15 Mental Breakdown Symptoms: Are You on the Edge?

Aaarrgh! If you’re experiencing what we might call a mental breakdown (symptoms listed below), consider our advice for getting help.

mental breakdown symptoms

Mental breakdown symptoms—see 15 of them listed in our lead story—can have you feeling on the edge.

© Erba78 | Dreamstime

When people are suffering from a mental illness such as depression or anxiety, they often ask themselves, “Am I having a mental breakdown?” Intense, negative feelings and any number of mental breakdown symptoms can make you feel like you’re losing control.

The truth is that, for better or worse, most people are able to tolerate the drudgery of feeling “pretty awful” for a long period of time without there being any real danger of losing control, doing something “crazy,” “going mad,” or “breaking down.” In fact, the feeling that you might be going crazy or are about to lose control is actually a common symptom of anxiety or depression. So, be assured that there are millions of people out there who, like you, feel as if their brains might just melt out of their ears one day.

That said, there are warning signs that can suggest you’re headed for a mental breakdown.

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What Is a Mental Breakdown? Symptoms Tell the Story

Keep in mind that the phrase “mental breakdown” is not a medical term or official diagnosis. It has no clear-cut diagnostic criteria. There are no tests or checklists that can determine conclusively whether you’re experiencing one. The expression simply means that you’re suffering or struggling enough that you feel as if you’re getting closer and closer to a point where you cannot go on.

In extreme cases, mental breakdown symptoms might mean you’re feeling suicidal. It might be that you’re getting angrier and angrier, and perhaps afraid you might actually hurt someone. You could be losing touch with reality. You might feel that the responsibilities of daily living—getting up, getting dressed, eating, and going to work or taking care of your children or family members—are simply not possible anymore. You also might be dealing with stresses such as an illness (or an illness in a loved one) that you simply cannot face anymore. Under such circumstances, it’s time to seek help.

Mental Breakdown Symptoms: 15 to Consider

Here are 15 signs that you might be close to the edge:

  1. Someone has expressed concern that you’re behaving strangely or self-destructively.
  2. Your body seems to be no longer able to function properly.
  3. You can no longer face basic responsibilities, such as caring for a child or parent who depends on you.
  4. You have great difficulty getting out of bed.
  5. You’re afraid you won’t be able to control your temper and might do something destructive or dangerous or hurt someone.
  6. You feel completely without hope.
  7. You feel overwhelmed most or all of the time.
  8. You’re having negative feelings—such as loneliness, pain, or anxiety—that begin to feel unbearable.
  9. You’re increasingly concerned that people are out to get you.
  10. You’re no longer able to maintain a safe place to live or to get enough food to eat.
  11. You’re resorting more and more to drugs or alcohol just to get through the day.
  12. You’re experiencing frequent mood swings.
  13. You frequently feel restless and agitated.
  14. You’re starting to hear or see things that are not there.
  15. You’re thinking about harming yourself or someone else.

If any of the above apply to you, set up an appointment with your doctor to discuss troubling issues. You can also try talking with a trusted friend or a member of the clergy. If you’re really on the edge and need help immediately, go to the emergency room of your local hospital, call 911, or call a suicide hotline such as 800-273-TALK or 800-SUICIDE.

The Breaking Point

It’s important to recognize that having mental breakdown symptoms is not a sign of weakness. The human spirit can take only so much stress, anxiety, and pressure before it falters. Everyone has his or her breaking point; often, we don’t even know what that point is unless we are tested.

For some of us, dropping out of school and losing the support of our parents can be enough to send us over the edge. Others may appear almost superhuman, taking care of children, parents, or other vulnerable people while holding down a full-time job and living with a chronic disease. The point is not to compare. If you feel like you can’t take things the way they are anymore, reach out for help.


Besides contacting a professional for help in heading off that “mental breakdown,” you can commit to reducing stress and anxiety in your life. These posts offer proven strategies for doing just that:

See also this page from the U.S. National Library of Medicine and this one from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Originally published in 2017, this post is regularly updated.



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  • Just wondering, even predicting mental breakdown for Trump.

  • Yeah im there and this is the first one in my life… It came on without warning and then lost 5 pounds already – slept for 4 hours in 4 days.. I’m so lost and lost everything do to this breakdown – Problem I face is everyone seems to forget about me in this time of need even those I loved. Maybe its my fault – but i did so many good things over the year for those people all I got in return was attacks or misunderstanding. My eyes were bloodshot red the other day and tears came out, but i could not feel what the emotion was – when you cry you know your sad – when your angry you know your angry- with me right now I have no clue where my emotions are. Confused state of panic and loss…. I refuse to take drugs for it and im not violent or going to hurt anyone. I just feel lost and for the last 4 days unable to find myself in this time. I can’t stand how this feels — and it does not help that im alone without the one I loved.

    Hope this goes away soon — its way too punishing on my body and mind. 😢I can say without a doubt I now know what a mental breakdown is – Horrible feeling.

  • Joshua, four months ago I was where you are. This mental breakdown came without a warning, and had all the physical symptoms. I suffered a week and I realized I’m not getting better. I desperately needed to see a doctor, but fearful they will get me drugged up with medication. I met a friend whose on antidepressants and urged me to take doctors advised to get on meds. My friend advised me to start at the lowest dose. So I discussed with my doctor about how much meds to take because I don’t drink or smoke and therefore my body is very sensitive. I was prescribed Xanax at 2.5 mg which I cut in fourths. So I took 1/4 every 8 hours. Then a few weeks later, I started on buspar, an anti anxiety med with low side effects and currently taking that 2.5 mg every 12 hours. I know longer need the Xanax because the buspar is doing a great. I’ll tell you what, I have four kids who depend on me and these meds are a crutch for now until I start doing the hard work mentally in which I see a counselor every 2 weeks. I see this as a learning experience, like i need to reevaluate my life. Something is telling me to slow down, so in a way its a blessing in disguise. I hope you find peace within.

  • Christina

    When i am alone I start getting angry. I even rehearse what I would say to people I have hurt and stabbing them after. or i fantasize about taking someones organs out. Ill punch walls and pillows imagining it being them. I have been doing this since I was 9yrs old I dont know why its like the anger of them hurting me comes back in my head and replays over and over. It is starting to get harder to hold it all in and I can feel myself getting angrier.

  • Chandra J.

    Hi Christina, thank you for sharing your thoughts. We hope that you’re able to reach out to a mental health professional as soon as possible so that you can address these issues. Good luck.

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I thought you might be interested in this article on https://universityhealthnews.com: 15 Mental Breakdown Symptoms: Are You on the Edge?

-- Read the story at https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/stress-anxiety/mental-breakdown-symptoms-are-you-on-the-edge/