Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Signs and symptoms of a nervous breakdown

3-minute read

There are many different signs that indicate a person may be experiencing a nervous breakdown. While not a medical term, people use this expression when referring to someone who is being overwhelmed by mental health issues.

Some signs relate to a person’s mental state and how they are feeling, or changes in personality. However, physical symptoms are also common. Signs vary from person to person, and can depend upon the underlying cause.

People who feel they are having a nervous breakdown can:

  • feel isolated — disinterested in the company of family and friends, or withdrawing from usual daily activities
  • feel unable to concentrate — difficulty focusing at work, and being easily distracted
  • be moody — feeling low or depression; feeling burnt out; emotional outbursts of uncontrollable anger, fear, helplessness or crying
  • feel depersonalised — not feeling like themselves or feeling detached from situations
  • have hallucinations — vivid flashbacks of a stressful or traumatic event can be associated with post-traumatic stress disorder — you should discuss any hallucinations or flashbacks with a doctor or counsellor
  • feel paranoid — believing someone is watching or stalking you
  • have thoughts of self-harm — if you have thoughts of self-harm, get professional help immediately

Physical symptoms can include:

People who are experiencing a nervous breakdown may avoid social functions, call in sick for work and isolate themselves at home. They may not be eating or sleeping properly, and they may not look after their personal hygiene.

If you are concerned that you or a loved one is experiencing a nervous breakdown, it is important to seek help and to see a doctor or counsellor.

Not sure what to do next?

If you or someone you know is 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).

Sources:

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


Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Work-life balance: tips for your family | Raising Children Network

A good work-life balance is good for your children and good for you. It can even help prevent burnout at work. Heres how to achieve work-life balance.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Chronic fatigue syndrome - Lab Tests Online AU

Site map of article content

Read more on Lab Tests Online AU website

Mental health for blokes

Sometimes you might be feeling stressed, anxious or angry, or just need to talk to someone. There are services that can help.

Read more on WA Health website

Mental wellbeing for men | MensLine Australia

Visit MensLine Australia for advice on how best to promote your mental well-being. Get support and help today. You are not isolated or alone.

Read more on MensLine Australia website

Emotional health and type 1 diabetes | Diabetes NSW & ACT

Your emotional health & wellbeing is important to your diabetes management. Find out more about managing your emotional wellbeing while living with diabetes.

Read more on Diabetes NSW and ACT website

Assessing support for clients at risk | SuicideLine

When dealing with a suicidal client, it is important to complete a risk assessment to determine the level of suicidal intent, plans and availability of means.

Read more on SuicideLine website

Recovering after a natural disaster

Recovering after a bushfire Natural disasters like bushfires, floods, cyclones, drought and other traumatic natural events are extremely challenging for the people directly affected

Read more on Lifeline website

Crisis Support

Crisis Support A crisis is someones personal reaction to an event or experience in their life they find hard to cope with

Read more on Lifeline website

Tool kit: Getting through floods, drought and extreme climate events

A self-help resource to help families dealing with floods, drought and extreme climate events

Read more on Lifeline website

Getting good sleep during the COVID-19 Pandemic

good sleep during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Read more on Sleep Health Foundation website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo