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What is a nervous breakdown?

On Behalf of | Sep 13, 2021 | Social Security Disability

A nervous breakdown is the layman’s term for what happens when you become so overwhelmed by stress or other pressure that you can no longer function normally in your everyday life.

The Mayo Clinic explains that nervous breakdown signs and symptoms vary widely from person to person and situation to situation. For instance, any or all of the following can signal a nervous breakdown:

  • You cannot work and therefore must call in sick for several days or longer.
  • You miss appointments.
  • You avoid your normal social engagements.
  • You have trouble sleeping or sleep too much.
  • You lose your appetite or eat too much.
  • You neglect your personal hygiene.

Nervous breakdown causes

Common nervous breakdown causes include the following:

  • Continuing stress at work, i.e., burnout or harassment
  • Financial problems
  • A sudden tragedy, such as the death of a spouse, child, parent or another close family member
  • A major life change, such as a divorce
  • Domestic violence

Nervous breakdown treatment

Just because a nervous breakdown is not a medical term of art does not mean that it is not real. It is. You should therefore talk to your doctor if your nervous breakdown symptoms persist for a week or more. He or she may refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist for your emotional or mental distress and treat you himself or herself for your physical manifestations.

For instance, he or she may recommend an exercise or physical therapy program. Or he or she may prescribe a mild antidepressant. anti-anxiety medication or sleep enhancement medication to help you “even out” and avoid panic attacks and other forms of acute distress.