Nervous breakdown-What is mental breakdown or mental collapseand why does it happen?

Nervous breakdown - What is mental breakdown or mental collapse and why does it happen

What are the symptoms of a “nervous breakdown”? Can they be prevented? We tell you how to distinguish and stop them and what you can do so that they do not recur.

Nervous breakdown - What is mental breakdown or mental collapse and why does it happen

The mental breakdown, or “mental collapse” in Spanish, is not used clinically as a diagnosis.

“It is a terminology that defines when our mind is not calm and / or serene. All people, depending on our way of managing different situations and circumstances of life, emotions, acts and thoughts, we can collapse or mentally explode “, says Patricia Fernandez, a health psychologist.


The symptoms of mental breakdown go hand in hand with anxiety and stress. “It is very difficult to get to collapse mentally if you have not lived for a long time with anxious symptoms or exposure to stressors. If this happens it is necessary to put the brakes since it can lead to emotional derailment or blockage “, assures Fernandez.

According to the expert in health psychology, the most recurrent symptoms of mental collapse are:

  • The fatigue and mental fatigue.
  • Apathy and reluctance in the face of daily chores, lack of enthusiasm and / or motivation.
  • Rumination of thoughts with more negative than positive charge and constant worry about something concrete.
  • Experiencing unpleasant emotions such as anger, sadness, and frustration.
  • Difficulty getting to sleep.
  • Oscillations in weight, either from overeating or the feeling of a knot in the stomach that prevents appetite.


There is no linearity in life situations or in human beings. “There are moments in life in which depending on the coping style, personality and individual characteristics of each subject, the feeling of lack of control can appear”, declares Patricia Fernandez.

The feeling of being overloaded can happen due to the wrong management of situations and emotions. Pretending that all is well can cause the individual to suffer from episodes of extreme distress.

Fernandez states that: “A nervous breakdown or mental collapse may occur because it has not been known to give a refusal, because enough limits have not been set or because some people simply do not prioritize or listen to themselves. When this happens, head and the body say ‘enough’ “.

In today’s society, culturally, we live between lack of time, stress and immediacy. A clear example of “mental breakdown” is the one that Britney Spears lived years ago, where it was evident in some images shaving her hair and disoriented. Quite a few public figures and celebrities have come to talk about it and normalize it with the intention of helping other people who suffer from it daily.

Prince Harry spoke of his psychological and emotional problems after the death of his mother, Princess Diana, declaring: “It’s okay to suffer as long as you talk about it. It is not weakness. Weakness is having a problem and not coping with it. “.

“It is natural that anxious states arise in our organism. These transitory emotional episodes are even normalized as a ‘micro-crisis’ that can be controlled. The accumulated anxiety and stress, facilitate that, in the face of a specific trigger, either personal, work or relational, these nervous breakdowns occur “, says Natibel Romero, psychologist.

For Romero there are relevant factors in the face of mental breakdown, which should not be ignored:

  • The generation of unrealistic expectations.
  • The unresolved stressful situations that got stuck in the mind.
  • The constant idea of negative thoughts and rumination.
  • The valuation of ourselves as being able to face and overcome critical moments.
  • The emotional management to address the problems.


It is essential to know the indicators (physical or mental) or symptoms of crisis, as well as to detect the sensations prior to this and the risk factors. According to the professional Natibel Romero, it can be very helpful to follow these steps:

  1. Get away from the place where the symptoms were triggered and put away the negative.
  2. Control your thoughts. Repeating to yourself that it is something known that usually happens.
  3. Use your breath: Although it may seem like you are short of breath, paying attention does become noticeable and reassuring.
  4. Close your eyes, in this way external stimuli are eliminated and the center is the breath.
  5. Say aloud that the crisis has been overcome on previous occasions and that it will be achieved again.


Finally, Romero offers some keys with the intention of avoiding possible new episodes of mental collapse:

  • Avoid rumination of negative thoughts, accept them and leave them.
  • Trust in the strength and capacity for personal improvement.
  • Promote positive qualities.
  • Stop and dedicate time to yourself, to listen to yourself and understand those aspects that are not going quite well. Work on it and try to transform or eliminate it.
  • Learn some relaxation technique. Practice mindful breathing, mindfulness, or meditation.
  • Know the vulnerable points.
  • Avoid judgments and demands on yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others.
  • Live in the present day.
  • Practice self-care.
  • Practice healthy habits:
    • Set limits.
    • Eat healthily and in a mindful way (stop caffeine, eliminate foods high in tryptophan, alcohol, or excess fat)
    • Play sports regularly
    • Sleep well.
  • Maintain a good relationship with family and friends, lean on them or ask for help.
  • Seek professional help.


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