What is Emotional Breakdown?

                                   “What is Emotional Breakdown?”

At some point in their lives, everyone experiences stress, but an emotional breakdown is different. Symptoms of a nervous breakdown may appear when pressure overwhelms an individual to the point where his/her career or personal well-being is jeopardized. A tragic family incident, excessive levels of stress at work, or a significant shift in a relationship are all frequent causes of emotional breakdowns. A person suffering from this psychological distress is unable to engage in their daily life at this point. Emotional breakdown is also known as mental or nervous breakdown, the latter being more accurate terms for this.

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What is it  Emotional Breakdown?

The word "emotional breakdown" is not an official term in clinical psychology, despite its widespread use. However, there are two separate definitions in popular language. First, an emotional breakdown is a term used to describe a mental illness. It is a socially acceptable means of concealing a more serious diagnosis and avoiding public ridicule. An emotional breakdown in this situation might refer to anxiety or panic attacks, a trauma disorder like post-traumatic stress disorder, or a psychotic disease like schizophrenia, all of which can have catastrophic implications if left untreated. A significant psychiatric illness is frequently not identified until a full mental breakdown has occurred.

Second, the word ‘emotional breakdown’ may be used to indicate a person's personal meltdown as a result of their inability to cope with their current circumstances. Uncontrollable crying, detachment from loved ones, and an inability to interact with normal life are all examples of this. 

While nonetheless distressing, the latter description is more easier to address and typically does not lead to serious consequences.

Signs of an Emotional Breakdown

Symptoms differ from one individual to the next. This is frequently related to the underlying problem. A person suffering from depression, anxiety, or acute stress disorder is commonly referred to as a "emotional breakdown." When you're having a nervous breakdown, you'll have physical, psychological, and behavioural symptoms. The signs and symptoms you experience might also be influenced by the underlying disorder. An emotional breakdown is an indicator that an individual is experiencing one or some/all of the following disorders:

  • Insomnia (trouble falling or staying asleep)
  • Hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or sensing something that isn’t there)
  • Emotional outbursts for no apparent reason, including anger.
  • Panic attacks (pounding heart, breathlessness, precipitating, anxiousness)
  • Depression (loss of hope, worthlessness, suicidal thoughts)
  • Anxiety
  • Excessive use of drugs or drug abuse, in order to cope with a stressful situation.
  • Dissociation (detachment from reality, and from the self or loss of sense of self)
  • Paranoia (suspiciousness, believing that others will harm)
  • Flashbacks of trauma (such as in the case of post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Isolation and withdrawal from family, friends, work, social circle.
  • Eating disorders
  • Since a nervous breakdown (emotional breakdown) is associated with an underlying disorder, emotional breakdowns have been described by a wide variety of symptoms:
  • Symptoms of anxiety like high blood pressure, nervous muscles, clammy hands, dizziness, sore stomach, and trembling or shaking
  • Depressive symptoms such as loss of hope and thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
  • Hallucinations 
  • Sleeplessness or insomnia.
  • Unprecedented mood swings or irrational outbursts
  • Panic episodes characterised by chest discomfort, a sense of disconnection from reality and self, acute dread, and trouble breathing.
  • Symptoms of untreated post-traumatic stress disorder including paranoia, such as the belief that someone is following or pursuing you, and memories of a horrific experience (PTSD)
  • People who are having a nervous breakdown may isolate themselves from their families, friends, and coworkers. Withdrawal includes avoiding social gatherings and interactions; inadequate eating and sleeping habits; poor hygiene; isolating oneself in the house by calling in ill for days or not showing up to work at all.
  • Physical symptoms of an emotional breakdown include:
  • Dizziness
  • Upset stomach
  • Muscular tension 
  • Chest tightness and/or discomfort 
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Sweatiness or precipitation
  • Clammy palms 
  • Tremor or shaking
  • Trouble breathing

It is the collapse of someone's healthy mental abilities, as the term "emotional breakdown" suggests. A person experiencing an emotional breakdown will experience excruciating stress symptoms. They will be unable to deal with life's problems. As a result, even the most mundane events, such as getting a letter asking them to renew their membership, might bring on streams of tears.

