Mental Breakdown Warning Signs You Shouldn't Ignore

Over the past couple years, mental health has taken a front seat with regard to public health concerns. One of the biggest factors that comes into play when taking care of your mental health is paying attention to when you might be having a mental breakdown. Mental breakdowns can be caused by several variables — work, relationships, societal pressures, taking on too many responsibilities, social media, looming family stressors, and so much more. 


Fortunately, there are several signs that can signal the beginning of a mental breakdown. While it was originally believed that working through these signs was a characteristic of strength, it's now known that true strength lies in addressing mental issues head on. If you start to notice any of these signs in your daily life, it might be a good idea to consider which steps you should take next to avoid mental anguish.

Constant fatigue

Have you ever felt like you just can't get enough sleep? Does your lack of sleep leave you feeling sleepier than usual in the middle of the day? If this sounds like you, then you might want to think about everything you have going on in your life. It's possible that you're having a mental breakdown, or you're in the beginning stages of one. When you're in the middle of a mental breakdown, your brain is constantly going, making it harder for you to get the necessary rest you need to get from a good night's sleep. 


You might have a lot going on at work, in your relationship, or in some other area of your life causing you to feel worried about the future. There are certainly ways to combat constant fatigue, but the best thing to do is start addressing exactly what you've got going on in order to regain some of your control.


When you try to sleep, it's vital to get as mentally relaxed as possible. Imagine looking at the clock to see that it's the early hours of the morning, but you haven't been able to fall asleep yet. The frustration of wanting to sleep, but being unable to, is beyond aggravating. If insomnia has been haunting you, you might want to consider what's happening in your daily life — because it all might be too much. Not being able to sleep is a clear indication of a mental breakdown since it shows that your brain is constantly trying to figure out an action plan.


Having insomnia is one of the things you especially shouldn't ignore as a sign, as it's something that can start to creep into your everyday life and routine. Not getting the proper amount of sleep can cause your work to slip. It can also cause you to lose patience with your loved ones. If you start to feel like you aren't getting enough sleep at night, don't ignore the issue and start addressing what could be causing it.

Feeling like there's no way out

One of the worst stressors is feeling like you're stuck wherever you're at –– and believing there's nothing you can do about it. Fortunately, that's not always the case and there's usually always something that you can do about your situation. However, this is a clear sign that you might be experiencing a mental breakdown. Thinking you'll be unable to find a different job, romantic partner, living situation, or something else are brutal beliefs to grapple with. 


These aren't truths you have to live with forever, though. There'll usually always be steps you can take to get out of your current situation, but you have to remember that fact and tell yourself you can successfully do it. It's paramount to believe you can always level up from your present circumstances. Even small steps can make a difference. Major life improvements might not appear for you right away, but having faith that change is on the horizon might motivate you to be proactive in seeking that change. 

Feeling like you've hit rock bottom

When you feel like you've hit rock bottom, you often feel totally alone. It's easy to feel like you've got nothing to lose. There might be a sense that nothing matters in the world since you're feeling way too low to enjoy anything. You might even feel like you don't deserve good things coming your way. However, this can be flipped into one of the most positive things you can experience — because once you've hit rock bottom, the only place you can go from there is up. 


You should always remember that you deserve to succeed without staying stuck at rock bottom — but it certainly takes effort and work if you're up for the challenge. One of the biggest realizations is that it's only your rock bottom if you decide it's your rock bottom. And that decision is a massive step to take because it gives you back whatever power you feel you've lost. Once you know you're there, you can eventually show off your glow up. 

Confusion about what to do next

Have you ever wanted to do something so badly, but you had absolutely no idea where to start? Then once you figured it out, it just became overwhelming? These emotions are completely normal, but they're not something to ignore. These heavy emotions show you that you need to take a deep breath and realize that it'll all be okay. This is one of the easiest mental breakdown signs to gain control over since all it takes is asking for help from someone who's been in a similar situation. 


Odds are you know someone in your personal life who can relate to what you're dealing with. All you have to do is talk to them about it and get some dialogue going. Don't feel shy or start thinking you're imposing, either. Since they've been in the same situation as you before, they'd probably love to give advice to help you learn from their experiences.

Feeling like giving up

When you feel like you've tried everything but nothing ever works out, it's possible you're facing a mental breakdown. This isn't an immediate sign, but feeling like you need to give up before you normally would is a major hint of a mental breakdown. Fully giving up before you've even given yourself a real chance at something is connected to depression. As soon as you start feeling like giving up, prove everyone wrong (including yourself) and keep going. History has shown plenty of examples of people who decided to keep going as they continued working toward their goals and passions. 


