7 Signs You’re Headed for a Nervous Breakdown
“Nervous breakdown” isn’t an actual medical term or a mental illness, but it could indicate a serious health problem like anxiety or depression.
I’m having a nervous breakdown. You may utter this (or at least think it) when you’re overwrought and ready to snap. But what is a nervous breakdown, exactly? And what should you do when you feel like you’re about to fall apart?
It turns out “nervous breakdown” isn’t a clinical term. And it’s not considered a mental illness, says Erin Engle, PsyD, assistant professor of medical psychology in psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a serious issue. “[A nervous breakdown] is a situation in which a person cannot function normally because of overwhelming stress,” Engle says.
That stressor can be anything from a bad break-up or money issues to grief or psychological burnout. The symptoms will vary from person to person. “Our bodies and minds respond to stress in different ways,” Engle explains. But here are a few typical signs of a nervous breakdown:
1. Symptoms of anxiety and depression
“Anxiety and depression are common, common reactions [to stress],” says Engle. “Where you get into problems is when that stressor is ongoing and persistent, and the person’s coping resources are overwhelmed.” If you’re headed for a nervous breakdown, you might feel weepy, or even experience episodes of uncontrollable crying, says Engle. Some people suddenly struggle with self-esteem and confidence. “Feeling guilt is a big one,” she adds.
2. Sleeping too much, or not enough
A change in your sleep habits is another warning sign, says Engle. “Some people find that they go into sleep overdrive,” she says. “Sleep becomes an escape.” Others may develop insomnia because their brain is in overdrive. They may lay awake at night ruminating, she says, “mentally rehearsing situations over and over again that have no solution.”
Extreme tiredness could also be a clue you’re stressed to the max. You might even feel weakness in your body, Engle says. Activities you previously handled with ease may become increasingly difficult. And things that used to bring you joy may lose their appeal. That includes sex, Engle adds. Loss of libido is commonly linked to stress.
4. Changes in appetite
“Maybe you’re not eating, or conversely, you might be overeating,” says Engle. The stress hormone cortisol can trigger cravings for high-fat, high-sugar foods. What’s more, when you’re in the middle of a breakdown, you may be less motivated to prep healthy meals. “There’s less ability to care for oneself in the way one typically would,” says Engle.
5. Physical pain
Think headaches, or stomachaches. “For some people there might be a GI component,” says Engle, such as diarrhea or constipation. It’s no secret stress can do a number on your gut. It’s known to cause a variety of problems with digestion.
6. Brain fog
Are you having trouble concentrating? Or just feel like you’re not thinking clearly? There are often cognitive symptoms with a nervous breakdown, says Engle, which might include anything from difficulty with problem-solving and indecisiveness to a sense of disorientation and memory loss.
7. Trouble breathing
Keep an eye out for classic signs of anxiety too, such as tightness in your chest and rapid breathing. Taking quick, shallow breaths can ramp up the body’s stress response even more. A breathing exercise designed to slow down your breath can provide fast relief. But if you experience trouble breathing on a regular basis, it’s important to address the root of the problem.
Ok, so you might be having a breakdown. What next?
Now is the time to prioritize self-care. Engage in healthy coping mechanisms that work for you. (Maybe exercise helps you blow off steam, for example, or your favorite hobby helps you unwind.) Talk with family members or friends you trust. And don’t be afraid to seek professional help: “I always encourage someone to seek out the chance to speak with, or meet with, either a therapist, a psychologist or a social worker—but a licensed mental health professional,” Engle says. “Going to get help is one of the most important things you can do.”
See also: Food-poisoning Expert Reveals 9 Things He Refuses To Eat.
Some foods are more associated with illnesses than others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But these foods are the worst, according to experts, who either take extra precautions, or avoid them altogether.
1. Raw shellfish
Oysters and other filter-feeding shellfish can contain viruses and bacteria. Raw or undercooked oysters can contain Vibrio bacteria, which can lead to an infection called vibriosis. Oysters harvested from contaminated waters can contain norovirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea. To avoid food poisoning, cook your seafood.