Causes of emotional breakdowns

The most typical reason is a lack of interest in life, whether it is professional or personal. Everyone is different, and no two people have had the same life experiences. However, several typical life situations have been seen to cause emotional breakdowns. A nervous breakdown can be caused by a variety of factors. It can be triggered by anything that causes severe tension. In general, feeling stressed and unable to cope with it might leave you feeling overwhelmed and unable to carry out your everyday activities.

There are a variety of circumstances that can cause a mental breakdown in an individual, but the most common cause is an accumulation of stress, pressure, and worry. One individual may have a gradual build-up of stress that leads to a breakdown over months, while another may have a single major stressful incident that leads to a breakdown. The following are some instances of stress and situations that might contribute to a nervous breakdown:

  • There are financial difficulties.
  • Divorce or relocating or any major life adjustments.
  • Workplace stress.
  • Personal stress, such as having to care for an ill or elderly family on a regular basis.
  • 5 Inability to relax and unwind.
  • 6 Sleep deprivation.
  • An injury that has a negative impact on one's quality of life.
  • Serious and/or long-standing medical issues.
  • A tragic event, such as the death of a loved one or being involved in or witnessing a terrible accident.
  • Depression
  • A distressing event, such as abuse
  • Academic duties and responsibilities and pressure
  • An emotional breakdown is more likely to occur in someone who has a family or personal history of anxiety disorders. This might be due to a lack of understanding on how to act appropriately to various situations in life. Many individuals are stressed, but not everyone will have a nervous breakdown as a result of it. An unwillingness or inadequate capacity to cope with and handle stress is what leads to a nervous breakdown during the experience of all that stress. The combination of a lot of stress and an inability to cope with it in a healthy way is what leads to nervous breakdowns. It's crucial to remember, though, that even those who are normally strong at handling stress might reach a breaking point.
  • Everyone manages and copes with stress in some manner, although not usually in a healthy way. Some people may withdraw from friends and family, resort to drugs or alcohol, rage at others, binge eat, or engage in other harmful behaviours in response to stress.

Ways to manage Emotional Breakdowns

Signs of an emotional breakdown should never be overlooked, regardless of the cause. Rarely is there a situation where a person suffering from such symptoms simply has to rest or relax. It's typically a bad situation that a person can't really get herself out of on his/her own strength or determination. An individual who is experiencing signs of a nervous breakdown may need reinforcement and encouragement. Recognizing their outstanding achievements in life – whether at work or with family and children – will make them appreciate their own importance and dignity in a society where they feel none. There are many things that people can do to prevent or heal from mental breakdowns.

  1. Regularly meditate. For certain people, meditation every morning has proved to be very helpful.

  2. To aid recovery, use breathing exercises.

  3. Take up a relaxing hobby like yoga or golf to relieve tension.

  4. Get daily massages or do other soothing activities such as turning off electronics, reading a book before bed, or soaking in a warm bath.

  5. 30 minutes of exercise five days a week is recommended. Even a short stroll in the woods will help lower blood pressure, increase heart rate, and boost the immune system.

  6. Be sure you have enough breaks at work, and have a practical to-do list.

  7. To avoid taking in too many at once, learn to say no.

  8. Be conscious and mindful, concentrating on one thing at a time.

  9. Consult a therapist to learn stress-reduction techniques and to discuss underlying problems.

  10. Avoid drinking and keep in mind that some drugs and caffeine will make you feel more stressed.

  11. Get at least seven hours of sleep.

  12. Consume a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

  13. Spend some time with your family and friends.

An inability to deal with vast quantities of stress is the root of a nervous breakdown, but how it manifests ranges from person to person. Workplace stress, mental illness, family obligations, and ineffective coping mechanisms may all contribute to a nervous breakdown. Fortunately, nervous breakdowns can be treated and managed.


  1. https://www.everydayhealth.com/emotional-health/recognizing-emotional-breakdown/

  2. https://www.tikvahlake.com/blog/warning-signs-of-an-emotional-breakdown/

  3. https://www.adventisthealth.org/blog/2020/march/how-to-navigate-an-emotional-breakdown/

  4. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/nervous-breakdown#symptoms

  5. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/signs-nervous-breakdown

  6. https://www.bridgestorecovery.com/nervous-breakdown/causes-nervous-breakdown/

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