Everyone goes through periods of feeling stressed or even a little overwhelmed at times. An emotional breakdown is another matter entirely and it’s not something you should be expected to just snap out of.
The best way to deal with an emotional breakdown is to know the signs and develop techniques to help you get through them.
The term ‘emotional breakdown’ can actually be used to refer to two different things. In the first instance, it can mean that someone is having an adverse reaction to an immediate situation. That can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed as well as other common signs of emotional distress.
In the second instance, an emotional breakdown may be the first symptom of a mental health disorder. For example, persons who experience a breakdown may have a panic disorder, schizophrenia, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
When someone experiences a breakdown, doctors recommend consulting with a mental health professional. Even if it’s a one-off situation, it can’t hurt to be sure.
Typical Signs of an Emotional Breakdown
An emotional breakdown can be accompanied by panic attacks, emotional outbursts, or periods of anxiety. Most times, however, the signs are persistent as opposed to a single event. Persons who are having a breakdown may:
- Show significant changes in their eating habits
- Sleep too little or too much
- Have feelings of hopelessness
- Start pulling away from others and resist social interaction
- Experience unexplained aches or pains
- Have little energy
- Unexplained feelings of guilt
- Worry obsessively
- Have thoughts about hurting themselves or others
- Have difficulty adjusting to changes at work or home
- Start abusing drugs, alcohol, or prescription medications
- Crying spells
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Chronic fatigue
The symptoms may look slightly different in children as they may start to have conflicts with others.
Causes of an Emotional Breakdown
While numerous situations can cause an emotional breakdown, the most likely trigger is a traumatic event or significant change in the personal environment. Persons who have already been through trauma such as an assault, horrific accident, or combat can be prone to a breakdown. This is especially true if they are exposed to a trigger or a situation that mimics their trauma.