Mental Breakdown – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, & Prevention

Mental Breakdown —Nervous Breakdown—a widespread and debilitating mental illness whose patient’s number is growing day by day.

So, with this article, we try to cover important facts about the mental breakdown, causes, signs and symptoms, treatment, and prevention.

But before diving directly to the causes of mental breakdown, let’s start with its introduction.

What is a Mental Breakdown?

What is a Mental Breakdown?

For the records, mental breakdown and nervous breakdown are the same.

In general, a mental breakdown is a part of a mental disorder known as an anxiety disorder. This means an acute attack of anxiety, which temporarily distracts someone to do their daily works.

They generally happen when you’re going to some emotional or physical stress. When a person has a nervous breakdown, he/she, at a sudden, lose their control over feeling, thinking, and not being able to perform their daily activities.

However, the term nervous breakdown is used to symbolize mental illness conditions such as depression, anxiety, acute stress disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

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Causes of a Mental Breakdown

Causes of a Mental Breakdown

For instance, there are various factors that can trigger a nervous breakdown. But the number one cause of the mental breakdown is excessive stress.

These are some of the following cases where, almost everyone, feel excess anxiety:

  • Stress due to work issues or loss of job
  • Lack of sleep— most common
  • Some financial issues
  • Some medical problem such as chronic pain or inflammatory medical conditions
  • Due to educational problems or pressures
  • Some trauma or a traumatic event 
  • Due to some serious personal isolation or divorce
  • Substance abuse such as opium, or cannabis

Other Causes of Nervous Breakdown

  • Certain medications conditions such as:
    • Clinical depression
    • Bipolar disorder
    • Adjustment disorders 
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
    • Anxiety-based illness
    • Schizophrenia
    • Acute stress disorder (ASD)
    • Dissociative identity disorder (DID)
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
  • Long-term stress
  • Due to prior stressful memories, and events

Signs and Symptoms of Mental Breakdown 

Signs and Symptoms of Mental Breakdown

The following are the common symptoms of nervous breakdowns that usually people experience:

  • Depression such as helpless, loss of hope and thoughts of suicide or self-harm
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Feeling tearful, or continuously irritable
  • Mood swings
  • Feelings of physical illness
  • Emotional numbness
  • Stomach ache: unhealthy eating and hygiene
  • Difficulty sleeping or unregulated sleep schedule
  • Anxiety or panic attacks

Now, there are other symptoms for mental (nervous) breakdown, but they aren’t that much common. These are as follows:

  • Tense muscles, and clammy hands
  • Frightening flashbacks and nightmares
  • Irregular breathing
  • Fight-or-flight symptoms, such as racing heartbeat, dry mouth, and sweating
  • Paranoia
  • Trouble in concentrating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Difficulty in focusing or remembering
  • Social withdrawal or avoiding normal social situations

Risk Factors for a Nervous Breakdown 

Some factors or a person’s experience can eventually lead to an increase in the risk of a nervous breakdown. These include:

  • Personal  and family history of anxiety disorders
  • Working long hours
  • Recent injury or illness 
  • Serious financial affairs such as bankruptcy, foreclosure
  • Poor sleep and relaxation
  • Inadequate support from close relationships and others
  • Ongoing working stress
  • Recent stressful life-events
  • Missing healthy coping mechanisms or getting into unhealthy people

Diagnosis for Mental Breakdown

Actually, there is no way to diagnose nervous breakdown via medical equipment. However, doctors, psychologists, or psychiatrists can diagnose and try to identify the factors and medical conditions that cause a nervous breakdown.

Through interaction, asking questions about symptoms, and reviewing the family or a person’s medical history could help to evaluate the condition.

Treatment for Nervous Breakdown

Treatment for Nervous Breakdown

In general, a nervous breakdown can be treated through some lifestyle changes. Life modification means such as practicing relaxation techniques for stress, deep breathing, and regular exercise.

However, it can be treated through medications such as antidepressant medication, antianxiety medication, and therapies such as talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. 

