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Recovery from a nervous breakdown

3-minute read

Following a nervous breakdown, a full recovery is possible. While not a medical term, people use this expression when referring to someone who is being overwhelmed by mental health issues. Treatment may include medicines and therapy, depending on the situation, the diagnosis, and the patient’s wishes.

Treatment may include counselling, while simple lifestyle changes can help deal with stress and anxiety. Working on your diet, exercise and sleep habits can help.

A healthy diet can improve energy levels, sleep habits and help to combat illness, and prevent you feeling low and tired. You might also remove stimulants from your diet, such as caffeine – this can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep.

Exercise can help many forms of temporary and long-term mental illness. Exercise can be used as a way to do something for yourself and can provide ’time-out’ from other pressures. Team sports or activities encourage socialising, which can reduce feelings of isolation, give your mood a boost and increase self-esteem. Physical fatigue may also improve sleep, which is essential to give you the energy to cope with day-to-day activities.

Learning relaxation , such as meditation or breathing exercises, might also help and can be practised when you feel your stress levels rising.

Get to know the signs that indicate you are struggling to cope. If you can recognise the signs of a nervous breakdown, then you can take action and ask for help before reaching breaking point.

In some cases, a nervous breakdown may indicate a more serious mental health issue, such as an anxiety disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in which case medicines and therapy may be required to aid recovery.

For more information and ideas to help cope with stress and aid recovery, learn about wellbeing or visit the following websites:

  • SANE Australia (people living with a mental illness) — call 1800 18 7263.
  • beyondblue (anyone feeling depressed or anxious) — call 1300 22 4636 or chat online.
  • Black Dog Institute (people affected by mood disorders) — online help.
  • Lifeline (anyone having a personal crisis) — call 13 11 14 or chat online.
  • Suicide Call Back Service (anyone thinking about suicide) — call 1300 659 467.

Not sure what to do next?

If you or someone you know are finding it difficult to manage mental health issues, try healthdirect’s Symptom checker and get advice on when to seek professional help.

The Symptom checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self-care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).


Mayo Clinic (Depression (Major depressive disorder)), beyondblue (Anxiety signs and symptoms), Healthline (How to recognize and treat the symptoms of a nervous breakdown)

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: August 2019

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