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7 Signs of a Nervous Breakdown

7 Signs of a Nervous Breakdown
From TIME - March 14, 2017

I am having a nervous breakdown. You may say this (or at least think it) when you are overwrought and ready to snap. But what is a nervous breakdown, exactly? And what should you do when you feel like you are about to fall apart?

It turns out that "nervous breakdown" is not a clinical term. And it's not considered a mental illness, says Erin Engle, PsyD, assistant professor of medical psychology in psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. But that does not mean it is not a serious issue. "[A nervous breakdown] is a situation in which a person cannot function normally because of overwhelming stress," Engle says.

That stressor can be anything from a bad break-up or money issues to grief or psychological burnout. The symptoms will vary from person to person. "Our bodies and minds respond to stress in different ways," Engle explains. But here are a few typical signs of a nervous breakdown:

Health.com: 12 Signs You May Have an Anxiety Disorder

Symptoms of anxiety and depression

"Anxiety and depression are common, common reactions [to stress]," says Engle. "Where you get into problems is when that stressor is ongoing and persistent, and the person's coping resources are overwhelmed." If you are headed for a nervous breakdown, you might feel weepy, or even experience episodes of uncontrollable crying, says Engle. Some people suddenly struggle with self-esteem and confidence. "Feeling guilt is a big one," she adds.

Sleeping too much, or not enough

A change in your sleep habits is another warning sign, says Engle. "Some people find that they go into sleep overdrive," she says. "Sleep becomes an escape." Others may develop insomnia because their brain is in overdrive. They may lay awake at night ruminating, she says, "mentally rehearsing situations over and over again that have no solution."

Health.com: 30 Sleep Hacks for the Most Restful Night Ever

Fatigue

Extreme tiredness could also be a clue you are stressed to the max. You might even feel weakness in your body, Engle says. Activities you previously handled with ease may become increasingly difficult. And things that used to bring you joy may lose their appeal. That includes sex, Engle adds. Loss of libido is commonly linked to stress.

Changes in appetite

Physical pain

Brain fog

Trouble breathing

What should you do if you have a breakdown?

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