A nervous breakdown is a situation in which a person cannot function normally because of overwhelming stress.

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Anxiety or depression

Anxiety and depression are common, common reactions [to stress]. Where you get into problems is when that stressor is ongoing and persistent, and the person’s coping resources are overwhelmed.If you’re headed for a nervous breakdown, you might feel weepy, or even experience episodes of uncontrollable crying. Some people suddenly struggle with self-esteem and confidence. Feeling guilt is a big one.

Sleeping too much or not enough

A change in your sleep habits is another warning sign. Some people find that they go into sleep overdrive. Sleep becomes an escape.Others may develop insomnia because their brain is in overdrive. They may lay awake at night ruminating, mentally rehearsing situations over and over again that have no solution.


Extreme tiredness could also be a clue you’re stressed to the max. You might even feel weakness in your body. Activities you previously handled with ease may become increasingly difficult. And things that used to bring you joy may lose their appeal. That includes sex. Loss of libido is commonly linked to stress.

Changes in appetite

Maybe you’re not eating, or conversely, you might be overeating. Research published in 2019 in Physiology and Behavior confirmed that the stress hormone cortisol can trigger cravings for high-fat, high-sugar foods. What’s more, when you’re in the middle of a breakdown, you may be less motivated to prep healthy meals. There’s less ability to care for oneself in the way one typically would.

Physical discomfort

Discomfort, like headaches or stomachaches, can be signs of a nervous breakdown. For some people, there might be a GI component, such as diarrhea or constipation. A 2019 review in Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences verified that it’s no secret that stress can do a number on your gut. And a large research study published in 2015 in The Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility stated that stress is known to cause a variety of problems with digestion.


Brain fog

Are you having trouble concentrating? Or just feel like you’re not thinking clearly? There are often cognitive symptoms with a nervous breakdown, Engle said, which might include anything from difficulty with problem-solving and indecisiveness to a sense of disorientation and memory loss.

Trouble breathing

Keep an eye out for classic signs of a panic attack too. According to a 2022 review published in The Irish Journal of Medical Science, this can include tightness in your chest and rapid breathing. Research published in 2022 in The Journal of Physical Therapy Science noted that breathing exercises designed to slow down your breath can provide fast relief. But if you experience severe trouble breathing or if it happens on a regular basis, it’s important to address the root of the problem.



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