. It can take time to get back to a point where you feel strong again, but you just have to reach out to your doctor to get things started.

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Talking to your doctor is the best way to move forward. You might need antidepressant medication and some people also need to seek treatment for anxiety. Many people who are having a nervous breakdown will need to check into the hospital to be monitored while they’re feeling down. Mental illness isn’t something that has to get the best of you. Your mental health can be taken care of and your doctor will suggest various treatments that will work to start the process of healing.

Seeking Therapy

Seeking therapy is a good way to recover from having a nervous breakdown. Professional therapists often work with people who are going through issues like this. They are able to help them work through issues that might have caused them to shut down mentally. There are many things that might cause a nervous breakdown and sometimes a patient might have no idea why they feel the way that they do. A skilled therapist can help a patient to get to the bottom of things and they will be able to work on healing at a comfortable pace.

Finding a therapist that is experienced in helping people who have had nervous breakdowns is ideal. You can start working with the therapist to help yourself feel better and get back to living your life. It can take time to recover when you feel like you have been driven to the point of no return. Your therapist will work to help you with any mental illness that you might have and you can do your best to return your life to how it was before the nervous breakdown. Hopefully, you’ll know how to avoid problems moving forward due to developing coping mechanisms with your therapist.

Some patients with mental illness will benefit from considering online therapy as well. For many, online therapy is a great option that is convenient and cost-effective. You can get therapy without having to leave your home and it’s possible to connect with a therapist at times that work for you. Whether you’d like to work with a therapist at a local office or if you’d prefer to give online therapy a shot, you’re going to have allies on your side who will be ready to assist you. You can recover from your nervous breakdown and you can deal with any negative effects that your mental illness has had on your life. It takes time but you’ll never have to go through things alone.


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