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Am I having a nervous breakdown?

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I wanted to know if I am on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I don't have all the symptoms you have listed, but I do feel as if I'm losing control of myself!

This question was submitted by 'Denise'

mark tyrrell

Mark says...

Hi Denise and thank you for your question.

It's important to remember, as I say in the article you read, that the term 'nervous breakdown' isn't a proper diagnosis; it's a metaphor. We don't break down, but we can become exhausted through stress.

To quote from my own article:

A nervous breakdown really means the point of exhaustion reached after a prolonged period of anxiety (perhaps related to relationship, financial, health, or work worries; often a combination). The overwhelming anxiety, depression, and stress leads to a sense of overwhelm, helplessness, and utter exhaustion; a feeling of not being able to deal with life or even get out of bed.

Sometimes a one-off event such as a job loss or bereavement may be the catalyst for this build up of exhausting stress. On top of that stress, the person suffering the breakdown may have stopped sleeping and eating properly – both of which contribute to yet more exhaustion. Other symptoms of a nervous breakdown include:

  • Loss of interest in sex.
  • Loss of interest in food.
  • Loss of enjoyment in hobbies, work, and life generally.
  • Feelings of guilt. The sufferer may feel guilty or 'pathetic' for feeling this way - which, in turn, makes them feel even worse.
  • Feeling that even the smallest task is way too exhausting or difficult.
  • Feelings of aloneness.
  • Feelings of desperation.

A build up of stress can certainly lead to all or some of the above. Please remember that prolonged stress can make it harder to think clearly, sap energy and confidence, and give us the illusion that we have no control. Just as the stress of heavy intense exercise can make us so exhausted it can feel hard to control our muscles until we are properly rested, so too can a build up of stress.

If you work out so hard that you become exhausted for a while, it can feel like you have little control over your muscles. If I have sprinted hard to exhaustion, it can feel as if I can't even walk for a couple of minutes. It's a clear signal I need to rest so that control comes back. If you feel you are 'losing control', then what's really going on is that there is way too much stress and you feel overwhelmed. You can still think, you can still do all kinds of things, but you may need to cut yourself some slack and rest for a while.

Make sure you have good people to talk to and rest up as much as you can. Or at least take time out every day, even for 20 minutes, to physically and mentally relax so that you can get your sense of control back really fast. You could listen to the 'Overcome Your Nervous Breakdown Pack' to help revive your sense of control and energy.

Stress can make us feel 'crazy', powerless, hopeless, and of course frightened, but it is temporary and you can control and diminish it. You will come through this and return to normal.

All my best,


watch icon Published by Mark Tyrrell - May 7th, 2015 in

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