What is a Mental Breakdown And What are its Symptoms?


A workplace can be full of pleasant, exciting, interesting, gratifying, or productive energies. On the other hand, sometimes it can also be a source of mental exhaustion or fatigue leading to other underlying mental health issues.

If left untreated, these illnesses might lead to more serious mental health problems such as a mental breakdown in the workplace.

They can occur at any time and in several situations. Employers need to recognize the early signs of a mental breakdown and refer employees to professional emotional support or seek various remedies within the workplace to help aid the situation better. 

In this article, we’ll look into what exactly mental breakdowns at work look like and how you can overcome them.

What does mental state mean?

A mental state is a psychological condition of our minds that most people can easily determine. For example, when you are happy, your mental state is most likely joyful. On the contrary, if you are feeling sad, your mental state is most likely downhearted.

However, our mental state is usually very dynamic and an average person feels a varied number of emotions throughout their life that alter their mental state from time to time. Having said that, some people might be in a constant mental state of exhaustion. This can be a sign of a mental breakdown. But let’s first discuss what a mental breakdown means.

What is a mental breakdown?

Mental breakdowns are associated with changes in a person’s mood, experiencing mental anguish, mental exhaustion, or even a mental block. And, while it may be difficult to discuss, an estimated 54 million Americans each year encounter signs related to mental health difficulties.

These frequent mental health problems have an impact on every aspect of life, from personal and social relationships to business and work. It might be difficult to know what to do if you feel someone at work needs emotional support with a mental health issue.

When to seek emotional support?

One of the most frequent reasons for an employee’s absence from work is a mental breakdown or other related symptoms. The repercussions of a mental breakdown can reduce profitability and productivity at a workplace, as well as cause unhappiness and mental exhaustion within the culture of an organization.

Moreover, your employee’s mental health has a great impact on your organization’s growth and success. Mental health problems can make a person feel agitated, have heightened emotional lability, be mentally fatigued, face a mental block, be mentally anguished, frightened, and more.

Mental breakdown symptoms

If you think your employee has a mental health crisis, it’s critical to react quickly. Early intervention and emotional support are vital for the employee’s wellness. It may be time to act if you detect one or more of these signs:

Panic attacks

Recurrent panic episodes might be a sign of escalating mental breakdown concerns. While many individuals describe the sensation as acute panic followed by alienation from reality and breathing difficulties, the majority of the signs are physiological. This means that taking relevant medication can help in relieving many of these mental breakdown symptoms, as well as the constant struggle of physical problems that feed into and intensify mental breakdowns.

Mental blocks

Have you been making a lot of mistakes lately? An apparent lack of attention to detail, from forgetting your simple day-to-day report-making tasks to not being able to perform the normal easily done tasks, or being in a state of mental exhaustion may be a sign of burnout or a mental block. When you’re having trouble remembering things or focusing on daily duties, you can try to use a time tracking tool, such as Toggl, or alternatives to Toggl to reduce your stress levels to feel less overwhelmed or distracted.

Emotional lability 

Emotional lability is also referred to as having mood swings. It’s not easy to feel helpless in the face of unpredictable moods and emotions. Whether it’s a surge of anger, sorrow, or depression, it could be an indication of a significant underlying mental health problem such as a mental breakdown problem, which necessitates help and attention.

Mental fatigue 

If you have been feeling extremely overwhelmed even with the easiest of tasks or are in a state of mental exhaustion then chances are you are mentally fatigued. This can lead to various other emotions that lead to a mental breakdown such as feeling anxious, languishing, and not having the energy to do simple things – let alone major tasks at work.

Mental anguish

You’ve worked hard to establish yourself in your chosen area, so why are you now questioning whether what you’re doing is worthwhile? Burnout is characterized by a mistaken sense of “diminished achievement,” which can affect anyone who has been working too hard, from doctors to great athletes. As a way of dealing with the continuous demands of your job, your mind begins to play tricks on you. This can result in many people having mental anguish at work.

Mental gymnastics

This happens when our minds spiral into damaging patterns of thought when we make up explanations or reasoning for unacceptable actions or circumstances. So basically,  they’re all the notions that are in your head that are preventing you from accomplishing what you need to do. Instead of just taking the bullet and finishing your job, you may start to have second thoughts such as: “What if I am unable to complete this project on time?” “What if I am not the right person for this project?” “What if I don’t understand it?”

