I feel like I’m going insane

If it’s all getting too much and you’re worried you've got a mental health issue, read on.

It’s possible you’ve landed on this article because you’re freaking out. Perhaps you’ve just had your first panic attack and now you’re worried you’ll have them forever. Or perhaps something has made you feel sad and are now worried you have depression.

Feelings of sadness, worry and anxiety can be overwhelming. As a result, it can be hard to tell if what you’re experiencing is a short term bout of anxiety (for example) or whether it’s something more serious, like a mental health problem. In this article, we’ll help you work out whether you’re dealing with a blip, or something more serious.

Definition of insanity

Insanity is defined as a state in which someone is seriously mentally ill. Mental illness is very complex and can take different forms. You might imagine insanity to mean certain things such as hearing voices or having delusions, and this can be the case, but there are lots of other things it can include.

It’s also important to know that just because you have a mental health issue, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are going insane and a lot of mental health conditions are treatable and can be prevented from getting worse.

How do you know if you’re going insane?

Here are some signs you can use to identify if you’ve got the beginnings of a mental health issue:

  • Losing interest in things you’ve previously enjoyed
  • Eating too much or not enough
  • Isolating yourself
  • Seeing and hearing voices
  • Feeling nervous, jumpy and panicky

Don’t freak out if you have one or two of these symptoms, it doesn’t mean you’re getting sick. If you’re feeling stressed already, you might find yourself reading the list and thinking “that’s me!”

But the fact is we all have bad days and it’s very normal to behave like this on those bad days. The other thing to remember is that, if you’re dealing with a big life event such as a breakup or losing someone close to you, it is very very normal to feel low, anxious or sad. These feelings can even be useful – they help us to process whatever it is that has happened. 

It’s only if these feelings don’t go away, or build up into a giant barrier between you and the life you want to be living that it’s time to seek help.

How to get help if you feel like you’re going insane

Whether you think you’re experiencing is a short term blip or something more serious, you deserve support. Here are some ideas to hopefully help. 

  • Talk to someone. Anyone you trust. A friend, sibling – anyone you know will listen to you and help you sort out what’s going on in your head. (We also have some tips on talking to your partner about your mental health). 
  • Read our Understanding Depression article and do the NHS Mood Self-Assessment quiz.
  • Talking to a mental health professional can be calming – your doctor is the best place to start.
  • Get in touch with SANE for completely confidential emotional support. 
  • Ease off on the partying. By this we mean the alcohol and drugs – legal or illegal. Comedowns can feel like nervous breakdowns, and that’s the last thing you need.
  • Try and get enough sleep. We’re not really designed to go more than a night without sleep.
  • Get some exercise. Getting your heart rate up releases endorphins that will help you stop worrying for a bit.
  • Make sure you’re eating healthily and drinking plenty of water. Going without food or water for too long can make your mood plunge.

Why am I going insane?

The first thing to realise is that it’s totally normal to feel like this sometimes.

When you were a kid, you probably thought being a grown-up meant staying up all night and eating chocolate for breakfast. Sounds great, right? Instead, adult life turns out to be more of a malfunctioning rollercoaster, lurching from high to low with no warning.

You might feel on the brink of madness right now, and those feelings are very real and very scary. But you’re not alone because most – if not every – person your age will feel like this at some point.

Since life is changing so fast, it’s likely the feelings you’re having will too. In fact, it’s entirely likely that in a few hours time you might start to feel a bit better. And if not, then help is out there.

Next Steps

  • SANE offers support and information to people affected by mental illness. Call their helpline on 0300 304 7000, open 4:30pm - 10:30pm every day.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.


MH support


Updated on 20-Aug-2020