2. Undercooked meat
The number one source of food poisoning is undercooked meat. “Most raw poultry contains Campylobacter. It also may contain Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, and other bacteria. Raw meat may contain Salmonella, E. coli, Yersinia, and other bacteria,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thoroughly cooking poultry and meat will destroy the bacteria, but you can’t tell if meat is properly cooked just by looking. Always use a meat thermometer and cook food to a safe internal temperature. Use this guide to find the right temperature for each type of meat, poultry and seafood.
3. Raw (unpasteurized) milk
Raw milk can carry harmful bacteria that can make you very sick. They include Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella. Although liseriosis (the infection caused by Listeria) is rare, pregnant women are less capable of fighting it off, which means that it can be more deadly in pregnant women. In addition, it’s possible for the unborn baby to become ill as well. Older adults and people that have a compromised immune system are also in greater danger than the general population.
It’s best, therefore, for everyone to drink pasteurized milk. For those at greater risk, take the extra precaution of not eating any dairy products made from unpasteurized milk (raw cheeses, for example).
4. Leftover meat
Just because you cooked it once doesn’t mean it’s safe after it’s been relegated to leftovers. Leftovers should be refrigerated at 40°F or colder within 2 hours after preparation. Large cuts of meat, such as roasts or a whole turkey, should be divided into smaller quantities for refrigeration so they’ll cool quickly enough to prevent bacteria from growing. If you haven’t taken these precautions, when you use your leftovers in any of these leftovers recipes, you will need to cook your meat to the internal temperatures listed here. And please remember that when you use leftover meat in a cold salad, the same rule applies.
5. Raw sprouts
Wait, what? Aren’t sprouts like the ultimate health food? Yes, but, no. Sprouts are grown in warm, wet conditions, which makes them basically a petri dish for germs (including Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria). Thoroughly cooking sprouts kills the harmful germs. So, if you don’t totally LOVE sprouts, think about cooking them rather than serving them raw on your sandwiches and salads.
6. Canned foods
If your canned food is deeply dented, don’t eat it, advises the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, “A deep dent is one that you can lay your finger into. Deep dents often have sharp points.” A sharp dent on either the top or side seam can damage the seam and allow bacteria to enter the can, and you don’t want that.
7. Raw eggs
Eggs can contain Salmonella even if the egg looks clean and is uncracked. To avoid getting sick, cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm. Cook foods containing eggs thoroughly. Keep your eggs at 40°F or colder, and don’t eat raw cookie dough or cake batter.
Notice how even our traditional eggnog recipe uses eggs that have been heated to a safe temperature (but not scrambled, we promise).
8. Unwashed fruits and veggies
Eating fresh produce provides important health benefits, but sometimes raw fruits and vegetables may contain Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, and other bacteria. Contamination can occur anytime from the farm right to the table, including via cross-contamination in your own kitchen. So always wash your produce carefully. If your immune system is compromised for any reason (for example, if you’re undergoing chemotherapy, or you’ve recently had surgery), then wash them at least twice before eating. Here are four ways to wash the goodies you bring home from the farmer’s market.
By the way, this is true for fruits with peels as well, according to Registered Dietitian, Jodi Danen. That’s because you’re either touching the peel with your fingers or cutting through the peel, thereby cross-contaminating the flesh with germs from the peel. In addition, Danen points out that once fruits and veggies are sliced, they must be refrigerated within a four-hour window to prevent bacterial growth.
9. Raw flour
You’re probably thinking, “Ew! Why would I ever eat raw flour?” Hello, cookie dough? Harmful germs can contaminate grain while it’s still in the field, at every step of production and after it enters your home. You’re safe from those germs once you cook the flour. So just say no to licking the bowl. Here’s some more information about the dangers of eating raw flour (and raw dough and batter in general).
See also: Don’t Throw Them Away! 9 Awesome Uses For Silica Gel Packets.
Any woman who’s ever bought a new bag, new shoes, or even a bottle of Advil knows about those little silica gel packets that sternly order us to throw them away and not eat them. We’ve all tossed them (and, presumably, not eaten them), but it’s a safe bet that few of us know why they’re lurking inside all our new stuff.
