The Summer Bay favourite, played by Lynne McGranger, is currently battling breast cancer and begins to feel worse following a heart scare.
She confines herself to her home and spends all day moping around, not getting dressed and cutting herself off from friends and family.
"Irene has always been one of the toughest and strongest characters in Summer Bay. But the heart scare on top of the cancer really knocks her spirit," a source told the Daily Star Sunday.
"She can't take any more and switches off. She doesn't want any visitors or fuss. She just wants to be left alone. It's going to be the darkest period of her life."
McGranger recently revealed that Irene struggles to cope with receiving chemotherapy following her mastectomy.
The storyline airs on Channel 5 next month.