For one, Oprah was once told she wasn't television material at the start of her career. That type of insult would cause most people to give up on their dreams. Obviously, Oprah kept going despite any outside doubts. You might not become someone like Oprah, but it's okay to take some inspiration from her. She was blatantly told she wouldn't make the cut for television, and somehow that didn't deter her. Keep in mind that the people who don't give up are the people who succeed in the long run. 

Extreme anxiety

One of the clearest and most obvious signs of a mental breakdown are intense feelings of extreme anxiety. All human beings experience anxiety in some form or another, but once true anxiety starts creeping into multiple areas of your life, you should really take notice and consider everything you have going on. In recent years, there has been a clear push toward acknowledging how problematic anxiety is –– and that it's perfectly okay to work through those emotions. 


It's not something to feel ashamed of — there are plenty of trained professionals and experts who can help alleviate your anxiety. Newly progressive thinking toward anxiety is one of the biggest perks of being alive in this generation. If you're feeling extreme anxiety, don't feel embarrassed about it. Lots of people (even people you know) are feeling the same things, and it becomes a lot easier when you talk to someone openly about it.

Panic attacks

That nauseous feeling you get — along with the sinking fear that you could pass out at any minute — is an obvious sign that something is seriously wrong. Panic attacks are a common issue for people who might be experiencing mental breakdowns. Whenever you're in the middle of a panic attack, make sure to sit down and take deep breaths. While you might not feel it in the heat of the moment, try to remember that everything will be okay. 


Unfortunately, we don't exactly know when a panic attack will come. That's why it's important to talk to someone after you have one to find the root cause of what happened. In doing this, you can try to ensure a scary panic attack doesn't happen to you again down the line. While it might seem obvious that a panic attack is a sign of a mental breakdown, it's still paramount to address it whenever it happens.  

Emotional eating

Eating your feelings away is never a good idea, as there can be serious health effects that come from this behavior. If you start noticing yourself neglecting your healthy eating habits, there's a chance you might be using food as a coping mechanism in the midst of a mental breakdown. This can lead to serious health problems. If you notice yourself starting to look different due to weight gain, acne breakouts, or bloating from emotional eating, it might drive you to continue to do the same pattern over and over. 


The truth is that binge-eating unhealthy items will only temporarily distract you from your worries. Before continually using eating as a coping mechanism, make sure you talk to someone about your struggle. Swapping out junky comfort foods for healthy options is a must. You'd be surprised at how much it improves your overall feelings when you're mainly consuming healthy food options. 

Emotional spending

Picking through shelves at a store or searching online boutiques might make you feel a tad better while you're going through a difficult experience. If you subconsciously believe a void can be filled by purchasing more fun and frilly items to distract yourself, you possibly need to take a step back before spending more money. Emotional spending is a very serious issue that is linked to mental breakdowns. In some of the worst cases, it can ruin you financially. 


There are clearly instances when buying something like a new shirt or makeup bundle can help you feel better. But if your feelings return to a highly negative place right after making purchases, that's your sign to stop. Instead, look at what you already own and pay attention to which items make you happy. If you spend time focused on everything you don't have, it will only continue to make you feel worse. Have gratitude for your belongings and you'll be surprised at how much better you start to feel.

Lack of exercise

If you're feeling extremely unmotivated to focus on your fitness and well-being, you might actually be approaching a mental breakdown. When you exercise, many different chemicals in your brain get released to make you feel like you're in a high vibration. During times that you're having a mental breakdown, you might not be thinking about how wonderful and thrilling a solid workout can be.


It might be challenging to ignore your feelings of procrastination, but it's in your best interest to get your body moving. Even something simple like walking on a treadmill for half an hour can help you start feeling amazing. If you don't have gym access, all you have to do is go outside for a brisk walk in your local area. You'll be getting two very important things by doing that: sun and exercise. Exercising can have an immediate impact on your mood and mental health. 

Staying in dark rooms

Preferring to stay in a dark room all day (consistently) is not a healthy desire. In fact, if you're feeling this way, you might be in the middle of a mental breakdown. Light does a lot for our mental health. This is why people who live in rainy, cloudy locations experience more depression than those who don't. Not getting enough light isn't great for your mental health and putting yourself in a dark room for long periods of time can be reflective on how you think your life is going. The worst part of all is that the more time you spend in the dark, the worse your depression and mental breakdown will become.


If your strongest desire is to lay down in a dark room away from any lights, you should fight back against the temptation. You can take a step outside to feel the fresh air and absorb some natural sunshine. Doing this will have an immediate impact on your mood and happiness. Don't ignore it if you're feeling overly tempted to cover your windows and keep your lights turned off. Try to get out and about because it will make a world of difference. 

Extreme mood swings

Flipping between happiness and anger isn't normal. If you notice that you're dealing with mood swings pretty often, you should address this problem with someone who can help. Not only is this a sign of a mental breakdown, but it also could impact your relationships with people who love you. It's not fair to those around you to feel like they have to walk on eggshells because of your mood swings.