How long does a mental breakdown last?

A mental breakdown at a workplace can last anywhere from a minute to a week depending on person to person.

Because mental breakdown is not a recognized medical illness, no established length of time validates how long it may last.

However, several risk indicators might lead to a longer mental breakdown, and the more an employee has, the higher the danger. These are some of them:

  • Unwillingness to give up control or transfer authority
  • An untreated mental health problem
  • Using substances as a coping mechanism
  • Overburdened with tasks at work or home
  • Neglecting one’s health, such as sanitation, food, or fitness
  • Traumatic events such as assault, death, or life-threatening diseases

What to do if someone is having a mental breakdown?

Managers within an organization should always have a vision for making a safe workplace for everyone including themselves. Managers can help establish the trust of the employees by integrating practices that recognize workers’ anxieties and resolve or minimize some of their problems.

1. Check-ins on a one-on-one basis

Managers should speak with each of their team members one-on-one at least once a week. This is not the same as taking a minute at the beginning of a face-to-face or online meeting to inquire about everyone’s well-being.

Employees should be motivated to discuss the constraints of their tasks, burdens, safety issues, or any personal problems during this one-on-one session. Sometimes, employees have no one to talk to outside their work life, and doing simple sessions like these can help boost their mental health and get them talking about it.

2. Go for regular self-care sessions

Self-care is very important for both our emotional and physical health. However, for employees who are already overworked or suffer from presenteeism, finding time to do something for themselves may seem difficult at first. On the other hand, managers can encourage their teams to indulge in self-care practices or even give employees vouchers to go for such activities as a spa or massage voucher.

From a simple early morning run to a good healthy meal, or getting a good 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep can help alleviate your mental health and prevent you from experiencing mental breakdowns. Managers can even invite yoga practitioners to the workplace and motivate employees to have a 15-minute session before work starts. 

3. Go for therapy sessions 

In many areas, going for therapy is still considered a stigma. The taboo attached to going to therapy because “something is wrong with you” will only take you down the road of a breakdown. Going for therapy and seeking emotional support can help mediate your mental breakdown and prevent you from losing your job or peace at work. 

It’s normal to feel down or have a mental breakdown – but it’s not normal to not seek emotional support.

4. Peer support

Connecting with others who are on similar paths can help you lessen social exclusion, eliminate embarrassment, and understand how to re-engage with the community as your mental health improves. It’s also a wonderful approach to offer you hope for the future and motivate you to work harder to achieve your objectives.

5. Seek permission to work from home 

If your job is such that you can easily manage your workload from home and think that your work environment is causing you a mental breakdown, then it is more likely that you seek permission for it. Sometimes, a simple talk with your boss can help save you from a lot of unwanted situations.

At times, we feel like we shouldn’t talk to our boss for fear of how they may perceive us – but at the end of the day, you should also think about your mental well-being because that’s what will help you complete your tasks more efficiently.

On the other hand, employers should always keep in mind that employees working in an organization are critical to their success. If their happiness is regarded, they will generate better results for the organization in return.

6. Do not compare yourself with others

It’s easy to get caught up in a corporate culture that values certain types of performatives over others. If your colleagues can sit for five hours straight and work productively, don’t try to do the same. You might be different in a way that you require small and regular breaks throughout to avoid getting burnt out and produce better results. Do not compare yourself or your productivity with others because everyone is different in how they work.

7. Take breaks

It’s critical to strike a healthy work-life harmony, whether you work physically or remotely. This entails taking frequent breaks throughout the day and turning off your screens at the end of the workday. Instead of being available 24 hours a day to reply to business calls, emails, or other communications, it’s more vital to spend time with friends and family and rest, rejuvenate, and enjoy yourself.

Prioritizing your mental health for a better future

Personal assistance and employee education are important, but they will have limited impact if employers do not endeavor to reduce or eliminate workplace stressors and mental exhaustion at the same time.

Organizations must establish a long-term strategy to ensure that they have the resources necessary to deal with workers who might experience anxiety, stress, or trauma in the future.

Organizations owe it to their employees to reduce workplace stress and care for their physical and emotional well-being. If it is the employees who bring profits and make up your workplace, we, as employers, must look after them.

Chanty team

Chanty is a team collaboration hub with unlimited searchable message history. Chanty offers team communication, audio calling, video conferencing and task management with the help of the Kanban board.

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