How Can I Avoid a Nervous Breakdown?

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

Sometimes I feel so stressed out by work, family, money, and life I feel like I am going to explode. What can I do to keep from snapping?

Doctor's response

In any situation where people feel as if they are losing control of their emotions, one of the most helpful strategies can be to remove oneself from the situation (mentally, physically, or, ideally, both) for a brief pause to regain a sense of control. Examples include taking a break for a few minutes to practice some deep-breathing exercises (focusing on the moment and your breathing as you become aware of the inhalation and exhalation process) or practicing guided imagery (imagining and focusing on soothing or comforting images) for a few minutes. If possible, you can also take a few minutes to go outdoors for a short walk or to do breathing exercises.

However, the best solution can be to practice effective relaxation and stress-control techniques on a regular basis. Over the long-term, effective stress management and relaxation techniques may help you avoid these types of feelings and provide you with the skills needed to control stress before it builds up to this level.

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Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care