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Emotional Wreck: Signs, Causes, & What You Can Do

There are various reasons why individuals might describe themselves as an emotional wreck. And even though their emotions are intense, it can still be challenging to accurately summarize why they’re feeling this way.

This article explores what being an emotional wreck feels like, how to identify what is causing this surplus of negative emotions, and how you can improve your mental health.

Feeling like an "emotional wreck" is when your state of mind, conscience, and emotions are rolled into a spiral of negative thoughts and feelings to the point where you can feel immobilized or unable to think.

What Does “Emotional Wreck” Mean?

Feeling like an “emotional wreck” is when your state of mind, conscience, and emotions are rolled into a spiral of negative thoughts and feelings to the point where you can feel immobilized or unable to think. Emotional wreck can also be referred to as emotional distress, described as mental suffering as an emotional response to something traumatic or an underlying mental health disorder. Sometimes, these feelings result after a natural disaster or traumatic injury where the physical experience left deep and painful emotions. Some signs you might be experiencing emotional distress include:

  • Eating or sleeping more or less than usual.
  • Sudden crying or bursts of anger.
  • Avoiding social events, friends, or family.
  • Little or no energy, hope, or motivation to pursue hobbies, passions, or responsibilities.
  • Unexplained aches and pains, as depression can cause headaches, fatigue, and digestive issues, while anxiety can cause an upset stomach, insomnia, and restlessness.
  • Increase in smoking, drug or alcohol abuse, or other unhealthy habits.
  • Increased but unexplained anxiety, worry, and guilt
  • Trouble with readjusting to home or work life after an emotional event.
  • Contemplating or attempting to harm yourself or someone else.
  • Feeling an increase in negative emotions on the anniversary of an event, at the sight of something triggering, or hearing a certain sound.

Read more: The Difference Between Mental And Emotional Health

 Today, you might feel like an emotional wreck, and tomorrow you might feel much better.

Why You Might Feel Like An Emotional Wreck

Some common reasons you might be feeling like an emotional wreck include:

  1. You’re a human with feelings: Today, you might feel like an emotional wreck, and tomorrow you might feel much better. The point is, you’re a human with emotions, and that’s okay. They’re part of what makes us who we are, and everyone processes them differently. It’s important to acknowledge your feelings and craft a plan to ground yourself when overwhelmed.
  2. Your genetics: 20% to 60% of your emotional temperament can be determined by genetics. People can indeed be vastly different than their parents, but the intensity of the emotional range can be similar. One genetically-passed personality trait is sensory processing sensitivity, where an individual processes the world deeper than usual, including the moods and feelings of others. If someone in your family has a mental health disorder, you have a higher chance of having one too.
  • You’re not sleeping: Sleep is one of the most important parts of our functionality. A lack of sleep or sleep deprivation can impact your thinking and concentration, increase anxiety and depression, weaken your immune system, and lead to poor balance and cognitive abilities. It’ll also affect your mood, making you more irritable, upset, and disoriented until your brain can rest again.
  • You’re not staying active: Besides the benefits exercise adds to your physical health, it can heavily impact your mood and emotions. You don’t need to go to the gym every day to improve your mood, but starting small, like walking for 20 minutes a day, can ease you into staying active. According to the second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should get at least 150 minutes (2:30 hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week. Other activities include bicycling, swimming, and light sports.
  • Your diet can affect your mood: Research shows that unhealthy diets can negatively impact your mental health and emotional well-being. Food high on the glycemic index (increase blood glucose levels), like carbohydrates, can cause or worsen depression symptoms. The best thing to do is eat a healthy and balanced diet with vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, prebiotics, and probiotics for gut health.
  • You’re overwhelmed with stress: Stress can physically impact our bodies, exacerbating symptoms of depression and anger. It can also cause gray hairs since stress releases norepinephrine, a chemical that can speed up the pigment loss process in your hair, turning dark hair colors lighter than usual. The longer stress sits inside you unresolved, the more your negative emotions and feelings can worsen. When you go through a tough situation, the stress you feel usually gets better as time passes. But if you hold onto negative feelings and ruminate about what happened, it can make things worse.
  • You’re grieving: Grieving the loss of someone we know or the end of a relationship can be some of the hardest moments of our lives. We all handle grief in our own ways, and the loss of someone important in our lives will never truly leave us, and it takes time to get through the initial wave of feelings.
  • You have an undiagnosed mental health disorder: Various mental health disorders can slip past doctor checkups as we’re kids, and many can develop later in our lives. Depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety, and personality disorders can all affect our emotions and mental well-being. We may not even realize we have mental health disorders until much later in life, and like a light switch, symptoms from our past suddenly make sense.
 If you're feeling like an emotional wreck and want a professional opinion, talk to a therapist specializing in your symptoms.

Where Can You Work On Your Mental Health?

  • On your own: There are various mindfulness and grounding techniques you can practice at home, so when you’re out of the house or outside your comfort zone, and emotions start to swell, you know exactly what to do. Everyone feels and reacts to negative emotions differently. There’s not an official list of guaranteed mood boosters, but there are plenty of suggestions out there. If a certain genre of music relaxes you, whether it’s classical, lo-fi, or heavy metal, keep some headphones on you in case of an emotional emergency. If you find comfort in holding stuffed animals, plush toys, or other soft textures, keep something in your car or backpack that you can reach for when you’re overwhelmed. We suggest listing things you want to try, starting with your favorite activities and hobbies.
  • Therapy: Therapy has quickly become less and less stigmatized, thanks to increased awareness over the last few years. If you’re feeling like an emotional wreck and want a professional opinion, talk to a therapist specializing in your symptoms. Various therapist sites have search filters for depression, ADHD, anxiety, trauma, gender identity, etc. You don’t have to stick to the first therapist you choose, either. You can “shop” around until you find one who matches your needs.
  • Mental health treatment: If your mental and emotional health has gotten to the point where you believe you need inpatient or outpatient treatment, don’t stress. Various mental health programs are dedicated to individuals who aren’t sure exactly what they need. You’ll meet with an intake counselor who can identify your symptoms and needs and find a plan that works for you. If you have some free time, you can attend an inpatient or partial hospitalization program with a dedicated, structured space to focus on your mental health. Or, you can attend an outpatient program if you have outside responsibilities you need to take care of. It all depends on what works for you.
  • Mental health housing: Mental health can be challenging to work on if you don’t have the time to attend full-time treatment and take care of home responsibilities, especially if your home life is toxic or unsupportive. If this sounds like your situation, you could benefit from mental health housing. These residential homes allow clients to stay and work on their mental health, supported by trained professionals, access and transportation to outpatient programs, and weekly goal updates. You’re also surrounded by others on the same mental health journey.

Read more: 10 Healthy Ways To Deal With A Bad Mental Health Day

Contact Riviera Recovery

If you or someone you know feels like an emotional wreck and want professional advice, contact Rivera Recovery. We offer one of Southern California’s most advanced and comprehensive mental health housing programs. Through our clinical partnerships, our residents can attend outpatient mental health treatment and come home to an environment still dedicated to recovery.

You’ll have convenient transportation to outpatient treatment, empowering meetings, and supportive groups. It’s all about creating a vibrant and nurturing environment for you to grow, heal, and thrive! But that’s not all – we’ve got your back when it comes to adventure too. As a resident, you’ll embark on thrilling excursions and day trips that will leave you feeling alive and inspired!