The Importance of Breakdowns

The Importance of Breakdowns

Have you ever seen a moment in a television show or movie where a character breaks down sobbing and they’re met with another character who tells them to ‘just let it out’? As described in a previous article on the importance of self-care, it’s vital to take care of yourself emotionally. Having a minor breakdown is devastating however it can be healing. They can provide moments of clarity, understanding and more importantly acceptance. Although, it is necessary to understand the mental breakdown signs and what help is available to you should you feel yourself slipping. Help is always available and it’s there for everyone.

What Is A Mental Breakdown?

A full-blown mental breakdown causes a person to be so overwhelmed by stress that they are unable to continue as normal. Despite not being recognised as a mental disorder a breakdown can often lead to the identification of an underlying mental health condition.

Image from Spike Now

A mental breakdown can be a defining moment in someone’s life. Nevertheless, a breakdown is a devastating thing to experience yet the important thing to do is to learn from it. Why it may happen, what can cause it, how do you stop it from happening again etc. The most important piece of information to use or to pass on is details of the mental health services available. It is also practical to understand what signs you, or someone else, can exhibit when on your way to a breakdown.

What Does A Mental Breakdown Look Like?

What a breakdown looks like can vary from person to person. Although, there are several prominent mental breakdown signs that a person can show. These include:

  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Lack of sleep or too much of it
  • Low concentration
  • Paranoia
  • Severe mood swings
  • Reduced appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Digestive trouble

These signs can be slow-forming, in which a pending breakdown may be more severe or drawn out. Sometimes it can come out of nowhere and feel like an emotional punch to the chest. Either way, identifying them can prevent yourself or someone else from falling deeper down the rabbit hole.

How Long Can A Mental Breakdown Last?

Recovering is not simply a straight path. A mental breakdown can leave fear and doubt in its wake before allowing someone to emerge stronger and better. There are bound to be relapses and moments where the negative emotions tighten their grip. This just means that the journey may be a little longer. The important thing is that support and recovery are still pursued.

How long a breakdown can last, varies between individuals. Mainly, it heavily depends on how long it may have been pending and how it is treated. The sooner help is sought the quicker the recovery process will be. It’s worth noting that mental health help has different variations. Some are sceptical to try and seek help from a mental health professional – but there are other avenues to take. This may include exercise, practising healthier sleeping habits, or simply taking yourself away from toxic environments.

Of course, rest is a huge factor in recovering. Giving yourself a break can detangle all of the clutter you’ve kept stuffed inside your head. It’s a simple solution but many find themselves unable to do this. Sometimes all someone knows is a hectic schedule so sitting and doing nothing is out of the question. Yet it’s so vital to take the time to stop and let the world go by.

What Can Cause A Mental Breakdown?

There are a lot of things that can lead to a breakdown. Generally, a breakdown occurs when someone is exposed to a number of things that are damaging to their mental wellbeing. This could include work stress, relationship stress, trauma, bullying, worldwide pandemics, and so much more. These can eventually weigh a person down if they are not equipped with healthy coping mechanisms.

Image from Cedars Sinai

There is a lot of stigma surrounding mental health issues worldwide. Due to this, people can overlook their issues and symptoms of mental illness seeing them as embarrassing or fictional. This, piled greatly on top of everything else, can only worsen a breakdown. So it’s vital to increase mental health awareness and decrease discrimination.

What Are The Five Stages Of Burnout?

Being able to identify the signs of a breakdown can save you so much damage and stress in the future. In total there are 12 signs of burnout recognised by healthcare professionals. However, below are the five biggest factors that push the hardest toward burnout. Just to add: the remaining seven do fall under these categories.

  • Enthusiasm & Ambition
  • Neglecting your own needs
  • Isolating yourself
  • Anxiety/depression or severe stress
  • Mental/physical disintegration
A breakdown or burnout is slow burning. It isn’t necessarily a single moment. Image from Kern Wellness Counselling

As such, burnout will look like this: Initially, excitement and ambition will motivate someone to apply themselves wholeheartedly to something. This isn’t a bad thing, at first. However, it is important not to push yourself too hard and try to find your boundaries. Pushing too hard can be the downfall which will lead to neglecting your personal and social needs to pursue your goal. Eventually, this can alter your habits, which will lead to anxiety or depression which are much more difficult to handle.

Is Crying A Sign Of A Nervous Breakdown?

Crying certainly factors into a breakdown. During the stages before a breakdown, a person can suffer extreme mood swings. In which they can become anxious or depressed. As a result, your emotions can push you to tears. Excessive crying or uncontrollable crying can be a direct sign of experiencing a breakdown.

Everybody cries – just not everyone admits to it. It’s not always a symptom of a mental disorder or an oncoming breakdown. Crying is often a good way to let out frustration after a difficult situation. It can feel relieving to let out tears.

What To Do If Someone Is Having A Mental Breakdown

The best way to recognise if someone is, or about to, experience a mental breakdown is to take the signs listed above into account. If they are exhibiting any of these symptoms it is important they have a strong support network and get the mental health help they need. Fortunately, there are a great number of services available to anybody looking into helping someone through a breakdown.

First of all, it may be worth taking a look at the options provided by Mind. This website offers assistance to those who are looking to support someone showing extreme signs. Mind provides links to other pages specifically revolving around specific symptoms in case one sign is more apparent than others.

Your GP can also recommend and refer someone to a counselling service available in the area. Whether it is a general counselling service or one that specialises in treating trauma or disorders.

using tech to help when having a breakdown
Technology can be useful too. Image from Mic

Furthermore, it is always worth looking at the mental health apps available. The NHS website has a great list of apps for all people of all backgrounds. This includes apps that will assist in handling anxiety and stress, positive mood-enhancing music, preventing the urge to self-harm, student help, coping with trauma and so many more.

Why Having a Breakdown Doesn’t Mean You’re A Failure

A breakdown does not *I repeat* does not mean you are a failure. The important thing is that you understand where your boundaries are and that you should respect them. How are you expected to function as an adult if you don’t take the time to look after yourself?

Moments of weakness are inevitable. Mistakes are bound to happen. But Failure is an opportunity to learn and improve yourself. The important thing after a breakdown is to learn. What happened to get you to breaking point? How can I make sure it doesn’t happen again?

Failure is success if we learn from it

Malcolm Forbes

The Importance Of Having A Minor Breakdown

I’m not wishing a breakdown on anybody. It’s beyond difficult and can make a person stop functioning entirely for any amount of time. Yet there are silver linings to experiencing a mental break.

A breakdown can be the wake-up call you needed to change your life for the better. They signify that you weren’t happy with where you were and that something needed to change. Once you’ve identified the things that lead to the breakdown you can start to heal and move forward. You can find healthier ways of coping and improve your mindset. Also, you can cut loose all of the things that had a negative grip and influence on your progression and ambitions. Finally, you can pursue whatever you want with your newfound clarity so long as you learn from the experience. Whether it’s a new relationship, job, hobby or lifestyle.

One thing I learned:

Everything is temporary. Every problem. All bad thoughts. Every issue. So long as I have a positive mindset, persistence, and a willingness to learn I can overcome pretty much most things.



Alexandra (or Allie as she sometimes prefers) is an introverted, socially awkward nerdy girl with an intense love of fiction in all genres. Films, television, books and video games occupy a big portion of her life as she was raised to cherish and appreciate the art of storytelling.

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