When you're experiencing a mental breakdown, tons of feelings and emotions swirl through your brain at any given moment. This is why going from one mood to another so quickly is so common for those who are having one. Even if you don't want to talk to someone about your mood swings, you should be willing to do it for the people around you who have to interact with you. They'll undoubtedly be grateful to you for making an effort to change. 

Self-destructive behaviors

A mental breakdown can leave you feeling tempted to do things you think will make you feel better, even if it's just for a little while. These choices include binge-drinking alcohol and gambling. If you're not someone who usually wants to do these things, but all of the sudden you have a major pull to "let loose," you should stop and think about everything you have swirling around your mind that could be creating such temptations. 


Drinking and gambling responsibly is absolutely okay — but these behaviors become problematic when people start pulling out their life savings to play big at the roulette table, for instance, or they drink too much alcohol before getting behind the wheel of a car. Self-destructive choices that become habits won't make you feel better during a mental breakdown, and can even lead you down the path of addiction or premature death. 

Trouble concentrating

Everyone occasionally struggles with a wandering mind. Plenty of us have trouble sitting still and focusing for long periods — and this is fairly normal. However, if you can't sit still (for a minimum of 30 seconds) without getting jittery and antsy, that could be a sign you're having a mental breakdown. Not being able to focus on one thing for a short period is your brain telling you there's too much going on at one time. 


Talking to someone to narrow down what's really creating so many distractions can help clear up any confusion you're struggling with. Make sure you're trying your best to focus, even if you're only growing your focus times from 30 seconds to one minute. It might seem small, but it's still progress that will eventually pay off. 

Loss of appetite

Losing your appetite entirely is a clear sign that something is going wrong in your life. If you don't want to eat anything, you've probably got other things on your mind that are taking away from your desire to eat. One thing about eating is that it's something that you physically need to do. If not, sooner or later you'll get sick from depriving your body of the nutrients necessary for living healthfully. 


The stress of having a mental breakdown can trigger scary changes in your body that directly impact your digestive tract and stomach. When this happens, getting hungry might not come naturally anymore for a while. In the midst of a mental breakdown, try to at least eat something small. Choose a food that you enjoy, but don't cross the line of becoming too reliant on food to take you out of your emotional hole. A lost appetite might not seem like the biggest red flag, but it's reason enough to be concerned. 

Wanting to be alone

Pushing away your loved ones while you're going through a tough time is a huge mistake that too many people make. Your loved ones most likely want to help you get back on your feet. If you want to be alone, despite having a network of support, then you definitely might be having a mental breakdown. It's normal to want some alone time, but not all the time. People are social creatures who thrive in the light of social interactions. 


If you have no desire to be around other people for an extended period of time, that is a very bad sign of a mental breakdown. If you're in the boat of wanting to be alone all the time, leave your comfort zone for a moment and reach out to someone you trust. Odds are they won't be aware that something's wrong until you tell them. Just having someone there to talk to can be comforting enough to help you break free of your mental breakdown. 

Feeling alone

Feeling alone is one of the worst human experiences. Believing that nobody else can relate to your story or what you're going through can make it feel scary to talk to anyone. Loneliness will have you convinced that you'll never escape whatever situation you're in. Remembering that you're never truly alone is a big revelation. If you have friends, family members, and other loved ones in your life, odds are they want what's best for you. If you truly don't have any trusted connections with anyone, there are hotlines you can call and free crisis centers you can reach out to for help and support. 


When you're feeling utterly alone, reaching out to a professional is a smart move. A therapist can talk you through your situation and (with your dedication) help you feel more empowered. While it might feel weird to open up to a stranger at first, the key is to go in with an open mind and trust that they're capable of helping you. Keep in mind that mental health professionals get into their chosen industry because they have a desire to help people. 

Intense stress

Feeling stressed out is often due to the combination of multiple things. If your stress is starting to feel like something you can't overcome, then you're likely in the middle of a mental breakdown. When feeling stressed out, it's important to remember that you're much more powerful than you realize. Understanding that the sooner you deal with it and control it, the sooner you'll feel like your best self again. There are a lot of different ways to make your stress begin to dwindle. One of the easiest and most beneficial routes to take would be sitting down to talk to someone with candid honesty. 


Today, society doesn't have the same "power through and it'll all be okay" mindset that previous generations did. We know it's important to deal with our feelings as they come. Talking to someone, whoever they might be, is the best thing that you can possibly do for yourself. Keeping your thoughts and feelings bottled up won't do you any good. Try talking to someone about your mental breakdown stressors, and you'll potentially be amazed at the support you get in return.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.