Humans are resilient creatures, or at the very least, they try to be. We’re known to bounce back from challenging situations and keep on going, even when it feels like the world is against us. However, we can only take so much and may not know that our mental health is affected. When this happens, an emotional breakdown could occur.

You’ve probably heard of the term at least once in your lifetime. An emotional breakdown is a mental health crisis characterized by feelings of overwhelming sadness, anxiety, or anger. It’s worth noting that it’s not a mental health condition but rather an umbrella term for symptoms that may occur due to a mental health condition. Handling an emotional breakdown is easier said than done, which many people often have difficulty with because they may drive away even the persons closest to them. For this reason, we’ll discuss the details in this article.

A Person’s Thoughts during an Emotional Breakdown

If a person experiences an emotional breakdown, they may think of at least one of the following:

  • “Everything is going wrong, and I can’t do anything.”
  • “I can’t fix it.”
  • “I’m not good enough.”
  • “I’m a failure.”
  • “I’m worthless.”
  • “Nobody likes me.”
  • “Life is too hard.”
  • “I can’t do this.”
  • “I give up.”

While these could be viewed as nothing more than intrusive thoughts, they can profoundly affect our lives if we let them. These negative thoughts can lead to negative emotions and behaviors. If we’re not careful, these negative thoughts can become a self-fulfilling prophecy and cause us to give up on our dreams and goals.

Emotional Symptoms

If a person experiences a breakdown, they may feel the following:

  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Sadness
  • Helplessness
  • Hopelessness

These emotions may be so overwhelming that they cause the person to withdraw from friends, family, and society. They may feel as if they are unable to cope with the world around them.

Physical Symptoms

Aside from emotional symptoms, the body also gets affected if a person experiences a breakdown. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Muscle pain
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Tremors
  • Nightmares

Since these symptoms affect the body, leaving them unchecked may affect your health in the long run.

So What Causes an Emotional Breakdown?

Any of the following usually causes an emotional breakdown:

  • Death in the family
  • Death of a friend
  • Family problems
  • Financial difficulties
  • Personal tragedy
  • Severe illness or injury
  • Discrimination
  • Work or school-related stress

Handling an Emotional Breakdown

Handling an emotional breakdown is easier said than done, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Here are a few tips on how to deal with an emotional breakdown:

Acknowledge It

The first step to dealing with an emotional breakdown is acknowledging that you’re going through one. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and sad from time to time. Don’t try to bottle up your emotions or pretend everything is okay when it’s not. Acknowledging your feelings is a critical step in managing them.

Talk to Someone

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talking to someone can help. Talk to a friend, family member, or any other person in your support system. Talking about what’s going on can help you feel better because the burden becomes lighter when shared with others.

Take a Break

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break from whatever is causing you stress. Step away from your desk for a few minutes if you’re at work. If you’re at home, take a break from your chores. Go for a walk, take a bath, or do something that will help you relax.

Prioritize Yourself

Self-care is important. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals, and exercising regularly. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others.

Seek Professional Help

Above all else, seek professional help if you’re feeling overwhelmed or like you’re not coping well.  A therapist can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms and work through your feelings.


An emotional breakdown is an unpleasant experience, but the only way to get through it is to take things one step at a time. Seek professional help if you’re feeling overwhelmed, and take care of yourself physically and emotionally. With time and effort, you will get through this challenging period.

If you need help with emotional regulation, Riverbend Life Strategies can help you! We understand that navigating life has challenges, so we’re here to ensure you’re not alone. Simply go to our website to schedule an appointment!