Everyone experiences stress. In difficult situations, the ‘fight or flight mode’ activated by stress is what prepares you to face challenges and overcome them. But what happens when the amount of stress you feel gets out of hand? It could slowly and stealthily affect your life in ways you never imagined and wreck your physical and mental health in the process.
What exactly is a mental breakdown?
Everyone has moments of frustration, helplessness, or sorrow and even a good hearty cry once in a while.
But having a mental breakdown is much more than that—it is defined as “a period of intense emotional distress that affects your ability to complete day-to-day tasks”. Also known as a nervous breakdown, this condition is not medically recognized as a disorder or disease—but that does not undermine how serious it can be.
Signs and Symptoms:
1. Major Changes in Appetite.
One of the most common symptoms of mental stress is overeating or not eating enough.
Most people stress eat as a coping mechanism. After all, drowning your sorrows in a tub of ice-cream or binge-eating your favorite food sounds extremely tempting—but this can have serious and long-lasting effects. Why? Because the majority of the cravings are for unhealthy ‘comfort foods’ that taste good but aren’t nutritious.
On the other hand, experiencing a complete loss of appetite and eating too little can damage the overall health of the body weakening it and making it more vulnerable to disease.
2. Disturbed Sleep Schedule.
Do you find yourself unable to get up in the morning despite going to bed early, and hit that snooze button again and again? Or do you lie awake in bed at night for a long time, over-thinking past events and worrying about the future, with sleep nowhere near? Just like appetite, having a rocky relationship with sleep, sleeping too much or not enough, can be a sign of extreme stress.
3. Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression.
Anxiety and depression go hand in hand with stress. Having a mental breakdown could cause changes in your behavior that are commonly linked to anxiety and depression; such as frequent mood swings, worrying constantly, being angry and irritable, withdrawing from friends and family and low self-esteem.
Combined with crying often for no apparent reason and getting angry and irritable over insignificant things, all these symptoms could indicate that you are on the verge of a mental breakdown.
4. Trouble with Memory and Concentration.
If you are under constant stress, it could hijack the brain and make you unable to focus on simple everyday tasks and affect your ability to recall past events. If you struggle to remember things like what you ate for dinner yesterday, or what you wore the day before or even why you walked into a room—be aware that stress might be the cause.
5. Fatigue and Health problems.
As surprising as this is for many, it is proven that extreme distress and emotional turmoil can take a toll on you physically. This can present itself as frequent headaches and digestive issues, as well as fatigue, weakness and difficult breathing. Apart from stress, these symptoms could also be caused by an underlying health problem so make sure to consult a doctor and rule out any other possibilities.
If you can relate to most of these symptoms, chances are that you are overwhelmed with stress and have reached the metaphoric boiling point. Book an appointment with a licensed therapist to find ways to cope with emotional distress safely and effectively.