Silica gel is a desiccant, which means it absorbs and holds water. The gel packs suck up water vapor from the air and keep our new products dry and fresh. They’re frequently found packaged with leather products and other items that don’t react well with moisture.
Although we’re told to throw the silica packs away, there are actually a pretty decent amount of surprising—and smart—uses for the little guys. We suggest keeping a few tucked away, especially now that you know what they actually do. Below, 9 times you can put those pesky little packs to good use.
1. Dry Flowers Faster
Dried flowers can serve as a memento of a special occasion, or can just look really cool in a vase. The problem? Letting them dry out can take a long time, and can cause a mess. If you place a bouquet in a plastic bag with silica gel packs, you can speed up the drying process—that’s important because, if the dying process takes to long, the flowers can begin to die before they’re totally dried. The Daily Mail suggests throwing a few more packs of silica gel into the plastic bag than you think you need, just to be safe.
2. Freshen a Gym Bag
Stinky gym bags are the absolute worst—but they’re also hard to avoid. You throw your sweaty workout clothes and sneakers in there, zip it up, and go about your day. If you keep a few silica gel packs in the bag, they’ll help to wick away some of the moisture (read: sweat) that gives gym bags a bad rap. Also, as Wonder How To points out, less moisture means less bacteria, which is something everyone wants. This seems like a no-brainer.
3. Keep Photos Looking New Longer
Although printing photos may seem like a thing of the past, when it comes to special occasions, nothing beats real, tangible photos that you can hold in your hand. Chances are, if you go through the effort to print a photo, you want that print to last. Store your photos and photo albums in sealed plastic boxes, and line those boxes with silica gel packs. Removing the moisture from the containers will keep the photos from curling and bending due to water exposure.
4. Dry Your Swimsuit While Traveling
There’s nothing more annoying (and gross) than having to travel with wet clothes. Don’t have time to let your swimsuit air dry? Silica gel packs can fix this, as My Thirsty Spot points out. Throw your suit in a large zip-top bag filled with silica gel packs—the more the better. Seal the bag tightly and let the silica wick away all the moisture from your bikini.
5. Save a Water-Logged Phone
We’ve all been there: One second your iphone is in your hands, the next it’s deep in the toilet (or a cocktail—no judgement.) While this is a death sentence for most devices, all hope isn’t lost if you have some silica gel packs saved up! Fill a plastic baggie with the packs and slip your phone it. Seal the bag and let the gel suck all the moisture from your phone. Be careful though” Make Life Lovely warns not to be overly eager and turn your phone on too quickly, as this could cause an electrical short and ruin your phone: Be sure to wait a full day or even two.
6. Preserve Razor Blades
Do you find that your expensive razor blades are oxidizing more quickly than you’d like? Wonder How To has a simple solution—instead of storing your razors in the open air, exposed to moisture that causes oxidization, keep them in a jar filled with silica gel packs instead. After you’re done showering and shaving, throw the wet blade into the jar and the silica will extract the excess water, nixing bacteria preventing oxidization.
7. Protect Silver From Tarnishing
When your silver jewelry or flatware starts to look dirty or less vibrant, it’s most likely tarnished. Tarnish is caused by a chemical reaction between elements in the air coming into contact with the silver. Humidity can expedite this process. A cure for humidity? Yup, silica gel packs. The Daily Mail suggests keeping a few silica gel packs in your jewelry box or silverware drawer in order to keep humidity in check.
8. Defog a Windshield
Foggy windshields are not only a nuisance and sometimes difficult to clear, they can also be seriously dangerous. Fog on windshields is condensation caused by humidity or a difference in temperature between the outside of your car and the inside of your car. An easy fix, as suggested by My Thirsty Spot, is to keep a few gel packs in your ride, specifically on the windshield. The packs should absorb some of the excess moisture caused by humidity and keep your windshields less foggy.
9. Stop Camera Condensation
Fashion bloggers out there, you’ll love this one. Nothing’s more frustrating than a foggy camera lens caused by condensation, especially when going from the cold back inside. My Thirsty Spot, a blogger herself, suggests removing your battery, memory card, and lens and placing them into a bowl of silica gel packs to suck up all that excess moisture.