“Nervous breakdown” is a period when physical and emotional stress becomes too much for an individual to function in their everyday life. Along with being emotionally overwhelmed, you may feel hopeless, unable to cope with any challenges, have extreme mood swings, or experience thoughts of suicide (or self-harm). You may also experience physical symptoms like dizziness, insomnia, chest pain, difficulty in breathing, and high blood pressure during this period.
1. You Are Always Snacking
Heard of stress eating? It happens to most of us. Stress makes your brain think that you are in danger. In response, it releases certain hormones. Adrenaline is one such hormone that increases breathing, blood circulation, and carbohydrate metabolism. It basically prepares the muscles for exertion, ie. the “fight or flight”. Once the adrenaline wears off, the body will try to gain back some of the energy which was used during the period of stress. Energy is gained with food. If the stress did involve actual physical danger, you would have used the energy to run away, which would need replenishing. However, you probably wouldn’t have used the same kind of energy through physical activity when you are stressed, which means that you don’t actually need the additional food. This also means that all the food that your brain told your body to have will be stored in your body as fat without being used.
To make things worse, your brain will crave comfort food that is high in sugar and fat because it provides more pleasure chemicals. In effect, the brain will feel better, temporarily. Emotional eating is a very common way that we deal with stress. Now you know why you reach for the cookies after a stressful argument with a loved one.1
2. You Find It Difficult To Concentrate
When you are stressed, you may find a sudden increase in concentration and memory (the brain releases hormones that help with this). But this only happens for a short period. When you are stressed continuously over a long period of time, your ability to concentrate depletes. Your attention span gets affected which in turn affects your ability to focus on everything from work to things around you (making driving dangerous). In extreme cases, your memory can also be affected.2
3. Your Stomach Is Giving You Trouble
The hidden reasons for stomach aches and cramps are often found to be stress and anxiety. But if you find that you often have a combination of constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and gas, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) could be the culprit. Chronic stress is often a factor which leads to IBS.3 If you think that you may have IBS, consult a doctor to figure out if it is a physical problem or a mental one which is manifesting itself in the form of these physical issues.
4. You Can’t Stop Worrying About Things
Do you constantly feel like something bad is going to happen even though there are no signs which point to it? You may even feel like someone is watching you or stalking you all the time. When you are constantly worried, normal worries can be overwhelming and can lead to an emotional breakdown. An undiagnosed anxiety disorder may be the reason behind extreme paranoia. You should talk to your doctor if you find that your worries interrupt your social life or work.
5. You Stop Trying To Look Presentable
When you find that you never want to put in any effort into how you look anymore, it might be a sign of a bigger problem than just feeling lazy. No, we are not talking about the occasional off day where you just want to wear the comfiest, oldest t-shirt in your wardrobe to work. When the “don’t care” attitude about your appearance persists for long periods, it may be a sign of a forthcoming emotional breakdown.
Being stressed out takes a toll on your body and mind as it may drain your energy. Your lack of energy is often coupled with apathy, which if left unattended leads to you feeling unhappy and unmotivated.
6. You Feel Numb
Not feeling much of anything is one of the signs that you are on the cusp of a breakdown. You may stop wanting to socialize and go out of your way to not interact with others. Many people feel lonely even if they are among other people. You may also stop enjoying activities you used to enjoy earlier. For some people, this may manifest itself in the loss of interest in food and sex as well.
The signs pointing to an impending nervous breakdown may not always be obvious and is different for each person. There may be physical and emotional warning signs. If you find that you have one or more of these, and they last more than just a few days, then make sure that you consult with a doctor to figure out what is causing you stress and how you can manage it.
|↑1||Yau, Yvonne HC, and Marc N. Potenza. “Stress and eating behaviors.” Minerva endocrinologica 38, no. 3 (2013): 255.|
|↑2||Stress. University of Maryland Medical Center|
|↑3||Qin, Hong-Yan, Chung-Wah Cheng, Xu-Dong Tang, and Zhao-Xiang Bian. “Impact of psychological stress on irritable bowel syndrome.” World journal of gastroenterology: WJG 20, no. 39 (2014): 14126.|