Many people experience something called a “Mental Breakdown” every year. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 adults in the United States feels the symptoms associated with nervous breakdowns. Although there are many misconceptions about what exactly a mental breakdown is, it’s most often a common side effect of depression or anxiety disorders.
How can you identify the signs of a nervous breakdown, and what can you do to help?
What is a Mental Breakdown?
A mental breakdown, also called an emotional breakdown, mental health crisis, or “nervous breakdown”, is when someone becomes overwhelmed with acute symptoms of severe mental stress. Emotional breakdowns can affect nearly anyone, from teenagers to elderly individuals.
Usually, mental breakdowns happen as a result of a tragically stressful experience. But they can also occur due to a buildup of smaller stressors over time.
Signs of a Mental Breakdown
When somebody is having a mental health crisis, they feel like their life is spiraling out of control. They might feel that their sense of self, belief systems, or lifestyle is being shaken up and at risk of crumbling. Symptoms can vary from person to person, but the overall chaos people feel with a breakdown is similar.
Signs that someone is going through a mental breakdown include:
- Extreme anxiety or panic attacks
- Fast heart rate, sweaty palms, “nervous” nausea
- Severe depression
- Feeling hopeless
- Thoughts of suicide or self-injury
- Dissociation (feeling detached from one’s body or feelings)
- Flashbacks or nightmares about painful experiences or past traumas
- Paranoia or hallucinations
- Feeling unable to move, get out of bed, or carry out daily activities
- Wanting to disappear from life altogether
How Can Someone Prevent a Nervous Breakdown?
Preventing a breakdown depends on your current mental health status. How are you taking care of your mental health? If you already have a diagnosis of some type of mental disorder, keeping up with treatment and self-care can help prevent symptoms from spiraling out of control. Checking yourself or your loved one into a medical or mental hospital is always better than risking worsening symptoms of suicide.
If you don’t have a mental illness or a diagnosis, having regular checkups with a psychologist or psychiatrist annually or every few months can help catch any early signs of mental spiraling. Everyone has struggles mentally from time to time; it’s okay to reach out and get the help you need.
Knowing the Signs Early
If you’re concerned about your child, teen, or loved one who is showing signs of having a mental breakdown, here are some of the patterns that might show up:
- Isolation from friends, family, work, school, and loved ones
- Loss of attention span or inability to concentrate on daily tasks
- Depersonalization: losing touch with the sense of self, identity, and reality
- Mood swings or emotional outbursts
- Sleep issues: insomnia, sleeping too much, and/or nightmares
- Chronic pain or sickness with no underlying cause
- Neglect of personal care & hygiene
- A racing heartbeat, sweaty palms
- Panic or anxiety
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feeling a loss of control over life
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
- Psychosis or hallucinations: seeing, hearing, or feeling in danger of people or things that are not there in reality
What Causes a Mental Health Crisis?
Many times, these symptoms can resemble serious mental disorders such as Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder. But they can also be a result of untreated symptoms or exasperated symptoms of:
- Past trauma
- Psychotic breaks
- PTSD or c-PTSD
- Unresolved life tragedies
There is no one set answer to what “causes” a mental breakdown. Everyone has different levels of tolerance to stressors and suffering in life. Some things might set off a mental health crisis in someone that wouldn’t generally bother somebody else. There’s no way to know how or why exactly a mental breakdown is happening unless the person is aware of their emotions and mental state at the time.
Other Factors that Cause Mental Breakdowns
- A buildup of unfortunate life events
- Death in the family
- Traumatic or violent experiences
- Neglecting medication or proper treatment for a mental condition
- Loss of a job, financial provision, or another serious income emergency
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Interpersonal relationship struggles
- An undiagnosed mental illness
- A flare-up of a pre-existing mental disorder worsened by stress or a painful event
- Any major life change that is distressing
How to Get Help During a Mental Breakdown
If you are having an emotional breakdown, it’s essential to reach out for help. Ignoring the red flags and difficulties of having a mental breakdown can make symptoms worse. It can be hard to overcome whatever challenges are contributing to the breakdown if you try to do it on your own.
- Reach Out to a Psychiatric Facility: Remember, sometimes nervous breakdowns can be signs of a more serious mental health disorder. It’s important to get the right evaluation and treatment in case anything is going on that is not being properly addressed. Reach out to a professional psychologist or psychiatric treatment center so you can receive the treatment needed if any.
- Maintain Close Relationships: Don’t ditch your close family and friends out of fear you feel “crazy” or misunderstood. Try to be open about what you are experiencing so you aren’t alone in the parts that feel scary or overwhelming.
Seek Online Telehealth Resources
If you’re too wary of going to a treatment center or therapist’s office in person, there are plenty of Telehealth services today. You can talk to a professional online, receive doctor evaluations, and discuss your symptoms.
Support Your Teenager or Loved One
If you have a child or a family member who is having a mental breakdown, be there for them. Help them seek the support they need and do whatever you can to show your support. Never try to lessen their experience or make them feel they are overreacting. Mental health is health and should not be taken lightly.
Remember It Will Pass
Even in the most turbulent of mental situations, it likely won’t last forever. These things happen to most people at some point in their lives. Try not to be too hard on yourself and make sure you get the support you need to get through it. Contact a treatment center today to explore the options available to your situation.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.