Let’s discuss some treatment plans for the mental breakdown patient:


They are a very effective means to rectify this mental illness. Typically, talking to therapists and making active lifestyle changes can make things simpler for the patients.

So, the person should talk to the therapist or join some therapy groups. And both play an important role in treating this mental condition. This is because by sharing the feeling to others, helps the person to get rid of negative thoughts or feelings.


The doctors may prescribe some drugs after seeing the diagnostic results. To address the chemical imbalance of mental health conditions such as depression, or anxiety disorders. They usually prescribed antidepressants or antianxiety drugs.

Lifestyle Change

Take a deeper look at your lifestyle which led to a nervous breakdown. With a few modifications in your lives such as finding a job and dumping a forceful relationship, etc. are effective ways of reducing the risk of this so-called nervous breakdown illness. 

Family Therapy and Education

Family plays an important role, both in making a mental breakdown worse or making it go away. Therefore, it is the best therapy because it involves your closed ones i.e. your family members. And it is found to be a great way to support and educate you, how to overcome the risk of a mental breakdown.  

Relaxation and Mindfulness Techniques

Alternative methods can also be used to treat nervous breakdown. Usually, practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and exercises could help a person to get rid of this mental illness fast.

These are some of the complementary treatments for the nervous breakdown:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy
  • Proper sleep
  • Nutritional dietary supplements, herbal remedies, tea beverages, and similar products
  • Yoga

Prevention from Mental Breakdown

Prevention from Mental Breakdown

Following are the ways by which you should try to lower the risk of a nervous breakdown:

  • Avoid caffeine
  • Avoiding alcohol and drugs
  • Take prescribed medications
    • Antidepressants medication
    • Antianxiety medication
  • Alternative treatment if you have stress
    • Acupuncture
    • Massage therapy
  • Getting enough sleep for at least six to seven hours a night
  • Practicing relaxation techniques for stress relief
    • Deep breathing
    • Progressive muscle relaxation
    • Regular exercising – yoga
  • Seek a counselor for advice on your stress and stressful life events
  • Talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy

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The term “mental breakdown” is sometimes used to describe a nervous breakdown. It is a stressful situation in which a patient is temporarily unable to think or do their daily tasks. However, it is usually due to some physical and emotional disturbance.

In addition, there are several symptoms that could be seen in the case of nervous breakdowns like stress, fast-paced thinking, fear, anxiety, or misadventure. Besides symptoms, there are a number of different causes and risk factors that can trigger a mental breakdown.

In particular, extreme stress, long hours of work, poor stress coping skills, not getting enough sleep, painful experiences, and more are common reasons. And for diagnosis, there is no solid factful way to identify this medical condition. But by reviewing the person’s life could give clues to doctors.

However, the treatment of this mental condition involves a combination of medication and non-medication techniques. Additionally, avoiding alcohol, drugs, and caffeine along with certain modifications in life could helpful in reducing the risk of a mental breakdown.

General FAQ

What happens during a mental breakdown?

Ans. During a mental breakdown, you may feel extreme anxiety, intense stress, or unable to function normal activities. However, it includes emotional distress as well as physical effects, such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, etc.

Where can I learn about mental breakdown treatment?

Ans. You can easily learn about mental breakdown treatment by your doctor, psychologists, or psychiatrists. 

What are the signs of a nervous breakdown?

Ans. Generally, there are many signs of mental breakdown including depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, hopelessness, unhealthy eating, poor hygiene, etc.

How is mental breakdown treated?

Ans. Treatment includes a combination of medication such as anti-anxiety, medications, antidepressants, while non-medication treatment such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and support groups are very helpful.

How to help someone during a mental breakdown?

Ans. You can help someone during a mental breakdown by creating a safe and secure environment, by listening without judging, encouraging a healthy lifestyle, and some other stress releasing therapies such as yoga and meditation.

Is children can have a mental breakdown?

Ans. Yes, children may have a mental breakdown problem. It usually affects and makes children not able to perform tasks such as going to school or playing.

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