Nervous Breakdowns

babylon counsellor Helen Rutherford on nervous breakdowns.

What is a nervous breakdown?

A nervous breakdown can also be known as a mental or emotional breakdown. It can be described as an acute psychological or emotional collapse. It is a period of poor mental health where an individual may feel they have reached an unmanageable point brought on by stress, anxiety or severe depression. It is a form of anxiety disorder where our anxiety reaches an unmanageable point. We all have a point where we feel we are unable to cope anymore and feel like we are falling apart. There is no shame in hitting this point as you may just be struggling with what life has thrown at you. If you feel you are at breaking point help is available and things can get better.


Many things can cause nervous breakdowns. There is always a trigger or a catalyst of experiences that can cause a nervous breakdown. Major life events such as the death of a loved one, relationship breakdown, abuse, work-related stress or financial difficulties are all factors which may contribute towards a breakdown. However, it can also be brought on by a gradual build-up of stress where an individual may feel completely overwhelmed by many aspects of their lives. This is the point where everything can feel unmanageable and individuals may find they are no longer able to function as they normally would.

Signs, symptoms and what it can feel like

Some of the signs to look out for if you feel you may be experiencing a nervous breakdown or are close to include:

  • Feeling that life is out of control
  • Feeling like you are “going crazy”
  • Feeling negative about everything
  • Feeling depressed
  • Feeling scared, worried and anxious
  • Feeling suicidal
  • Crying for no reason and becoming upset easily
  • Not feeling yourself
  • Being withdrawn and finding it hard to leave the house
  • Finding it hard to do the things you normally do
  • Experiencing incredibly intense and overwhelming feelings
  • Feeling completely helpless
  • Fearing that things will not get any better
  • Feeling fatigued and tired all the time
  • Feeling overwhelmingly stressed
  • Feeling tense and experiencing aches and pains
  • Experiencing increased internal chatter where your mind is never quiet
  • Dwelling on things It is important to seek help if you have been experiencing any of these symptoms for up to 2 weeks without any improvement.

You do not have to experience all of these symptoms to be having a nervous breakdown.

Treatment options

Talking therapy can provide individuals with a safe and confidential space in which to explore their thoughts and feelings.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may be offered to help manage any difficulties around anxiety. It can help to address negative thoughts and behaviours helping individuals to explore triggers and coping strategies. Cognitive behavioural therapy is a structured therapy which teaches individuals new skills to manage their difficulties.

Counselling is non-directive and can help individuals process their difficulties by talking through them. Experienced therapists can help individuals to understand and manage their problems as they gain a deeper understanding of themselves. It can help you clarify your thoughts and feelings in a supported environment. This can give you a new perspective and help you gain insight and recognise your own resourcefulness. Medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs may be prescribed to help you cope with the symptoms.

Where can i find support?

There are many ways of getting support for yourself or someone you know who is suffering from a nervous breakdown. It is advisable that the first step would be to talk to a GP, whether this is your GP or a babylon GP, they will be able to advise you and refer you to the best services.