Are you having a slow motion breakdown? Feeling frazzled, mood swings and unexplained pain – the signs you’re at risk

Share This Story

STRESS can affect people in many different ways – one of which can be a gradual mental collapse, dubbed a slow motion breakdown.

It can build over a period of time, sometimes years, as people experience subtle changes but don’t always know the signs to look out for when they might be facing a tough road ahead.

Getty – Contributor

Many people can experience signs of a nearing breakdown, as stress becomes overwhelming[/caption]

This kind of breakdown can slowly emerge amid work or personal stress, or from childhood trauma, until suddenly a day-to-day routine becomes difficult.

A slow motion breakdown can be triggered by the gradual building of stress over years, which can cause subtle mood swings and frazzled nerves.

It differs to a sudden mental breakdown, which can happen during a period of intense mental distress and can present as depressive symptoms, anxiety, high blood pressure, insomnia and extreme mood swings.

Former Sky Sports TV presenter Cat Raincock has revealed what happened to her when she experienced this kind of breakdown.

She has said on her blog: “Becoming a mother at aged 35 was the catalyst and yet not the cause of my life’s undoing.

“Despite a childhood in which like many little girls, I dreamed of marriage, babies and the perfect London home, when I, former TV presenter and interior designer, gave birth to my son in 2012, I experienced what I can only describe as ‘a slow melt down’.

“My daughter’s birth two years later confirmed what I had on some unconscious level already known.

Beneath the desire to present a perfect picture of domestic bliss and adoring motherhood to the world, unhealed pain was threatening to cause an explosion in the carefully curated life I had modelled.”


To avoid a breakdown, a serious decline in social, psychological and emotional functioning, it’s a good idea to keep tabs on your mental health.

An event that happened years ago can still cause an issue so Charlotte Armitage, TV presenter and trainee counselling psychologist suggests trying to note any changes in behaviour or mood.

If you or people close to you notice you are acting in a way that is unusual, such as being less sociable, there may be a problem brewing.

It might be time to take some time to rest and recuperate if you realise you are also drinking more, exercising less or more than your usual routine, having eating problems and spending money.

If you feel you are experiencing a noticeable change brought on by stress, visit your GP or therapist and let them know.

Charlotte Armitage, a TV presenter and trainee counselling psychologist says this kind of breakdown can be triggered by something that happened as a child and doesn’t emerge until later in life.

Or it can stem from an experience as an adult that eventually causes problems over a matter of months and years.

She told the Metro: “A ‘slow-motion breakdown’ is not a clinical term, but refers to the notion of a mental breakdown happening gradually over time. Most ‘breakdowns’ would happen gradually, most likely after a series of life events which exacerbate mental distress.

“There are only certain psychological disorders which would result in rapid onset of a breakdown.

“A breakdown often occurs when a series of events over a period of time culminate in a significant decline in your social, psychological and emotional functioning.”

Figures from the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) last year revealed that around one in seven people experience mental health problems in the workplace.


  • Talk to someone about how you’re feeling like a GP or therapist
  • Eat healthily and keep exercising (but at a reasonable limit)
  • Make sure you are sleeping enough
  • Cut down on sugar

And women in full-time employment are almost twice as likely to have emotional wellbeing issues as men working the same hours.

Rates of anxiety and depression among employees have risen by nearly a third since records began in 2013, according to the UK Council for Psychotherapy. And some occupations have a higher suicide risk than others.

ONS figures published in 2017 showed that between 2011 and 2015, the risk of suicide among women was highest in artistic, literary and media professions.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please call the Samaritans on (free) 116123

Leave a Reply